Ojai’s Dominique David makes sketches for a dress inspired by “Bodies … The Exhibition.” Photo courtesy of Bravo
By Misty Volaski
Dominique Pearl David said at the very beginning of the show — people are probably going to write her off. “But that’s OK,” she said with her usual breezy air. “I’ll prove them wrong.”
And she has. David began as the inexperienced youngster but has quickly become a potent force on the Bravo TV show “Fashion Show: The Ultimate Collection.”
After three episodes (the fourth came last night), David has created an Iman-inspired white cocktail dress with graceful yet powerful details; a sensual pale peach tube dress in flowing tissue-like fabrics based on “Bodies … The Exhibition”; and a black dress with a rich purple kimono-like jacket which received praise from the judging panel.
“Isaac (Mizrahi, a judge) is starting to take my side, acknowledging that I’m talented — oh yeah, this girl’s got it down!” David said. “That really helps. It’s confirmation that I’m doing the right thing.”
The Ojai native earned that praise with solid looks that stay true to her design style — what she’s described as fairy tale meets geisha. But what is setting David apart is her ability to absorb criticism and incorporate judges’ suggestions into her pieces without losing the “Dominique” factor.
“Being able to take the criticism and use it constructively” is everything, she said. “Maybe the hem was wrong, but next time, you know. If you changed it by 2 inches, it’s better. OK!”
If she’s going to win the $125,000 and a spread in Harper’s Bazaar magazine, she’ll have to overcome more than just criticism. Besides competing against established designers like Cesar Galindo and Calvin Tran, who have been in the industry since David was in grammar school, David is battling long nights, tight deadlines, limited budgets and sometimes-prickly judges — not to mention some strong personalities on the show. But while some of the other designers spend their time clashing with one another, David usually keeps mum.
“I just want to make pretty dresses! I’ve always been pretty easygoing,” she said. “What’s the point of fighting if you don’t need to? I just take it as it comes, try to stay focused on the work we’re there to do.”
That doesn’t mean she’s immune to stress, however. “Getting used to that schedule again, dealing with the different challenges, the people thrown into the mix — it is all very draining,” she acknowledged, “but it’s a matter of having perseverance. You gotta’ get through it and come up with the best ideas you can.”
The sleep deprivation, she laughed, “helped in a twisted way! I’m not unfamiliar with that situation!”
She took a much-needed break from the chaos of New York City to return to Ojai for Thanksgiving last week. It was the first time the family had watched the show together, David said. “It was really motional! It was so comfortable to be home. I have such a supportive family and it was great to watch with them.” She even has her dad Galen using words like “chic,” she laughed.
Although David hasn’t been recognized in New York yet, the support around Ojai has been very positive, she explained. A girl came up to her and said, “‘Oh my God, I’m watching the show!’ and I was thinking, I haven’t seen you since I was a freshman! My dad is getting phone calls every day too. Crazy!”
Last night marked the fourth episode of season two, in which designers and their houses had to create collections based on the contents of time capsules.
Tune in on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on the Bravo Network.
Strobel, citizens back request to verify
final City Council vote tally is correct
By Logan Hall
The ongoing saga of the race for Ojai City Council continues as supporters of Lenny Klaif and a group of citizens led by Pat McPherson, including elected Councilwoman Carlon Strobel, have officially requested a recount of City Council votes.
The trouble began when Klaif noticed an irregularity in the polls after the election. County officials say they found a clerical error, fixed it and Klaif’s loss by four votes to Carol Smith was accurate. To those who signed the recount request, that’s not good enough.
“The results may be accurate,” said Strobel, “but I don’t feel confident about this. I see one candidate ahead by seven votes, then next day, the other candidate is 52 ahead. Every vote represents a citizen. We need to make sure everything is done properly.”
Klaif says he stands behind the decision of McPherson and the others. “There’s no question that they screwed up the vote,” he said. “These people don’t trust the explanations the county is giving.”
McPherson says that when he spoke with the county they assured him that they made adjustments after uncovering the error, and everything was OK. Like Strobel, McPherson isn’t relying on the county’s word. “They made a mistake and it was certified anyway,” he said. “It made me question everything they do.”
One of the problems facing the group is the inevitable cost of a recount. McPherson says an official recount could cost more than $15,000. The question that he has is whether or not the county will be willing to pay for it. “Here we are as citizens, and we’re having to request a recount and pay for the thing,” he said. “We are paying for someone else’s mistake. Everyone that signed for the recount thinks the county should pay for it.”
Strobel who has worked for the city for 20 years, 10 of that holding the position of city clerk, agrees with McPherson’s reasoning. “The county is being asked to do a voluntary recount,” she said. “We are their clients, and they need to stand by their product.”
McPherson further explained that this wasn’t personal. He wants to feel confident that the results have been reached without error. “In my opinion we didn’t have a fair election,” he said. “This is not a Carol vs. Len issue. The issue is about our election process. If we don’t fix this, no one can trust the results.”
By Logan Hall
The Ojai Film Festival brought some big names to their award ceremony last month. The highlight of the event was the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award that was given to actor Craig T. Nelson (“Coach,” “Parenthood”).
Presenting the award was Erika Christensen, Nelson’s co-star on their hit TV series, “Parenthood.” After speaking to the audience and telling of Nelson’s positive influence on her and the rest of the cast, Nelson took the stage and accepted the award. “This whole thing is very humbling,” said Nelson while looking at the award in his hand. “I am so lucky to be working with such incredible people.”
The OVN had a chance to catch up with Nelson after the ceremony and share a conversation about Ojai, his peers and the Film Festival. “My wife and I would come up to Ojai all the time in the late ’70s,” he said as he lit a cigar, enjoying the evening that appeared to mean so much to him. “Up until 1986, we would come up here almost every weekend. We loved Matilija Hot Springs. The town is a lot different now.”
When asked how it felt to receive the award in a place that he used to frequent, Nelson gave a response that seemed to reflect what Christensen had said about him earlier. “It really is an honor to be here,” he said. “When I look at my peers and see the talent that they have brought, it’s very humbling.”
Nelson says he knew that he wanted to be an actor from a young age and has always loved what he does. “When I was 9 I saw ‘Spartacus’ in the theater,” he said. “I was mesmerized by the experience. I said, ‘That’s what I want to do’. Later on I did a movie with Kirk Douglas. It was an amazing experience.”
Nelson says he really supports what the Film Festival does and believes in their ideas and methods. “I love that the theme of the festival is integrity,” he said. “I buy into that 100 percent.”
Nelson’s series “Parenthood” will return with a new season in January on NBC.
A construction worker welds support beams under half of the main arch at the Libbey Bowl construction site on Tuesday morning. The arch will support the shell that will be constructed over the stage. The new bowl is scheduled to open to the public in June1. Photo by Fred Rothenberg
By Logan Hall
The main arch for the Libbey Bowl shell was lifted and placed above the stage on Tuesday, as McGillivray Construction and the Ojai Film Festival took another step toward the opening of the new bowl. A large truck from McGillivray subcontractor Select Steel, laden with 13 tons of steel supports, arrived on site and was unloaded before the beams were set in place by a 35-ton crane.
At the end of the day, the most prominent structure to go up was the main arch that will support the wooden shell over Libbey Bowl. The arch consisted of two pieces of steel that, when welded together, weigh more than 3 tons. Many additional pieces of steel are also going up to help support the shell and future lighting for the stage.
“We’re on schedule and it all looks good,” said McGillivray project manager Russell Trozera. “We set the arch for the shell over the bowl. The steel work should be complete next week. Our next step will be to put up the wood framing for the shell. That should be complete by mid-December.”
Anna Wagner, Libbey Bowl project director for the Music Festival, is also optimistic about the bowl’s progress. “Everything is going great,” she said, “It’s exciting. It’s all happening really fast.”
The Music Festival is giving the community a chance to witness the bowl’s progress firsthand with their Hard Hat Tours of the construction site. These tours will allow the public a more in-depth look at the development of the project. “We want people to know that they can come see the arch and the progress of construction,” said Wagner. “Everyone is welcome. There are four more dates for the tours in December. You just have to call and sign up.”
The Music Festival is also planning a “Future Sounds of Libbey Bowl” concert in front of Libbey Park on Dec. 4 that will coincide with one of the tours of the site. Performers will showcase what’s to come after the bowl’s scheduled reopening next year.
While everything looks to be on track, the festival is still raising money for things like the dressing rooms. Wagner says they have about $250,000 to go to complete the project. “We’re still fund raising,” she said. “This is the last chance for people to donate and name something that goes into the bowl. We’re also planning a new project where kids can decorate tiles for the bowl with a $100 donation.”
For more information on any of the Music Festival’s events or Libbey Bowl, call 646-3117, or visit the website at ojaifestival.org
By Misty Volaski
Megan McFarland never intended to be a cheerleader, but it seems to be working out just fine for her. The Nordhoff High School junior is heading to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii next month, to cheer with NFL cheerleaders in front of a crowd of 70,000.
“I never even thought about cheerleading when I was younger,” McFarland said. But a friend convinced her to come to the tryouts during their freshman year at Nordhoff.
“It was totally spontaneous. I was like, ‘Are you really going to’make me do this?’” she said. To McFarland’s surprise, however, “I made the team! And whoa, I kind of liked it!”
It turned out, cheerleading came naturally to McFarland, who has been dancing for nine years. “At first I wasn’t so into the cheery part of it — I was more of a dancer, a ballerina. But as I got into it, I realized there was a lot of dance.” The two disciplines seemed to complement each other. “Dancing helps me with cheer, and cheer helps with dance. Both are really challenging,” she said.
Along with her teammates, McFarland practices four days a week, Monday through Thursday for two and one-half hours every day. “It’s a lot! When the season starts, it’s a lot of conditioning, a lot of working out. We have to learn new dance routines for every home game,” McFarland said. “We’re constantly learning new material.”
McFarland got her chance to go to the Pro Bowl last summer, when she and her fellow cheerleaders went to cheer camp. Girls from several schools came together to learn six new cheers, and create two of their own. McFarland’s skill caught the eye of camp coordinators, who honored her with top marks, called “superiors” — which qualified her for the opportunity to cheer in front of huge audiences. “It’s like a reward — you get to cheer in London,” McFarland said. But traveling halfway around the world is a little expensive, so she and her mom decided to look online and call around for other opportunities. Her camp’s coordinators told her since she had gotten all the top awards at camp, they’d give her a package to cheer in Hawaii Dec. 27 to Jan. 1. “They also promised me I would be automatically eligible to go to London next year,” McFarland said. “I better start saving!”
December’s Pro Bowl will include long practices — “pretty much day and night, we’ll be cheering and learning new stuff,” she said — and a chance to learn from the professional NFL cheerleaders. “We’ll be constantly on the go till game day!”
She and her fellow high school cheerleaders will cheer right alongside the professionals at a pregame show, and then again at the halftime show.
The Pro Bowl could be a huge opportunity for McFarland to advance her cheer career. Not only will she get the chance to apply for other events and scholarships, “There will be scouts there watching us!”
The competition, however, will be tough. “People from all over the world are going to this,” she said. “No one else will be there from Ojai but me and my mom!”
Cheerleading aside, McFarland has some serious academic ambitions as well. In her sophomore year she joined Nordhoff’s Health Science Academy, a three-year R.O.P. program which takes up half the students’ school day and seeks to help them learn more about health sciences careers and opportunities. This year, she and her classmates are focusing on sports medicine, and next year, they’ll actually be medical assistants.
“I want to go to medical school to be a medical examiner,” McFarland said. She’s looking into the medical programs at schools such as U.C. Davis, USC and Sacramento State. “I have a lot of choices.”
By Bill Buchanan
It seems a little strange to be writing a column about Christmas. The temperature was over 90 degrees just a couple of weeks ago.
But still, today is “Black Friday”; the official or at least “unofficial” start of the Christmas shopping season. I’m not sure when today became designated the start of the shopping season. I always wonder just who gets to decide these things. Is it a secret committee, or is it just this one guy who comes out and says, “Ahh, I think today should be the start of the Christmas shopping season”— kind of like if the groundhog comes out of his hole and sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter. I never understood that one either. And I still can’t figure out how to tell when Easter falls each year.
At any rate, the season is upon us. And I would encourage each of you to do something —- give some serious thought to shopping with local merchants first. If you can’t find what you want or need, fine. Go somewhere else. But please give it a real try first.
Why? This is a great town. Many reading this column were not born and raised here. You came here from someplace else. You came here because you saw what a wonderful town Ojai is, and you said, “Why don’t we move here?” A lot of why this town is so special is due to the people who run some of our local businesses. They are your neighbors. They are your friends. They are the people who contribute time, money, goods and services to many of the nonprofit service organizations in this town. They are the ones who donate to locate programs. They are the ones who buy advertising banners for the high school football team. They are the ones who join the civic clubs like Rotary and put on projects that raise money for good works in the community. They are the people like the Ojai Valley Inn who hold fundraisers to benefit local charities like Help of Ojai, allowing them to do so much for the less fortunate in our community. Go to any fundraiser, charity event, or town-wide celebration like Ojai Day, and there will be scores of local business people who make it all possible.
That is one reason to shop locally. Another is that we have great stores here. There is always a tendency to downplay or even denigrate something that is local. The same merchandise in a store 50 miles away somehow seems more appealing or exotic. Maybe is the (false) sense of status associated with saying, “Oh yes, I got that in Santa Barbara” or “I found this in a cute little store in L.A.”
Well, we have lots of cute little shops here. People come here from all over to shop our unique stores. My wife proved this theory when she was in town a few weeks ago as she tore through Julia Rose & Co. like Sherman went through Atlanta during the Civil War.
I have heard all the comments in other towns about “Oh, their prices are too high” or “Oh, they don’t have what I want.” To that I would say, when was the last time you were actually in the store to see what they have and what their prices are? Don’t they deserve a look before you go elsewhere?
Ojai has wisely enacted a “no chain store” ordinance to keep this town from becoming a strip center on one end of town and a strip center on the other end of town with little or nothing in-between. That is a good start. But local shopper patronage is also an important component.
In the mid-’80s, I ran a newspaper in south Louisiana in a city about the size of Ojai. It was not nearly as nice a town, but the population was about the same. The city was an hour from New Orleans, and there was a mall in Baton Rouge about 30 minutes up the road, both of which took some customers from local merchants. The town had a family department and hardware store that started up in the 1830s, and celebrated its 150th anniversary while I was publisher there. The store had survived the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II, the ‘60s, Vietnam and God knows what else. Wal-Mart moved into town, and this family-owned local store was gone within five years.
When the town was so devastated that it was featured on “Sixty Minutes” as a chain store victim, Wal-Mart abandoned their 40,000-or-so-square-foot building, leaving a gaping hole in the community. Then they invited everyone to come see them in their new “super store” across the river 15 miles away. So the city lost the sales taxes revenue as well.
If I was back in that town now, I would want to ask all those people who abandoned their local merchants one question: “Was it worth allowing your town to be ravaged in order for you to say you bought something in Baton Rouge, or to save 10 cents a roll on paper towels?”
Please remember Ojai for the holidays.
Mosler feels rights were violated
By Logan Hall
Mining operations up Maricopa Highway were dealt another blow last week. The Ventura County Planning Commission voted 4-0 to deny Larry Mosler’s appeal of 14 notices of violation for his rock quarry north of Ojai.
The county says that Mosler, who lives in Newbury Park and bought the quarry in 2005, has failed to follow guidelines for the operation of his mine. Mosler is accused of exceeding the maximum of 20 daily truck trips, operating non-permitted equipment, trucking through restricted zones at restricted times, particularly in front of Nordhoff High School, and mining outside of the boundaries of operation. Mosler’s property is 93 acres, 13 of which are permitted for mining.
Mosler and his attorney argue that he is following all guidelines and that the county is targeting him specifically, and he also alleged that county staff trespassed on his property to take photographs, although the Planning Commission says their staff was not on Mosler’s property when the photos were taken.
“There is a disproportionate focus on this quarry,” said Mosler attorney Derek Cole, addressing the Planning Commission. “You have a staff that has been focusing a considerable amount of attention on the smallest mine in this county. There has been, in my opinion, a very deliberate effort to make an issue of this quarry.”
The Planning Commission countered by saying they are responding to a number of complaints from the community about the trucks using the streets and highways of the Ojai Valley without following said guidelines.
The county also stated that Mosler has a balance of $77,184 for the violations and owes another $8,186 for his appeal. Cole argued that there are no grounds for the numerous violations and that “we shouldn’t be here right now.”
Mosler told the Planning Commission that his rights are being violated, stating he was cited for entering his property before 7 a.m. According to Mosler, the county has stipulated that the property is only used for mining, and only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. “If I want to go up on a Saturday … have a barbecue by the creek or something,” he said, “I’m not allowed to do it. The U.S. Constitution has a lot to say about property rights.”
The county has stated that they want to settle with Mosler, and hope to end the dispute reasonably. Mosler will have the opportunity to appeal the Planning Commission’s decision to the county Board of Supervisors.
Local skater Kevan Harris nose-slides up a rail at the Ojai Skate Park and squeezes a few more minutes out of the waning daylight. Dave England, Skate Ojai and their supporters are trying to raise money to put in lights at the park. Photo by Logan Hall
By Logan Hall
Skaters and proponents of the Ojai Skate Park may no longer be in the dark when it comes to lighting at the park. Skate Ojai, with a big boost from stuntman Dave England, has decided to bypass the city, and raise money to put up lights at the Skate Park. England says he will donate $20,000 to Skate Ojai, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, which will cover a third of the $60,000 total cost of installing the lights.
“The $60 grand will cover everything, including the installation,” said England in an interview. “We’re challenging the community to come up with the other $40,000 by the end of the year.”
The plan calls for three lights that could illuminate the park after the sun goes down, giving skaters the opportunity to use the park after sundown. Skate Ojai had prepared for the future possibility of lighting at the Skate Park by running electrical conduits underneath the cement. The conduits are ready for wiring to hook up to lights, along with a separate conduit for a possible webcam, so according to Chet Hilgers, president of Skate Ojai, there would be no physical disturbance to the Skate Park during the process.
Hilgers says they want to handle the lights in a similar way the Ojai Valley Tennis Club handled the tennis courts at lower Libbey Park. “Our plan is to raise the funds privately nstall the lights, then hand it over to the city,” said Hilgers. “We’re trying to get this done sooner rather than later.”
“We’ve waited long enough for the Skate Park,” added England. “Let’s not wait for the lights. It’s time to fast-track this thing to happening.”
Everyone involved stressed the importance of having lights up, especially during the shorter days of winter. Many using the park are kids who have school during the week and don’t have much daylight left to practice their sport. “You can skate the park after it starts getting dark, but it’s sketchy,” said local skater, 17-year-old Kevan Harris. “We’d be a lot better off if there were lights.”
England says that winter isn’t the only time when lights would come in handy though. “It gets so hot during the summer,” he said. “This would give kids a chance to beat the heat and skate after the sun goes down. We could get so much more use out of the park all year round.”
Hilgers says that the lights are not stadium lights, but more like those used at a tennis court. He says they want to minimize light pollution while still giving skaters plenty of lighting in the park. “We also want to take a greener approach,” said Hilgers. “We’re looking at technology that utilizes solar or battery power. There’s enough money in the budget to cover these options.”
England says that now is the time for someone to step up and put down the rest of the money for the project. “This could be a big tax write-off for anyone who can help come up with the other $40 grand,” he said.
For more information on donating to lighting up the Ojai Skate Park, contact Skate Ojai at 646-3774.
Funds will go toward construction of Search
Dog Foundation National Training Center
By Misty Volaski
A pair of big donations last week gave the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation a reason to celebrate the giving season a little early this year. The Ojai-based nonprofit organization accepted $1.5 million in donations toward the construction of its new National Training Center in Santa Paula’s Wheeler Canyon.
The 125-acre Training Center will bring all aspects of the NDSDF together, from administrative buildings to disaster simulation zones.
Right now, said NDSDF founder Wilma Melville, the training is good, but needs to be centralized and improved upon. Citing disasters such as Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake, Melville said, “To train for that kind of disaster, you must have a highly trained dog and trainer … You can imagine the hunt up and down the state at all times for suitable places to train. And yet it isn’t good enough to bury a victim 4 inches below the surface.”
The new facility will allow handlers and trainers to practice for disasters of all types, with changeable simulation areas and props — that means rescue teams that are better equipped to tackle even the most difficult of disasters.
But despite its nonprofit status and deployment on dozens of disasters in recent years, the Search Dog Foundation receives no funds from the federal government — its operational funds come solely from donors.
With this in mind, Newman’s Own Foundation announced a $500,000 gift to the foundation last week. Those funds will go toward the construction of the Search Team Showground portion of the Training Center complex, which will allow teams to display and improve upon their skills.
“When people would thank Paul for his charitable giving, he would always reply that he didn’t think he was doing anything special,” said Robert Forrester, president of Newman’s Own Foundation, which has donated more than $300 million to various causes since Paul Newman founded the company in 1982. “He believed that the real thanks should go to those people and organizations — like Search Dog Foundation — who work every day to make ours and the future’s a better world. For Paul, it was a privilege to be just one among these many. That’s how we all feel today as we carry on this unique and wonderful philanthropic legacy.”
On the heels of the Newman’s Own gift, philanthropists Jack and Lynn Loacker announced a $1 million donation of their own. It was the fourth seven-figure donation the NDSDF has received during their campaign. Back before the NDSDF gained national attention during Sept. 11, 2001, Loacker had become familiar with the organization through mutual friends while breeding her golden retriever. She had seen a facility where some of the search dogs were trained, and not long after, she began donating to the NDSDF. “What they were doing was just fascinating!” Loacker said. “So we started giving for all the great work they were doing.”
When she heard about the foundation’s efforts to build an all-in-one facility, “I thought, how neat would it be, to be a part of that!” Loacker said. “I heard them talk about the trouble they have finding rubble piles — they disappear! So to be able to have a facility where they re-create and have permanent rubble piles, having (a place) where these guys can train and retrain … It’s just good stuff. We need that.”
The Loacker family donated not just funds, but their love as well. They’re now the owners of a Lifetime Care dog (one who did not complete the extensive training), and support rescue teams in the Sacramento area.
With the Newman’s Own and Loacker donations, the NDSDF has now raised a little over $6.6 million so far — well on its way to reaching the $7 million goal for 2010, and on track to the $14.5 million total needed to open the Training Center by Sept. 11, 2012.
“The NTC is a must-do, can-do project which will enable us to provide a resource that our citizens need, and deserve,” said Chris Wright, NDSDF board chair. “The generous gifts from Newman’s Own and the Loacker family represent a giant leap forward in the campaign and a strong finish to the year.”
Said Melville, “Our search dogs need a home, and our firefighters need a permanent place to train for extreme disaster scenarios. We are grateful for these extraordinary new gifts, and honored by the support from our local community and the nation which is giving us the confidence to build the center. Together we will bring an important gift to America.”
To donate to the National Training Center or to find out how to adopt your own Lifetime Care dog, visit searchdogfoundation.org
Mayor Pro Tem surges past
challenger in final count
By Lenny Roberts
It may or may not be over for Ojai attorney Leonard Klaif, whose 10-vote lead over incumbent Ojai City Council member Carol Smith was erased on Friday after all the provisional votes were counted. Provisional votes are hand-counted after absentee ballots are tabulated.
Klaif said Tuesday he wants the county to decertify the results of the 11th-hour comeback by Smith that resulted in his apparent defeat, and demanded a recount at the county’s expense.
“How can they certify something that they don’t know is accurate?” he asked.
Frustrated by not getting telephone responses to his concerns, Klaif sent an e-mail to county and city officials Tuesday afternoon, (see below) which stated, in part, “(1) how did I lose 20 plus votes, and (2) how did Ms. Smith gain 49 votes in one day?
“The residents of Ojai have the right to know that the election results accurately reflect the actual vote. No reasonable person can stand behind the results at this time.”
Mark Lunn, Ventura County clerk and recorder, did not return a phone call placed by the OVN Tuesday, but in a published report Monday, acknowledged that Klaif was questioning the validity of the final count.
According to the State of California, if a voter’s name does not appear on the election roster at his or her polling place location, the person will be required to show proof of current residence in order to receive a provisional ballot. Ballots for such voters are placed in provisional ballot envelopes and researched by election officials. A provisional ballot is not counted unless the elections official establishes from the records in their office the claimants’ right to vote prior to the completion of the official canvass, or by order of the Superior Court in the county of the voter’s residence.
According to numbers posted online Friday by the Ventura County Elections Division, Smith, Ojai’s mayor pro tem, finished behind Paul Blatz and Carlon Strobel, 52 votes ahead of Klaif. The top three vote-getters will be seated alongside Sue Horgan and Betsy Clapp when the Ojai City Council reconvenes Dec. 14. Blatz won a special election in June, defeating Klaif for the position vacated by longtime Councilman Joe Devito. Strobel, former Ojai city clerk, replaces another longtime council member, Steve Olsen, Ojai’s current mayor, who decided not to run in the Nov. 4 election. By law, the county must certify election results with the state by Nov. 30.
Following are the number of votes and the percentage of the total votes for each candidate: Paul Blatz, 1,675, 25.09 percent; Demitri Corbin, 672, 10.07 percent; Leonard Klaif, 1,122, 16.81 percent; Dennis Leary, 557, 8.34 percent; Carol Smith, 1,174, 17.59 percent; Carlon Strobel, 1,445,21.64 percent; write-in votes, 31, 0.46 percent.
Klaif’s Tuesday e-mail to
county and city officials:
Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2010 2:38 PM
Subject: election 11/2 Ojai City Council
Dear various County of Ventura and City of Ojai officials:
As I assume you all are aware, I am/was a candidate for the Ojai City Council in the November 2, 2010 election.
At this time I know the following:
a) following the posting of the vote on Wednesday, November 17, I was trailing Carol Smith by three votes for third place;
b) the vote totals posted on Friday, November 19, had me trailing Ms. Smith by 52 votes, a swing of 49 votes;
c) That I had 20 something fewer votes on Friday than I had on Wednesday;
d) That prior to last Wednesday to Friday, the usual post election day swing between Ms. Smith and myself was in single digits, with the greatest swing being, I beleive 14 votes.
e) That the election was certified on Friday, November 19th and that notwithstanding the obvious problem outlined above, the results remanded certified.
This presents two rather obvious questions: (1) how did I lose 20 plus votes, and (2) how did Ms. Smith gain 49 votes in one day.
Yesterday, I spoke with a gentleman named Martin in the County elections office. He advised that the election officials were aware that there was something askew and were in a meeting trying to figure out what happened that would explain the numerical questions raised above. He promised that someone would call me back when they had figured this out. When I had not received a call back by mid-morning today, I again called and left a message on Martin’s answering machine. At this time, almost 2:30 on the afternoon of November 23, I still have not received a return call.
Based on the foregoing, I hearby demand that the vote for the Ojai City Council be de-certified. How can you certify a vote when you know it is not accurate, when you know that something is askew and you apparently do not have a clue what when wrong?
The question of certification is critical because it triggers the time frame I (and others) have to ask for a re-count. At this time, I do not know what the vote count really is–how can I decide whether to ask for a re-count? How can I decide, under the circumstances outlined above, whether I want a recount of all the votes, just provisional votes, etc?
I am also asking, in addition for the decertification for the County to pay for a recount. You all obviously made an error, but at this time, three or four days after the error was made, have no idea of the nature of the error. Why should I, or my supporters, have to pay for a re-count when it appears that you have not done your job correctly in the initial count.
Finally, I direct the following to members of the Ojai City Council and Ojai officials: I am advised that there will be a special City Council meeting on November 30th. I am asking that the election be added to the agenda. At some point the City Council will be asked to certify or ratify or approve the election results. How can you do so if County officials are unable to explain such obvious and/or unexplained inaccuracies? I ask that absent a solid explanation from County officials that the City demand that the County conduct a recount at County expense, or in the alternative that the City of Ojai pay for a recount.
The residents of Ojai have the right to know that the election results accurately reflect the actual vote. No reasonable person can stand behind the results at this time.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Leonard Jay Klaif
Equine Sanctuary takes advantage of education opportunity
By Logan Hall
Americans seem to be used to discarding things that they no longer need. All too often, this includes the life of a living creature. In particular, horses that are used for sport are often sold for slaughter once they’ve passed their athletic prime. Many of these horses are then used for human consumption.
One organization has taken the reins on the issue. The Equine Sanctuary is a nonprofit organization that rescues and rehabilitates professional sport horses who have lost their athletic edge, and are tossed aside like an empty beer can. Alexis Ells, founder and director of the sanctuary, has dedicated her time and energy to help as many otherwise doomed horses as she and her team of volunteers can.
“We take in performance horses because no one else will,” said Ells. “These horses are pieces of equipment to the industry, and they see them as disposable. We have had enormous success working with these horses.”
The sanctuary sits on about five acres on the East End of the Ojai Valley. There, Ells and her volunteers rehabilitate and care for many horses at any given time. With horses ranging from racers to jumpers, there is always something to keep the crew busy at the sanctuary. Many of the animals require intensive rehabilitation to help them recover from traumatizing lives as competitors.
“Oftentimes the horses are not good with other horses or people because of the way they’ve been treated throughout their lives,” said Ells. “Most of the time these horses are not good for regular horse owners. That’s the challenge, and that’s where we come in.”
Ells and the other volunteers at the sanctuary aren’t the only ones who agree with the sanctuary’s philosophy. B. Dawson, animal herbalist and owner of Noah’s Apothecary, has good things to say about the sanctuary. “Alexis and the volunteers at the sanctuary are amazing for doing this for these horses,” said Dawson. “To stand up for them is just incredible.”
According to Ells, the alternative for many of these horses would be a trip across the border to Mexico or Canada, where horse slaughter is legal. Next, the meat would be processed and shipped overseas to many countries where horse meat is viewed as a delicacy. Ells also says that the method used for slaughter is often brutal and inhumane, seemingly causing the animals great pain and discomfort.
Ells has used the recent showing of the film “Secretariat” at the Ojai Playhouse to help spread the word about the sanctuary’s cause. She says she has been at the theater for every show; she and some of the sanctuary’s volunteers have been handing out brochures and inviting people to sign up for a tour of the facility. Ells says that they have horses at the sanctuary that are related to Secretariat, so hopefully the film will spark some interest in people to help the organization.
“The tours that we offer are a great educational thing for families and groups like schools or churches,” said Ells. “We’ll design tours for specific groups and cater to specific interests.”
The sanctuary would not exist without help from contributions from the public and, perhaps more important, volunteers. “People need to help support the sanctuary any way they can,” said Dawson. “It doesn’t take a lot of skill to brush a horse or walk them around the ring a little.”
Ells says that the sanctuary is her passion and she will always strive to help animals that are in need and can’t fend for themselves. “Horses have such great intelligence and compassion. They have so much to teach us,” she said. “I’ll keep doing what I’m doing until my last dying breath.”
Tours of the Equine Sanctuary are by appointment only, and can be arranged by calling 453-4567 or logging on to theequinesanctuary.org
Jean Clark and John Slaght ponder an auction purchase during the ninth annual Nightingale Ball last Saturday. This year’s event was held in the Hacienda Room at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Photo by Evelyn Cervantes/Brooks Institute
By Misty Volaski
You probably drive by it at least once a week. But unless you need it, the Ojai Valley Community Hospital is just another building along Maricopa Highway.
Peggy Russell discovered that fact several years ago, when she fell off a horse and crushed her pelvis. “Dr. Gross came in — he was at his daughter’s recital, I think — and they took such good care of me,” she recalled. “It was such a relief to have the hospital there; we’re so fortunate to have it.”
After that accident, Russell and her husband, John, were inspired to give back to the hospital. This year, the two co-chaired the ninth annual Nightingale Ball, the Ojai Hospital Foundation’s main fund-raising event of the year, which found 250 people at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, enjoying dinner, drinks and an auction last weekend.
Auction items included a trip to Sedona, an appetizers-and-drinks cruise aboard the cruise ship Talofa and an intricate handmade quilt, along with catered “dream dinners” at local mansions. The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa had originally agreed to donate one-night stays and rounds of golf to the auction, but, said Russell, “Janice Clapoff (OVI managing director) came up to me that night and asked if she could change that to a stay for 10 at Casa Elar,” the OVI’s high-end villa. “That hit us by surprise — talk about generosity! That one (auctioned) for quite a bit of money.”
The auction was split into two parts — one with items up for bids, and the other a “Fund a Need” auction, where attendees could donate toward specific items on the hospital’s wish list. “I was tearing up, watching the hands go up” during that portion, said foundation director Chris Rock. “You realize just how many good people we have in this community.”
This year’s ball raised approximately $130,000, Rock added. “That’s phenomenal in these economic times! This community is so generous, so giving.”
Of that money, $30,000 will go toward the purchase of three new critical care beds, “which have all the bells and whistles to change the position of the patient,” said Russell.
“I ordered them Monday morning!” said Rock.
Although the Ojai Valley Community Hospital is part of the Community Memorial Health System, the funds will be used exclusively to improve the Ojai hospital. Other money raised will go toward the continuing modernization of the Emergency Room, and to a much-needed interior face-lift for the Continuing Care Center, located behind the hospital. Rock credited volunteer Barbara Haggerty for gathering the auction items this year.
“We just really appreciate the whole community and their support of the hospital,” Rock said. “It’s truly a community taking care of a community. That’s what it’s all about.”
By Bill Buchanan
Next week is Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. The reason may be because, with the exception of Ava, I do not spend it with any family members. That sounds like a terrible statement to make, and I guess it is — especially if anyone in my family reads this. Now I love my family — almost all of them. But my Thanksgiving stress level is almost zero — a far cry from the holidays that I used to spend with family. Ava and I spend Thanksgiving with friends. We play parlor games (well, not me), I watch football, stuff down great food (definitely me) and just enjoy the day. I look at some of our friends who come over after family get-togethers, and they walk in like something out of “Night of the Living Dead,” regaling us with horror stories about their mother bringing up some embarrassing story from their youth; or a distant relative that they had not seen in 25 years being offended because they didn’t immediately recognize them and remember their name; or some aunt getting her feelings hurt because they didn’t try some of her “famous” fruit-cocktail-Jello-surprise-with-mayonnaise something or other. Note: In the South, mayonnaise is considered one of the major food groups, the others being butter, sugar, flour, and “fried.”
When I was young, one of my aunts would literally follow you through the food line to make sure you ate whatever she brought that day. She was a wonderful cook, but at these joint family Thanksgivings there might be 20 different dishes. You could almost hear your plate groaning as you thought it would break in half under the weight of all that food. But having your plate break in half and slice a major artery was not nearly as scary as facing my Aunt Susie if you dared to pass up something she had cooked. That exchange would go something along the lines of:
“You not going to have any of my sweet potato pie?”
“Yes, ma’am. Later. Right now my plate is bending in half.”
“Yes, ma’am. I know it is.”
“I made it just for you. You used to like it.”
“Yes, ma’am, I still do. But there just isn’t any room on my plate right now. I’ll come back and get some later.”
“Well, I guess it just isn’t good enough.”
“Ahhhh, well, why don’t you go ahead and give me a slice? Oh yeah, that’s good, right there on top of my mashed potatoes and gravy (ugggghhh), it should go just fine with that.”
And that was Thanksgiving. I went through many years of these Thanksgivings, where the stress was almost like a real object that you could hold and touch. It was like taking a bottle of Coke and shaking it until all the carbonation builds up, then quickly removing the cap and letting the liquid explode like a geyser and spew all down the front of your shirt. Thanksgiving almost became a chore.
Then, a few years ago, Ava and I had no family obligations, and we went to lunch with another couple. We just ate lunch at a restaurant and told stories and enjoyed ourselves. It was wonderful. The next year, Ava wanted a traditional Thanksgiving home-cooked meal, so we had this same couple over to our house. Out of that, the “Thanksgiving for Strays” was born. We started adding a person or two each year — people who either had no family, or had family too distant to visit, or who just didn’t want to see their family. It has grown to about 12 to 14 people. And it is so nice and easy. If you want to watch football, you watch football. If you want to play charades, you play charades. If you want to do neither, you are allowed to do that, too. No one pinches your cheek until it leaves a blood blister and asks you if you remember their name. No one shames you into eating something you don’t want to eat. No one blurts out in the middle of dessert, “Hey, didn’t you used to wet the bed until you were about 14?”
I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving. I know I will.
Meiners Oaks residence No. 170 on list
By Logan Hall
If you’ve ever driven through Meiners Oaks and wondered what the big two-story manor in the middle of town is, it’s the Acacia Mansion, also known as the Baird Mansion. The property, located on South Lomita Avenue, stands out in a neighborhood of modest homes and is a hot spot for events like weddings and parties.
Last week, a proposal by the mansion’s owners, Kristina Knapic and John DeVito, to the Ventura County Cultural Heritage Board (VCCHB) was accepted to make the Acacia Mansion Historical Landmark No. 170 in the county. According to historian Charles J. Fisher, the house was designed and built in 1929 by local architect John Roine for David and Madeline Baird from Newfoundland. The Bairds made their fortune in the fishing industry and came to the Ojai Valley as followers of the Theosophical Society.
Ojai Valley historian David Mason weighed in on the property’s historical and cultural significance. “It’s one of the most elegant and interesting estates in the Ojai Valley,” said Mason. “They didn’t spare any expense as to detail and workmanship when they built it.”
The current owners, Kristina Knapic and John DeVito bought the house in 2004 and have utilized its decor to attract weddings and special events. Knapic has a lot of pride in her home and has spent much of her time restoring the aging property. ”I’m so excited to have the mansion named a historical landmark in the county,” said Knapic. “Everything was original when we bought it, including the roof, which leaked, and the heater that was made in Germany before World War II. We’ve spent three years restoring the mansion and its grounds.”
After Knapic and DeVito made their request to the county for landmark designation in June, the county began looking into the history of the Acacia Mansion. “We asked the applicant to provide a historic resource evaluation of the property,” said Nicole Doner, senior planner of the VCCHB. “As part of the designation process, we went to the property to evaluate and take photos. It’s a really amazing place.”
In order to be designated as a historic landmark, a property has to meet at least one of the criteria set by the Heritage Board. Of the six different guidelines, the Acacia Mansion falls under three of them, including Criteria No. 6, integrity. It says that the property must establish the authenticity of resources and its lack of deterioration.
Mason says the house doesn’t lack authenticity. “Everything was brought from Europe to build it,” he said. “The intricacies of the floors and ceilings and everything else are absolutely incredible. It’s always been one of my favorite places in the valley.”
Former Ojai Police Chief Gary Pentis
Chief Deputy Gary Pentis To Assume New Role
By Lenny Roberts
Effective Jan. 3, 2011, former Ojai Police Chief Gary Pentis will become one of two assistant sheriffs when Geoff Dean officially takes charge of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. In a press release issued Thursday, Dean said a restructuring of the department’s top officials was in order, and as a product of that modification, more than $1 million would be saved while protecting front-line services. Joining Pentis as assistant sheriff is John Crombach, former sheriff’s deputy and Oxnard chief of police.
Chief Deputy Gary Pentis, a 32-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, is currently assigned to the Special Services Division with oversight of the Major Crimes Bureau, Aviation Unit, Narcotics, Intelligence, Forensic Services and The Bomb and SWAT teams.
Gary has worked in virtually every division and brings with him vast experience in all functional and geographical areas of the Department. His assignments have included Detention Services, East County Patrol/Special Enforcement Unit, SWAT team member, and served ten years as a narcotics investigator and supervisor. During this time, Chief Pentis was recognized for his excellence in narcotics investigations and was named Narcotic Officer of the Year in 1986 and 1992, respectively.
Gary has held a variety of management positions since 1995; including the Pre-Trial Detention Facility, East County Patrol Services, East County Detective Bureau and Police Services for the City of Camarillo. In 2000, Chief Pentis was privileged to serve as the Acting Chief of Police for the City of Ojai for five years. This assignment was particularly rewarding in that he was instrumental in helping form the SAFE Coalition, a community based forum aimed to assist the at risk youth population and helped create the Social Host Ordinance that eventually was modeled for all Sheriff’s jurisdictions. Chief Pentis earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Health from San Diego State University. He has taught nationally and internationally covering topics that include international money laundering, task force management, social networking and open source intelligence gathering.
In his new role, Assistant Sheriff Pentis will lead the Special Services and Detention Services Divisions. Special Services is responsible for major crimes investigations, narcotics, the criminal forensic laboratory and the Sheriff’s air unit to mention a few of their duties. The Detention Services division includes all of the Sheriff’s jail facilities. These two divisions have an operating budget of $115 million dollars and 662 employees.
John Crombach began his law enforcement career in March 1978 as a deputy with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. Later he transferred to the Port Hueneme Police Department, where he worked in Patrol and Investigations until 1985. He began his career with the Oxnard Police Department in July 1985 as a patrol officer, and worked his way through the ranks and in March of 2005 was named Chief of Police.
Chief Crombach has an impressive list of credentials including supervisory and management experience as well as progressive leadership in all major areas of law enforcement including uniformed patrol, SWAT, investigations, traffic enforcement, training, community relations, administration, and labor relations. He brings an excellent record of community policing and problem solving.
Chief Crombach serves on the board of directors of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and is a principal on a U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance project that is defining effective police leadership well into the 21 century.
He earned his master’s degree from California State University, Northridge in Public Administration and his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of La Verne.
He will lead the Patrol Services and Support Services Divisions. Patrol Services is responsible for all patrol and most investigations for all of the sheriff’s jurisdictions, including all five of the Sheriff’s contract cities, the Office of Emergency Services and the Sheriff’s communications center among others. Support Services division handles all financial and business operations, human resources, and the Sheriff’s regional training academy. These two divisions have a combined budget of $105 million dollars and 567 employees. The new Assistant Sheriff is immensely qualified to fill this role and will help to bring a fresh set of eyes to the department’s operations.
By Bill Buchanan
Some of my friends have children in their mid-twenties who still live at home. It seems that a universal lament from these friends is about how their kids are totally helpless around the house and expect their parents to do everything for them. These children pay no rent. They do not cook their own meals. They have to be cajoled into cleaning up after themselves, and for that matter, into doing pretty much anything for themselves.
I don’t have much patience with any of that. Let me go on record here with the following disclaimer: I was not a great kid. If left to my own devices, I would certainly have been the same way. But I was fortunate enough to have caring parents who loved me, but also knew that I needed to learn a few things to get along in the world. Two incidents from my childhood illustrate this. The first happened one Sunday when I was about seven or eight. The small country church we went to when I was young believed in getting everything they could out of the Sunday service. Everything was long. The songs were long. The prayers were long. And the sermons all seemed longer than the Bible itself. So one day, after thinking that I might grow old enough to shave before I ever got out of church that day, I came home, tore off my dress clothes and ran out the door to play ball with some friends.
My daddy came to the door, and called me inside. Now, my daddy had a deep, resonant voice that sounded something like God talking to Charleton Heston’s Moses in “The Ten Commandments”. When he was unhappy, there was nothing vague about it in the tone of his voice. You knew he was serious, and unless you wanted to make a date with the business-end of a belt, it was wise to pay attention. So I left my playmates and went to see what kind of trouble I was in this time.
Daddy took me into my bedroom, pointed to my rumpled suit and shirt and asked why my “good” clothes were in such a mess. I don’t remember what I said, but apparently it was not the right answer because he replied, “If you take care of things, they will last for a long time. I’m going to show you the right way to hang up a suit.” The implication being that this was a one-time demonstration, and the next time would probably involve the use of some negative reinforcement to get the point across.
That lesson took hold, and I was very good about hanging up my clothes as long as he was alive. After he died, and I became a teenager, I became moody and sloppy and careless – in other words, typical. I started dropping my clothes on the floor in of my room. My aunt, who lived with us, would dutifully pick up after me and either hang up my clothes if they were clean, or put them in the clothes hamper if they were not. I thought this was a pretty good deal, one that certainly worked well from my perspective. And it did until my mother came home one day from work and caught my aunt picking up after me. Mother immediately took me into my room, pointed to the clothes still on the floor, pointed to the clothes hamper in the bathroom and said, “That clothes hamper is 20 feet from here. If you are not physically able to walk in there and put your clothes in the hamper, then we need to take you to see Doctor Weatherly.” Then she led me into the room where my aunt was sitting. Mother pointed to her and said, “That woman is your aunt. She is not your maid, and you will not treat her as if she was.” Lesson learned. With the exception of a few years in college, I have been picking up my clothes ever since.
Let me make a second disclaimer: I do not have children. This was a conscious choice for Ava and me. Neither of us wanted children, and we decided the issue before we were married. We both like kids, love our nieces and nephews dearly. We just did not have the desire to be parents. Parenting is the most important job in the world, yet many people seem to give more thought to what kind of ring tone they want on their cell phone than to whether or not they would make a suitable parent. That may be a column for another day.
So Ava and I elected not to have any children, even in the wake of significant pressure from relatives – including extreme pressure from one of my aunts who never married, much less ever came close to having children. Ava deftly deflected one comment from my aunt, who queried, “Well, if you don’t have children, who will take care of you when you are old?” Ava’s reply was brilliant as well as accurate, “Just because you have children doesn’t mean they will take care of you later on.” Score one for Ava.
When my friends complain about their kids, I am usually not asked for my opinion. But that has never stopped me from giving it, anyway. So I would say that first of all these people may be your children, but they are not kids. These people are young adults. Then I would say that since they are young adults, they should be doing things for themselves. If you do everything for them, what motivates them to change? In another not-so-distant time, they would be charged with the responsibility of not only taking care of themselves, but for taking care of some of the rest of the family as well. If they do not take charge of their own lives now, then when? If they are not challenged to become mature now, then when exactly do they grow up?
We do not expect much of them, and they meet our expectations. I really think this carries over into a number of other areas. People have kidded me about my beloved Alabama football team (who disappointed me greatly this past weekend), and how Alabama always carries the unrealistic expectation of winning the National Championship into each season. That is right. It is unrealistic to expect to win every game. No one ever has, no one ever will. But I think if you expect to win every game, you will win your share. And I think you will win more times than those who expect less.
Is it any different with children? It seems to me that low expectations yield low results – whether you are talking about sports, the classroom, business, or life in general. There are a few exceptions. Some people will rise above what is expected of them, achieve more than anyone ever thought they would or could. But those people are rare. The rest of us need motivation. We need to be pushed. We need lofty goals set for us. We may not achieve those goals, but we need to be challenged to work toward them.
If parents don’t provide these challenges for their own children, then who will? And if not, how will these children ever be prepared for life?
By Misty Volaski
“I am only one, but I am one,” author Edward Everett Hale once wrote. “I cannot do everything, but I can do something.”
Ojai Community Bank took a page from Hale’s book Wednesday night, donating thousands of dollars to several Ojai Valley nonprofit organizations during the bank’s first-ever “Evening of Thanks” event.
Charitable giving has been important to the bank since its early days, said Don Scanlin, board chairman. “We instituted a program some time ago, where a person opening an account with us could choose a charity, and the bank itself would donate $25 (to that charity),” Scanlin explained. Each quarter, OCB sends out checks with the total amounts donated during the past three months, which can vary from $25 to hundreds of dollars.
But this quarter, bank employees wanted to do something a little extra.
“I don’t know that anyone has ever brought all these groups together in one place,” explained OCB community relations director Judy Gabriel. “They are usually the ones who are trying to help other people, trying to raise money, thanking people. We wanted to say thanks to all the nonprofits who support the Ojai Valley. Especially in these economic times, cities and governments can’t do everything, and what makes this valley so rich and thriving is the efforts of all these nonprofits.”
The bank opened its lobby for wine and appetizers Wednesday evening, complete with speeches, raffles and collaboration. “Several groups came up with new ways to work together,” Gabriel said.
Casa Barranca donated the wine for the night, and Casa Barranca wine baskets were awarded to raffle winners. A recent graduate of Tri-County Teen Challenge, attending with TC organizer Rosie Weire, won a triple-layer chocolate cake made by Peggy Russell. Knowing Russell’s baking prowess (she’s won dozens, perhaps hundreds, of blue ribbons at the Ventura County Fair), OCB President Dave Brubaker offered the girl a $100 donation to Tri-County Teen Challenge, if she would give him the cake. But Brubaker’s offer sparked a challenge of its own as Ojai Film Society board member Ron Phillips countered with a $200 donation to TC. Bysshe happily took home the coveted treat.
The grand prize raffle winner was Leslie Clark and her Nomad Foundation, which won a check for $250. Clark made a small speech explaining how the funds would continue to help the North African Tuareg nomads, who had been trained to build solar panels.
Charitable Giving Program funds topped $600 for Help of Ojai this quarter, a new record. The American Cancer Society was given $400, and San Antonio Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Organization received $125 to round out the top three amounts. So far this year, Ojai Community Bank’s Charitable Giving Program has given away more than $8,000, all in $25 increments from new account holders.
“This is in addition to our regular donations and sponsorships,” Gabriel said, which add several thousand more to that figure. “Our board has not put a limit on the amount we can give. We put aside $25,000 in the budget just for the charitable giving program. So we are prepared for it to grow! (Giving) was one of the bank’s founding principles. We feel that our role is to partner with the community to help keep it healthy and strong.”
Reins of H.O.P.E. (Human Opportunity Partnering with Equines) executive director Julie Sardonia said events and programs like OCB’s make a big difference, no mater the size of the nonprofit. “It’s great to get these checks in the mail! It’s astounding,” Sardonia said, whose organization provides equine-assisted psychotherapy to at-risk youths and veterans and their families. “It gives us the ability to continue to reach out and continue my mission of helping others. They also help us in the business arena, giving us tools to help us grow. I don’t know of any other bank that offers that kind of service, from the bank CEO down to the tellers. I truly feel supported — our organization may be small, but they see me as a valuable contributor to the community.”
Steenburgen, Danson clear out garage for local school
By Logan Hall
What can one expect to find at an event called “The Ultimate Garage Sale”? Valley resident Mary Steenburgen, accomplished actress and parent of former Oak Grove students, chair of the Oak Grove board Leone Webster and other families of current and former students have teamed up once again to benefit the school with their mega sale.
Taking place at the American Legion Hall in Ojai Saturday, several families will be selling many items ranging from furniture to electronics, all to help the school. “I’m very passionate about Oak Grove,” said Steenburgen in an interview with the OVN, “so this is something we do as a fundraiser. My friends and I always felt like it was a great way to recycle things we aren’t using anymore too.”
According to Webster, there will be hundreds of items available including fine art, jewelry and clothing, much of which will include designer labels. “Every year we collaborate and clean out all of our children’s things and all of the stuff we don’t need anymore,” she said. “We get some really great things to sell. People still come up to me and talk about the things they have gotten in previous sales we’ve had.”
According to Oak Grove School, many of their programs wouldn’t be possible without help from parents and the community. “As parents to Oak Grove alumni, Leone and Guy Webster and Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson have generously hosted many fund-raising garage sales to benefit our financial aid program,” said Meredy Rice, Oak Grove’s head of school, in an e-mail. “It supports our mission to assist students in developing those qualities of mind, heart and body that will enable them to function with excellence, care and responsibility in the modern world.”
All that are involved seem to share a great passion for education, and in particular, for Oak Grove. “I brought Hillary Clinton to Oak Grove in the ‘80s,” said Steenburgen, whose husband Danson also shares her affinity for the school. “She was absolutely blown away. She hasn’t stopped talking about it since.”
“All of our children went to Oak Grove,” added Webster. “This is a very special event for all of us that are involved.”
The sale will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow at the American Legion Hall, 843 E. Ojai Ave., across from Westridge Market. Credit cards will be accepted.
Mary M. Long
The long-awaited showdown over the use of Libbey Bowl by commercial enterprises came to a point of contention Tuesday night, and was resolved by a unanimous vote. With approval by Blatz, Olsen, Smith, Clapp and Horgan, the Bowl is on its way to becoming an economic engine for the city.
It was at city manager John Baker’s urging that the issue be discussed and dealt with immediately, reasoning that, “Since we’re putting $4 million ($3.2 million of which is coming from donors) into this project, we need to decide how we’re going to maintain it. We are building a first-class facility; we need to maintain it in a first-class way.”
His recommendations were to allow for-profit events and the sale of alcoholic beverages at events, and to secure the services of a venue manager.
Baker pressed council members to make a decision to give Libbey Bowl management time to book acts for the 2011-2012 season, since many acts book a year or two in advance. “We need to start now,” he said.
Public comment on Bowl use-for-profit was unanimously positive. Award-winning Ojai artist-composer-musician John Zeretzke, accompanied by local businesswoman Barbara Bowman, leant his support. A veteran of outdoor music festivals at Aspen and Idyllwild, he encouraged the use of the bowl for both local and touring acts.
“I’m always looking for great venues,” Zeretzke said, “so I support the idea of opening the bowl for both nonprofit, and for-profit organizations. Plus, it would be a great venue for local talent that we are so proud of such as Dave Mason, Robben Ford, (Ann) Kerry Ford, George Ball, Amanda McBroom and Perla Batala. This would really help to promote our city, business in Ojai and put us on the map as a great arts city.” Defeated Council candidate Dennis Leary didn’t have much to say, except to urge that all music genres get fair access. He professed a preference for rock ‘n roll “rather than sitting there like a bump on a log listening to classical.”
Bob Daddi noted that there was little distinction between nonprofit and profit, suggesting that events should just be referred to as enterprises. “Everyone needs to make a reasonable rate of return,” Daddi said. He also agreed to the sale of alcohol, but cautioned that such sales need to be controlled. Daddi estimated that the city would need to bring in at least $70,000 a year to maintain the bowl, and advised that the city get a “responsible distributor” in there to manage it. Suggesting that the Council “get started yesterday,” Daddi urged the Santa Barbara Bowl be used as a model. Demitri Corbin and Scott Eicher also threw their support to the proposal agreeing with Baker that such action is imperative.
Councilwoman Horgan summed up the situation in a practical manner. “Last year, we opened the bowl to only nonprofit events and took in only $3,000 in revenue. We are building a world-class venue and we need to let it blossom. We are on the cusp of something great.” she said, adding with a gesture, “let’s go for it!” And the Council did go for it with a unanimous approval of all three recommendations.
The other milestone that was passed Tuesday was the inception of a Blighted Building Ordinance for Ojai, one of Blatz’s campaign promises. Blatz was pleased to have brought to completion in only 90 days. However, unlike the Bowl vote, this went down with the staunch disapproval of Councilwoman Sue Horgan who logged the only “No” vote. Her contention was that we already have an ordinance in place that is sufficient, calling the proposed ordinance excessive. She worried that it could be construed as punitive towards people who are already in “dire straights,” and whose properties have fallen into disrepair through financial hardship. “This looks like government gone crazy,” she cautioned. Two weeks ago, she had motioned to continue study of the ordinance to allow for suggested revisions to be implemented. One of the things she had asked for is that staff prepare scenarios for what would happen to a few of the already designated blighted buildings under the new ordinance. One of those buildings was the vintage wood-frame house at 307 S. Blanch St. near City Hall. According to the hypothetical scenario, the ordinance would require the owners to make a dozen repairs, totaling many thousands of dollars. City attorney Monty Widders interjected, “There are numerous outlets for appeals, if, as you say, this is government gone amok.” Definition of the term “vacant” was discussed for multiple occupancy buildings. The Planning Commissioners had already modified the proposal from the original Palm Springs model, which they felt was too harsh. After some debate as to what was the least confusing wording, council settled on defining multiple-tenant commercial buildings as vacant if less then 65 percent of the building is occupied. The measure was passed 4-1 against Horgan’s objections. The ordinance will be implemented 31 days after being approved. Staff has already prepared a list of buildings which have been determined to be vacant. Ninety days after the ordinance has been adopted those designated properties will be required to come into compliance with the requirements outlined. The most immediately noticeable effect on vacant commercial buildings will be the required removal of chain link fencing, which, citing unintended consequences,” some fear will invite an invasion of homeless.
On Dec. 14, the newly elected City Council members will take their seats and the reigns of city government. As of this writing, Carlon Strobel and Paul Blatz have won two of those seats, but only ten votes separate challenger Len Klaif and incumbent Carol Smith for the final Council seat.
José Calderon, owner of the property on Olive Street where a studio burned early yesterday morning, points up at the spot where he saw flames coming out of the window. Photo by Logan Hall
By Lenny Roberts
A single-alarm fire at 16 Olive Street destroyed a two-bedroom Oak View cottage early Tuesday morning and sent one victim to the hospital. The fire was reported to 911 dispatchers at 1:42 a.m.
Ojai Fire Station 21 irefighter Tony McHale said firefighters from Station 23 were first to arrive on scene, but had difficulty locating the home because it is surrounded by several other residences and structures. “When they got on scene, there were three residents. One female was injured apparently as she was getting out of the house,” McHale said. “She was taken to VCMC in stable condition.” Another ambulance was called to the scene, but the two other occupants of the home refused medical treatment, according to McHale, who added the family dog got out of the home safely, but a cat is missing.
McHale described the fire as stubborn, but quickly knocked down by engines from three valley fire stations. Other responders included a battalion chief and a light and air unit from Station 57.
McHale said the damage was pretty extensive, describing the home as a total loss. The Ventura County Chapter of the American Red Cross is providing the residents with shelter and basic needs. “They lost everything,” McHale said.
According to the report, there were no working smoke detectors in the residence.
The fire was knocked down at 1:59 a.m., and mop-up activity was completed at 4:21 a.m. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Southern California Bulldog Rescue representative and Ojai resident Tammi Leckie speaks with shelter officer Jennifer Thaler about rescuing this English bulldog. Photo by Mary M. Long
By Mary M. Long
“When I did the numbers, I knew I had to do something,” said Monica Nolan, director of Animal Services for Ventura County. With more than 2,500 animals surrendered this year, the numbers were up 500 from the same time last year. As an animal lover, Nolan takes her responsibility to heart, and decided to slash adoption rates through the end of November. “Thanks for Giving Them a Home” is the shelter’s holiday program that she hopes will bring more adoptive families into the shelter. “I think it’s working,” said Nolan, who is based at the Camarillo shelter. “We’re definitely getting more traffic.” Adoption fees, which are normally $125, are now just $60 for any dog or cat, a 50 percent discount. “It’s a package deal that includes license, spay or neuter, micro-chip, initial vaccinations and a certificate for a free veterinary exam. It’s a very good deal,” explained Nolan.
Sherry Brockus, executive director of the Humane Society of Ventura County in Ojai, said that they are following Nolan’s lead and are also cutting their adoption fees in half for the holidays. “We’re working together to help place animals in new homes,” said Brockus, who asked that “kudos” be given to workers at both shelters. The Ojai shelter is located at 402 Bryant St.
The Camarillo shelter, meanwhile, is also offering free dog training to anyone adopting a dog as part of their retention program, helping dogs and their owners achieve skills for successful partnering. “We love your animals, but we don’t want to see them back here again,” laughed Nolan. Lessons are conducted by Deena Case-Paul, animal behaviorist and trainer, and are held on site at the shelter.
Cats are even less likely to find a warm hearth for the holidays as dogs, according to Nolan. “I feel sorry for cats, people don’t micro-chip them, they don’t license their cats and they allow their cats to roam.” Stray cats are also reclaimed by their owners at a much lower rate than dogs.
Animal Control officer Denise Callaway opened the door to the cat room and said, “People need to see what beautiful cats and kittens we have available.” A few mature cats, and kittens in every color, were eager to go home with visitors. Many would start purring just at the anticipation of being petted.
The shelter is also proud of its rabbit program. Hosted by the Bunny Brigade, which has taken over care of relinquished bunnies, the adoption rate of rabbits has tripled. On the weekends, the bunnies cavort in playpens on the shelter lawn, so that visitors can get to know the benefits of bunny love. Bunnies may be adopted for $15 with the Bunny Brigade offering free guidance to new rabbit owners. Recently the all-volunteer group received an award from Pet Smart for their efforts.
Breed rescues are taking a little strain off the shelter, although animal control officer Jennifer Thaler said, “I think all rescues are overwhelmed right now.” Ojai resident and representative of Southern California Bulldog Rescue Tammi Leckie was taking home a small English bulldog, who was suffering with a condition called “cherry eye.” The condition will be corrected with surgery, and then Bulldog Rescue will “re-home” her with a new family. “This is the most mellow bulldog I have ever met,” said Thaler, as she gave the dog a tummy rub.
Leckie has been working with Bulldog Rescue for about six months, and worries about the amount of animals being abandoned by their owners. “We have 60 dogs in rescue right now where we would normally have about 20. People just can’t afford surgeries for their pets, so special needs animals, like this bulldog, are often passed by for adoption.”
Leckie and other rescue workers are bracing themselves for the down side of the upcoming Christmas holiday. “We’re concerned that people are breeding for Christmas litters,” she said. “We see many people giving up their older dogs right before the holidays so that they can make room for a Christmas puppy. People should see this,” she said, waving her hand at the rows of abandoned dogs, “before they make a choice to breed.”
One little Lhasa apso was brought in by family members when its owner passed away. “If his owner knew he was here, she would roll over in her grave,” said officer Callaway, who gave the ragged little head a pat. “I hope he gets a home, he just doesn’t deserve to be here.” Just then, a family walked in leading a small white Maltese. “Here comes another one,” Callaway sighed. The little dog looked happy to be going for a walk. Evidently he had not realized yet that his owners were going home without him.
For more information or to view adoptable pets, visit the Ojai Humane Society on Bryant Street or online at humanesocietyvc.org. Photos and videos of adoptable animals at the Camarillo location can be viewed online at portal.countyofventura.org/portal/page/portal/animalreg
, or in person at the Ventura County Animal Shelter at 600 Aviation Drive in Camarillo (which is open every day but Tuesday).
Across county, thousands of mail-in, provisional ballots
yet to be counted as Ojai awaits final word on close races
By Misty Volaski
The polls may be closed, but in many races across Ventura County, the results are still wide open. And Ojai is no different.
Tuesday’s midterm election brought several clear winners for the Ojai Valley, such as Mary Bergen for Casitas Municipal Water District, who took a convincing 50.88 percent of the votes over Bob McDonald (29.1 percent) and John Drury (19.05 percent).
But other races, like City Council and Ojai Unified School District board, cannot be called yet due to a large number of as-yet uncounted mail-in and provisional ballots. At this point, it is safe to say that both Paul Blatz and Carlon Strobel have large enough leads to be considered winners of two of the three open City Council positions. But with only 30 votes separating Len Klaif from Carol Smith, neither camp is prepared to claim victory until all the votes have been counted and certified by the county.
Outgoing Mayor Steve Olsen (who did not seek re-election), said, “Ojai was fortunate to have well-qualified candidates for the residents to choose from. I would like to congratulate those that won and remind them that the hard work begins now.”
Blatz offered thanks and gratitude for earning the most votes, 1,358, and promised to continue working on hiring a new city manager, see through the completion of Libbey Bowl construction, and work on ordinances cleaning up vacant buildings along Ojai Avenue, along with many other things. “I am truly honored by the confidence you have shown in me to serve on your behalf,” he said in a prepared statement. “I especially want to thank all those volunteers who worked tirelessly on my campaign with a special thanks to my campaign manager and son, Ryan Blatz, who ran an impressive campaign. And to Cindy Latella, who once again was my campaign assistant and the ‘Eagle’ you may have seen at the ‘Y.’ My election victory would not have been possible without their help.”
Strobel, who garnered the second position for City Council with 1,162 votes, said after the election chaos, she is looking forward to a trip to the East Coast with friends. “We’re shopping and eating our way up the coast for two weeks,” she laughed. “Then when we get back, it’s time to get to work. I’m very excited, but I know it’s going to be a lot of work. I’ve watched the council for many years (as former city clerk and recorder), and I know how hard they work. I’m ready.”
In the OUSD race, Kathi Smith claimed 3,926 votes so far, while fellow incumbent Rikki Horne garnered 3,355. The third position is currently held by Pauline Mercado, but her 2,319 votes put her only three votes ahead of challenger Susan Malkin, meaning it’s still very much anyone’s game.
OUSD superintendent Hank Hank Bangser offered the following quote, assuming the three-vote margin in Mercado’s favor is maintained: “Each of the three incumbents has contributed significantly to the leadership of the district over many years. I am very pleased that they will be continuing in this most challenging time for all public schools in California and definitely in Ojai. I congratulate Susan Malkin for her fine campaign effort.”
Despite the unanswered questions, it could still be a week or more until Ventura County officials are prepared to release the final results, according to assistant registrar of voters, Tracy Saucedo.
Tens of thousands of vote-by-mail ballots from across the county have yet to be counted, she added, but the majority of those will mostly likely be counted by Saturday. Before they can get to the 11,000 provisional ballots, however, the county must first go through all 357 polling place rosters, and scan in each individual bar code to verify that no one voted at more than one polling place. “We’ve got to make sure they didn’t vote twice,” Saucedo said. “They might’ve returned a vote by mail ballot and gone to a polling place. That process takes three to four days.” Then, it’s on to the provisional ballots.”
Once the results are certified, recounts can be demanded, “But whoever wants a recount does have to pay for it,” Saucedo pointed out.
City Council members will not be sworn into office until Dec. 14, according to Rhonda Basore, deputy city clerk. Should incumbent and Mayor Pro Tem Carol Smith be certified in the third council position, she will be sworn into the mayoral position at that time. But if Klaif is elected, Basore said, then as deputy clerk she will ask for a vote by council members, and a new mayor will be sworn in that night as well.
Other local winners are as follows: City Clerk, Cynthia Burell, 1,375 (70.95 percent); Ojai Valley Sanitary District, Division 4, Bill O’Brien, 509 (57.19 percent); Ojai Valley Sanitary District, Division 6, Stan Greene, 664 (62.23 percent).
Ojai’s Howard Freiberg holds a jar of Skippy peanut butter along with the 3-inch blade he claims was in the peanut butter when his son opened the jar. Photo by Logan Hall
Ojai family finds a lot more than sandwich spread inside
By Logan Hall
Most people wouldn’t have a second thought about what was inside a can of soda, a bag of rice or a jar of Skippy peanut butter. Local man Howard Freiberg and his family may think twice about consuming their favorite products before first checking the contents.
Freiberg’s 15-year-old son David was making a snack and was about to use a new jar of Skippy peanut butter, when he noticed something out of the ordinary. “David was making a smoothie with bananas, peanut butter and juice and stuff like that,” said Freiberg. “All of a sudden, he called my wife and I into the kitchen.”
According to Freiberg, his son had dipped a knife into the jar when he hit something metallic. “My first thought was that he had broken the knife in the jar and didn’t want to say anything,” said Freiberg. “It didn’t take long to find out that wasn’t it.”
Freiberg’s son had found a 3-inch blade buried in the Skippy jar.
“That thing has a serrated blade on one side, and a smooth, sharp edge on the other,” said Freiberg. “We didn’t know what it was or where it came from, but it sure didn’t belong in a peanut butter jar.”
Freiberg received a letter from Skippy’s parent company, Unilever Consumer Services after calling with his grievance. The letter stated that Unilever was concerned by Freiberg’s report and asserted that quality control is of the “utmost importance” to the company. “We make every effort to ensure that our products reach the consumer in perfect condition …” said Unilever claims specialist Lillian Cybulski in the letter to Freiberg.
Along with the letter, Freiberg also received coupons for, of all things, Skippy peanut butter. “It seems funny to me that they would send us coupons for the product that we had found a blade in,” said Freiberg. “I don’t think we’ll use those any time soon.”
Unilever defends the products they represent and claim that their methods of product inspection are thorough. “We take consumer complaints about our products very seriously,” said Unilever spokesperson Anita Larson. “Every Unilever product undergoes rigorous safety and quality control procedures.”
When asked about the possibility of a blade being found in a Skippy jar, Larson said that Freiberg hadn’t sent the product into them for inspection, which is a vital part of finding out what happened. “I think it’s important to note that we’ve reached out to the consumer to obtain the product in question, but as yet, we’ve not received it,” said Larson. “We would very much like to receive it so we can investigate this matter further.”
Freiberg says that, though he hasn’t yet, he may still hire a lawyer to look into his case. He claims that although he has the pre-paid mailer that Unilever sent to him, he is reluctant to hand over the blade in question. “I want to have evidence of this,” said Freiberg. “If I send it to Unilever, I think it could be down-played and forgotten about.”
Freiberg says that he may get a lawyer, but it’s not for the money. “I’m interested in hiring a lawyer, not for monetary gain, but for public interest,” he said. “I want to shed some light on this and let people know that this kind of thing can and does happen. What if some kid puts his finger in a peanut butter jar and gets cut? What if the blade was smaller and we didn’t notice until someone swallowed it? These guys got lucky no one was hurt by this thing.”
By Misty Volaski
It’s movie time in the valley.
The Ojai Film Festival has returned, bringing more than 60 films and dozens of actors, directors, screenwriters and animators to the valley for the annual event, which wraps Sunday night. This year’s expanded lineup will include screenings both indoors and out, at the Ojai Center for the Arts, Theater 150, the Ojai Playhouse and the Ojai Valley Woman’s Club.
“We have brought the festival more into the downtown area,” said OFF executive director Jamie Fleming. “The Art Center will be the hub. The beauty and spirit we’re building is it’s a destination film festival. We want everyone to be able to enjoy all Ojai has to offer — art galleries, spas, hiking, the Arcade and stores, all the fantastic restaurants — and at the same time, really enjoy quality films.”
All the films follow the uplifting theme of this year’s festival, he added.
OFF will feature films short and long, color and black and white, animation and live action. The Gold Coast Screenings on Sunday at Theater 150 are new this year; these have been made by folks living in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. And while the local filmmakers are not entered in the awards segment of the festival, “Ojai is such an artist community, and you have a lot of filmmakers in the region,” Fleming said. “So this is a good chance to show off what they do. It’s all ages, animation, short films, long.”
Jessika Satori, who moved to Ojai about six months ago from Fresno, offers her short film, “Appellation,” a story about a family of wine makers who are fighting over a will they knew nothing about. “It’s quite shocking — high conflict,” said Satori. “My background is a business professor, and there is so much about small business and family business that can be written about. The challenges that small businesses have making ends meet, and all the personalities.” Shot in Fresno over three days at the Milla Winery, the film “is authentic to what the reading of a will would be like,” Satori added.
Patagonia will also be on hand at Sunday’s screenings, with five of its own adventure films, executive director Fleming said. “One film is on mountaineering. In another, a guy lost his arm but is a champion paddle boarder and shows how he overcame that, using an artificial limb. Another is about a rancher. They are all just fascinating.”
Filmmakers from most of the local movies will be available for question-and-answer sessions after each film. In charge of the Gold Coast Screenings is local Realtor Erik Wilde, who gave a sneak peek at Ojai Valley filmmaker Steve Schrenzel’s “From the Mara Soil.”
“It’s about Africa, and what they face, with water (shortages) and starvation,” Wilde said. “It’s a great documentary, just beautifully shot. And these are all great films — they have to pass really strict sets of eyes.”
At 4 p.m. Sunday, Gold Coast Screenings will wind down with award-winning films from students of Ventura’s Brooks Institute, a photography and videography school just off Highway 33.
But the Film Festival is about more than just the screenings themselves, Fleming said. Various industry professionals will host panel discussions on such subjects as acting, screenwriting, 3-D filmmaking and cinematography.
“Randall Dark will bring some real filmmaking cutting-edge technology,” Fleming said. “Everyone goes to see 3-D films now — so where is the technology going, what is the next step, what is coming? This man is one of the top 3-D independent filmmakers and is coming all the way from Texas.”
Along with Craig T. Nelson, of “Coach” fame, cinematographer Michael Chapman will be awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award Saturday night. But before that, Chapman will host a 4 p.m. cinematography panel discussion, and will also be onhand after the screening of one of his films, “Raging Bull,” Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Matilija Auditorium. “The complexity that Michael was able to use in his camera setups is unheard of, unbelievable,” said Fleming. “Cinema schools point to his films and say, ‘This is how you shoot Academy Award-winning movies.’”
Perhaps most exciting for local aspiring actors is the Act True Actors’ Workshop, slated for Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Ojai Valley Woman’s Club. “We’re bringing in one of the top acting coaches. To make it even better, we have Paul Weber, senior vice president of casting for MGM. This is a really special thing, we’re hoping the local younger folks will realize what a special thing this is. It’s a huge opportunity to be in front of these people.”
For tickets and a complete lineup of screenings, panels and
By Logan Hall
Santa Paula Chevrolet teamed up with the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa to aid Help of Ojai and the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation. Bringing 100 cars from the dealership in Santa Paula, Chevrolet set up shop at the old Ford dealership building, owned by the inn, and sold their cars to consumers in the valley.
Each charity received a check for $2,500 from both OVI and Chevrolet totaling $10,000 in donations.
John Macik, owner of Santa Paula Chevrolet, says that his dealership sold 25 cars with at least 17 being sold at or as a result of the event in Ojai. A portion of the proceeds from car sales was donated to the two charities, while the inn donated the property rental fee paid by the dealership.
“This is a feel-good sort of thing,” said OVI spokesperson Veronica Cole. “This wasn’t a revenue-producing venture for us. It’s a win-win situation. Everyone benefits.”
Cindy Jones, development director at the Youth Foundation, and Kelly Ventimiglia, development director for Help of Ojai, both appreciate the donations and say the money will go toward valuable community projects. “We have had to cut our staff significantly,” said Jones, “but we have more and more kids that want to participate in our programs. We really appreciate the help from Santa Paula Chevrolet and the Ojai Valley Inn.”
Ventimiglia says that Help of Ojai will use the funds for their Senior Transportation Program and shares similar thoughts about the donations. “We were very happy to have the support of Chevrolet and the inn. They are great supporters of our organizations.”
By Bill Buchanan
In light of recent dog attacks, specifically by pit bulls, we have heard the talk of whether or not pit bulls should be banned. The Ojai Valley News online survey question last Friday was “should owning a pit bull be illegal?” Fifty-eight percent of those responding said “no.”
I have to side with the “no’s.” Maybe I would change my opinion if one took a sizeable chunk out of my leg. But I would hope not.
Yes, pit bulls are an aggressive breed. One of my dogs, Sam, is part pit bull. While he is so sweet we often call him “Sam the Lamb”, I have seen the aggressive side of him when someone he doesn’t know comes to the front door. For some reason, uniforms seem to set him off. The UPS deliveryman and our postal carrier (who is the nicest guy in the world and loves dogs) really bring something out in him. I don’t know if it is the uniform, or if it is just the fact that they use the front door, but he has really gotten upset a couple of times, showing a side I had not seen before. He doesn’t get when someone comes to the side door, which is where all our friends enter. But the UPS guy and the postal carrier are his enemies for some reason. So, while he is very sweet, we keep our eye on Sam when he is around new people.
Pit bulls, like Rottweilers and Dobermans can be aggressive dogs. They belong in the hands of informed and responsible owners. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Too often, people choose dogs for the wrong reasons. They do not research their breeds, and end up with something entirely different than what they imagined.
This is true not just of pit bulls, but many other dogs as well. For instance, the movie “101 Dalmatians” is probably one of the worst things to ever happen to humane societies and animal shelters. Many people saw that movie, went out and bought cute adorable puppies for their small children, only to find out that Dalmatians are usually not suitable dogs for small children. There was a similar instance with some former neighbors of ours who bought a Schipperke for their small children. Schipperkes are as cute a dog as you will ever see. They are very small, have alert pointed ears, usually no tail and a face that is a heartbreaker. They are also active, demanding, and if not properly trained, will take over a household. If these dogs weighed 150 pounds instead of 12-18, they would rule the world.
Our neighbors’ Schipperke, Lily, was not a good choice for their small kids at all. Consequently, she got banished to the back yard, received no attention and got very lonely. She constantly escaped and came to our house, where she wanted to be with our dogs and my and me for companionship. We eventually wound up with Lily, and gave her to a friend. She is a great little dog. She just wasn’t right for that situation.
Another case of a wrong-headed choice came from some good friends of ours who thought they would get a cute little Border Collie for their children – again, a great dog, but a terrible choice. Border Collies are working dogs. They need lots of space, lots of exercise. They are at their happiest when herding cattle or sheep. The suburbs of Birmingham are not exactly a working farm or ranch. And our friends did not have cattle, they had two little girls. So their mom would often look out the window to see the dog nipping at the girls’ heels as he herded them into a corner of the yard and kept them there until she came out and rescued them. They eventually had to get rid of the dog.
So many bad endings could be avoided if people would simply research their breeds before they get a dog. It is very easy to do on-line, and the Humane Society of Ventura here in Ojai has just such information on their website (http://www.humanesocietyvc.org/home/). You can easily access it under the “adoption” heading, where you will find “dog breed information” listed.
I believe that just as with the breeds I have mentioned above, most pit bull problems are with the owners rather than the dogs. People get the dogs without proper research, nor proper training and handling, and the problems escalate from there – especially as the dogs get larger.
There are exceptions to this, of course. Some people acquire pit bulls solely for illegal purposes such as fighting, or for guarding things that are illegal. These sick people take an aggressive breed; train it to become even more aggressive. It is very sad and almost inconceivable that someone would abuse an animal so. Unfortunately, it happens way too much. Those people should be horsewhipped.
So let’s not ban a good breed of dog because of a relatively few improper owners. As it is with most things, education is the key, and little will change without it.
By Lenny Roberts
From Mark Twain, who coined it, to Steve Jobs more recently, many people have used the phrase, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
As far as I know, I’m still alive. But my friend and boss Bill Buchanan’s commentary in Friday’s edition has been misinterpreted by many well-wishers who think I’m rolling up my career at the OVN. To set the record straight, I’m not.
I have macular dystrophy and inherited pattern macular degeneration. My mom, her brother, two sisters and her mother had it, and it’s not pretty. It robs us of our vision a little at a time. I knew this was coming for a long time, actually about 10 years ago when Rob Graham sent me for retinal testing after I “failed” a field vision test. It has progressed to the point where, despite the DMV approving my renewal in May for five years, I am smart enough to know that I do not see well enough to drive under most conditions. The odd part about this is my vision is 20/35 and 20/40 — numbers many people my age and younger would love to have. It the blind spots that, according to Dr. Peter Quiros at the University of Southern California Doheny Eye Clinic, actually make me legally blind. What I see I see very clearly. But I don’t see very much. It’s the dying off of retinal cells that causes the condition. Don’t get me started on George W’s blocking of stem cell research. The doctors don’t know how fast my condition will progress. All I know is I can function fairly well at this point. But if we meet face to face and I don’t recognize you, please understand.
My friends know how I feel. I’m bummed about this. But I’m not going to whine about it. There are so many people dealing with life-threatening illnesses that I don’t have the right to complain. According to author Molly Ivins, “You got to dance with them what brung you.” So get down the fiddle and get down the bow.
I would love to sit in the managing editor’s desk at the OVN until I drooled all over my keyboard as was carried out. But it has become increasingly more difficult to handle the job. I find myself working too slowly and making too many mistakes others have to fix, and it’s time to step down.
Working at the Ojai Valley News is an honor. We are entrusted to regularly bring one of the greatest communities on the planet useful, reliable and important information. We try to keep that focus in every issue. Important to that obligation is knowing which people will be a good fit. I have been fortunate enough to hire some very special local talent over the years. One such treasure is Misty Volaski, whom I hired about nine years ago pretty much on a hunch. She grew up at the Ojai Valley News. A couple of years ago, she left us to sell broadcast advertising in Ventura. She made more money, but was not happy. She said her heart was in the OVN, and she wanted to work here forever. As I remember it, about five years ago, she caught a nasty bug and was bed-ridden for a couple of days, Despite that, she came to work — in her “jammies,” and got the Sports page out on time while taking rest periods on the floor by her desk. That is just one small example of Misty’s dedication.
When I made the decision to step down, the obvious choice to replace me was Misty. She knows the community newspaper business and will serve our community well in the capacity of managing editor. She’s vibrant, energetic and likeable, but tough when she needs to be.
As for me, I will still report on police issues in the Ojai Valley. I love that part of my job. In addition, I have taken over management of video operations at the OVN, and will bring our online readers more video content. I will also continue to assist in the production of pages, and continually update the content of our website. The only difference is that I will not be in the office to perform these duties.
I want to thank all who have left voice messages, e-mails and blog responses after learning of my new role. Your thoughts mean a lot to me.
I may be gone from the office, but hopefully not forgotten.
By Linda Harmon
It was a great autumn afternoon in Libbey Park as about 50 people gathered for one of those small-town moments complete with a tray of cupcakes and the Nordhoff brass quintet playing an upbeat “Blue Skies.” The crowd, which contained many strategic players in Libbey Bowl’s reconstruction, was assembled for a press conference celebrating the first milestone in the construction of the new bowl. The impressive foundation lies nestled under the trees beyond what was affectionately referred to as “Mount Libbey,” the dirt removed during the bowl’s excavation.
Mayor Steve Olsen called the occasion to order as representatives of the city, Libbey Bowl project staff, assorted fundraisers, and other project partners joined together to mark the occasion.
“It has been an honor to work with everyone who has been involved in this,” said Olsen as he turned the microphone over to Mike Culver, Public Works director.
Culver then walked the crowd through the completed steps of the project saying, “So far we are on time and on budget,” which brought loud applause from the audience.
Culver thanked all involved, the builder, project manager, and architect for the quality of their workmanship, and to the fundraisers who he said, “… raised the extra money, without which we wouldn’t be here.”
Culver said in the next few months people will begin to see “the arch above Libbey Bowl.” By Valentine’s Day the structure would be covered, and by Easter the seating should be installed.
“I personally tested the seats to make sure they were broad enough,” said Culver, getting a laugh. “If I can sit in them, anybody can.”
Esther Wachtell, president of the Ojai Festivals board of directors, then came to the podium.
“I almost got weepy listening to those talented musicians, the first musicians to play in the new Libbey Bowl,” said Wachtell. “This is really the bowl that Ojai built. Over 750 families contributed with an average donation of $250. That says how important this facility really is.”
Wachtell says her group has a lot planned for the upcoming months, even before the new bowl is completed. It will be inaugurated by “some of the biggest events Ojai has ever seen” including a gala on June 4 and “A Day of Music,” a free all-day musical event, on June 5.
“Alan Rains and his service club will be conducting ‘hard hat tours’ bi-monthly so people can see the progress,” said Wachtell. “And one Saturday a month community organizations will be invited to perform and watch the progress as the bowl starts to grow.”
Also mentioned was an art installation by Trimpin. An internationally acclaimed artist, Trimpin has exhibited temporary installations as part of past music festivals, either at Libbey Park or the Ojai Valley Museum.
“Trimpin has agreed to create a sound sculpture for us that donors will be able to purchase ticket opportunities for,” said Barbara Hirsch, who is in charge of the fund-raising. “We will be selling 100 tickets at $500 each with proceeds to benefit the bowl. He already has a concept for a sculpture that patrons can place either inside or outside.”
Ojai Festivals executive director Jeff Haydon and architect David Bury then further clarified what has already been accomplished along with the foundation, including the channels for the under-grounding of all electrical wiring, “so there will be no more tripping over cables,” and the increase of the height of the bowl by 6 feet, which will improve acoustics and the sound range.
With rebar outlining the cement footprint of where the new bowl is rising, the crowd used their imaginations to fill in the pieces. The afternoon provided a sneak peek at another landmark in the making, Ojai’s new Libbey Bowl.
VENTURA COUNTY SHERIFF
Adrian Albert Castro, 18, Ventura
Christina Arellano, 20, Ojai
Ojai Station deputies responded to a robbery that had occurred on the bicycle trail in the area of north Ventura Avenue and Highland Drive, in Mira Monte. The victim, a 14-yr old male, reported that a Hispanic male and female approached him and inquired about his Ipod. During that conversation, the male suspect demanded the Ipod from the victim, who initially refused to give it to the suspect. The male suspect then displayed a knife and again demanded the Ipod. The victim, fearing for his safety, gave his Ipod to the suspect and then fled the area.
The victim informed deputies that he had later seen the suspects in the area of the Rite-Aid Pharmacy, located at 11496 North Ventura Avenue. Deputies searched the area and found the two suspects identified as Adrian Castro and Christina Arellano, at the nearby McDonald’s restaurant.
Deputies recovered a knife and the victim’s stolen Ipod in Castro’s possession. An in-field lineup was completed and both suspects were positively identified as the robbery suspects.
Castro was also found to be on parole for a previous bank robbery at the Oak View Rabobank that occurred in January of 2008.
The two suspects were transported and booked into the Ventura County Jail. Castro was booked on charges of robbery, participation in a criminal street gang, and violation of his parole. Arellano was booked as an accessory to robbery.
Officer Preparing Release: Senior Deputy J. Popp