By Chris T. Wilson
An Ojai woman who was living in Tokyo until recently has just returned to her North Signal Street home where she held a kirtan fund-raising event for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami.When the massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Japan on March 11, longtime Ojai resident and yoga teacher Katrina MacLachlan, was there.”When it hit, at first I wasn’t too scared but then it just kept going and going,” MacLachlan said. “I live in a low-rise, and I was afraid of getting sandwiched, so I went upstairs. I felt like everything was going to fall apart.”Nearby a hospital loudspeaker was broadcasting tsunami warnings and then a 7.7 magnitude aftershock hit. Everyone was outside, she recalls.”It went on and on,” she said. “For another hour we kept having earthquakes and for the entire day the earth was constantly shaking.”MacLachlan, who has lived in Japan since 2006, and has also lived abroad in Europe, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and also owns a home in Ojai, grew very concerned about the safety of her dogs. And when the fears of nuclear radiation became more serious, she made the choice to return to California.Her husband, Ross MacLachlan, Asia sales director for a food technology company, has stayed behind, but has moved his company offices to a temporary location in Osaka.”My first inclination was to want to stay and help, but I was very concerned about my pets,” she said. “I was very fortunate because the tenant in my house on Signal had just moved out, so I didn’t have to stay in a hotel. The first thing I did was start organizing a fund raiser to do what I could to send help to the tsunami victims.”MacLachlan called on her friends and acquaintances to set up the event. Being a yoga teacher, she brought together three local musicians for an evening kirtan, a devotional gathering of drumming, chanting and song.”I copied a bunch of photographs from The New York Times and had them enlarged into poster size and had them mounted,” she said. “The Ojai Business Center was very helpful.About 50 people gathered at her home on North Signal to enjoy the singing, chanting and drumming.”Lulu Bandha’s brought the pillows and The Ojai Retreat brought rugs,” MacLachlan said. “We had some really wonderful music. It was beautiful.”The musicians who performed and led in the kirtan were Judy Piazza, who plays drums and a multitude of other instruments, drummer and musician Tony Khalife, and Michael Reidinger, who plays all kinds of percussion instruments, cymbals and chimes.”They all donated their time,” she said. “We had an eclectic mix of people. For me the important thing was to focus attention back on tsunami victims and pray for them rather than focus on the nuclear situation. These people need to know that we care.”Prior to leaving Japan, MacLachlan suggested to a local grocery store owner there that he set up donation bins in his market. He followed through on her suggestion and has been sending truckloads of food and clothing to the tsunami victims in Sendai, Japan.”The fund raiser brought in about $500 which I donated to the Red Cross for Japan Earthquake Tsunami Relief Fund through Bank of America,” she said. “At this point, I’m just waiting for the ‘all clear’ from my husband, and then I plan to return to Japan.”
By Logan Hall
Shelf Road hikers have noticed a new shade of yellow popping up on the path —and it’s not mustard flowers. The County of Ventura Transportation Department has put up notices stating the department is proposing vacating the road, but county and city officials say it will not affect the public’s use of the area. In somewhat complicated wording, the notice states that the county board of supervisors “… declares that it intends to vacate a portion of the … county highway subject to the reservation of specified easements and rights.”Some Shelf Road regulars found the notice to be confusing, but the county’s intention, although absent from the notice, is to reclassify the road as a trail and hand the specified area over to the County Parks Department.” As soon as I saw it,” said Gayle Bertsch, local resident and frequent Shelf Road hiker, “I thought it kind of looked like we had a new crisis to deal with, but I called the number (on the notice) immediately and they clarified that nothing will change for us.”According to county officials, the public will still have full use of the area.”The Transportation Department is vacating the road,” said David Fleisch, director of transportation for the county Public Works Department. “The County Parks Department will pick it up as a trail, just like they did with Sulphur Mountain. There won’t be any physical changes to the area and the public will still have the same access.”The Ojai City Council had discussed the notice at last week’s council meeting, but due to the vague nature of the text, council members were also unclear on the reasoning for the county’s proposal. The council decided to send a letter to Fleisch, who subsequently responded, detailing the process more thoroughly. Some concern was raised by Councilwoman Carlon Strobel, that if the area was vacated, the county could sell it to a private entity.Fleisch assures that is not the case. “The county is not giving way to a private company,” he said.The County Board of Supervisors closed Shelf Road to vehicles in 1976 and the county has not done any maintenance on the road since 1990 according to Fleisch. “With a road, people could theoretically drive on it,” said Fleisch. “It’s just not being used that way.”Both the county and the city are quick to assure the public that they will still have the same right to use to the area. “Don’t worry,” said Mayor Carol Smith, addressing the public at the council meeting. “You will still be able to access Shelf Road.”
The Libbey Bowl Sound Arch is taking shape as artist Trimpin prepares the mechanical wonder for the bowl’s grand opening. The arch will infuse state of the art electronics with music to create a work of art that is a fitting entrance to the new bowl. As a person approaches, sensors will trigger the arch and a melodic wave of sound will begin to pour from it. “This is giving music another dimension to explore,” said Trimpin. “Each individual will have their own interpretation of what they experience.” Pictured, Trimpin attends to details atop the arch.
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
I guess it’s fitting that this column is being published on April Fool’s Day. You know how it feels when you do something that you know in your gut you shouldn’t do, but you do it anyway, and it blows up in your face? That was me last week.I flew out of LAX instead of Burbank. I knew it might turn out badly; I haven’t flown in or out of LAX in over 10 years. The first time Ava and I traveled to Ojai to look at the newspaper, we flew into LAX. When we met Ren and Victoria Adam, they asked us about the flight, and where we landed. When we told them we flew into LAX, they both looked like they had just sipped soured milk. They told us LAX was bad news, that we should fly in and out of Burbank. That really hit home when we were flying back to Alabama. While returning our rental car, I got hopelessly lost trying to find the rental car lot. I had to go back to the terminal and follow the Hertz bus, making every stop it made, until it led me back to the rental lot.I quickly discovered that by the time I got my luggage and car at LAX, I could be halfway to Ojai from Burbank. So, I went on a 10-year hiatus from LAX — until last week. While searching Delta’s website, I found a great, cheap flight out of LAX. I started to dismiss it out of hand, but the flight cut almost three hours off my travel time on a comparable Delta flight. I stared at the flight. It was just sitting there, tempting me like a bacon cheeseburger tempts a man on a diet. I gave into temptation and booked it.So, prudently (I thought) I left for the airport three hours before my 10:30 a.m. flight. Traffic started backing up in Oxnard — not a good sign. A sinking feeling in my stomach that told me I wasn’t going to get there in time. The sinking feeling was right. I missed my flight by 15 minutes.Well, I wasn’t happy, but I saw there was another flight in an hour, and so I stood patiently (sort of) in line. There were scores of people traveling, and the queue seemed endless. But I had plenty of time, right? Finally, I got to the agent, and told her about my predicament. After she endlessly keyed in various options, she got a strange look on her face. It was the same look your accountant has when she tells you you’re about to be audited.She said, “Well, I do have one flight I can get you on today.” I said, “Fine, when does it leave?”When she said, “11:55,” I looked at my watch. It was 10:25 a.m. That didn’t sound bad at all. Then she added, “p.m.”Now, while I’d rather spend hours waiting in an airport than, say, waiting to see a doctor, or sitting through a boring Sunday church service (pretty much how I spent my childhood), 13-1/2 hours is a long time to spend sitting in a chair waiting to sit in another (and more uncomfortable) chair on a cross-country flight. By 11:55 that evening, I was ready to just plop down into my seat and go to sleep. But when we finally boarded the plane, two women several rows in front of me got into an argument. The disagreement escalated, and they got louder and louder. I couldn’t make out everything, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t calling each other “witch.” The flight attendant came out first, then left and returned with a pilot, who tried to reason with the women. At this point I am seriously tired. And while I would like to say that I had empathy for the two women, whom I’m sure were tired too, my first reaction was to encourage the flight attendant to stuff them both in the overhead bin. But a nice woman intervened, switched seats with one of the warriors, and we got under way.These women were lucky. Until recently, I wasn’t aware of the strict rules pertaining to airlines and bad behavior. Flight crews have a lot of discretion, and they can have you arrested and thrown in jail if you act too rowdy. A couple of months ago, a flight attendant told me about two guys who got into a fight on a plane coming back into the country. Apparently the altercation was so bad the pilot diverted the flight and landed in the Bahamas where the combatants were met by the police. Can you imagine making this call to your wife? “Uhhh, yeah, honey — a little change of plan. Instead of meeting me at Bob Hope, could you fly down to Nassau with around $25,000 and bail me out of this Bahamian prison?”On the other hand, it’s still probably better than LAX.
By Logan Hall
The Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) — more specifically in the Ojai Valley — lost an estimated 250 years of experience as some of its top personnel retired this year. Six firefighters from different departments in the valley, several of whom graduated from Nordhoff High School, are moving into the relative calm and quiet of civilian life.VCFD Fire Chief Bob Roper says they are leaving behind a tradition of service to the citizens of the county, but as they’re parting ways with the department, new faces are arriving to fill their shoes. “They’re all a great group of individuals,” he said. “We’re losing a lot of experience, but as those guys walk out the door, a new academy is starting. Their replacements will carry on the legacy of good customer service.”The OVN attended the retirement party for Dale Cundiff, former captain of Station 21 in Ojai, and Glenn Renner, who retired from his duties at Station 20 in Upper Ojai, and got a chance to speak to some of the men who have dedicated so much of their lives to their communities. “There’s no big gap in experience,” said Cundiff, reiterating Roper’s thought that the department is left in good hands. “The kids are learning as they come up. We keep moving forward and the process continues.”Cundiff, like many of his peers, has served Ventura County — mostly in areas of the Ojai Valley — for most of his life. In that time, he raised a family, having three children, and now, three grandchildren. His two sons, Clayton and Matt, are twins who have followed their dad’s footsteps, and are both firefighters with the VCFD. “We kind of always grew up in a Fire Department family,” said Clayton, who is a truck engineer with Station 54 in Camarillo. “We’re third-generation firefighters. We spent a lot of Christmases and birthdays at the fire station, so we were super blessed to be hired in the county where we grew up.”When speaking to career firefighters, a sense of dedication and pride in their peers always seems to be at the forefront. “When someone like Glenn leaves there’s a void,” said Capt. Richard Toukdarian of Station 20 about Renner’s retirement. “He’s a great role model for anyone coming on to learn the business.”For people like the Cundiffs, taking care of their community appears to far exceed any personal gain, monetary or otherwise. “My passion was always in service to the community,” said Cundiff. “A lot of times I knew the people we were working on. It’s a huge emotional commitment, but it’s what we need to do.”Cundiff says he is looking forward to spending some time at home and enjoying a quiet retirement, but in true VCFD form, he will also be volunteering in the community to continue his years of service to the people.Along with Cundiff and Renner, recent retirees include Mike Middough and Rick Lajoie of Ojai Station 21, Wayne Maynard of Oak View Station 23 and Kerry Ellison of Meiners Oaks Station 22.
Runner, model Ryan Cowles ‘really an optimist’ despite disorder
By Chris T. Wilson
It’s been a tough year for Nordhoff High School senior Ryan Cowles, but this cross country star isn’t running from his problems.In fact, despite sometimes debilitating seizures, Cowles has been awarded the title, Mr. NHS, in a brand-new pageant held recently at the local high school.”I found out that I had been nominated just before winter break,” Cowles said. “I was kinda’ surprised, it’s usually just the football players that get nominated for that kind of stuff.”For the past year, Cowles has been suffering from mysterious anxiety-related seizures that have disrupted his academic and cross country activities.”It started my junior year,” Cowles said. “It came on randomly while I was running cross country. I had a grand mal seizure. So I started going to doctors constantly but they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, so I went to UCLA Medical Center and after three days of tests they determined it was non-epileptic.”Cowles said he thinks the stress and anxiety that cause the seizures are probably from cross country competition and maintaining his honor roll status and the rigors of advanced placement course work. And he’s relieved to know that his uncle, who had similar seizures when he was in his late teens, recovered and stopped having the seizures after he turned 20.”I can’t wait to get a little older,” Cowles said.But when he gets on stage in front of hundreds of people, he feels relaxed, at ease and right at home.It’s possible that this is because, since age 9, Cowles said, he’s been modeling, acting in commercials and on television.”I was on the soap opera ‘Passions,’ I modeled for J.C. Penney and other clothing lines and I modeled a lot for Disney,” he said. “I joined Ford Models. I just looked young and they used me a lot.”So, while, the humble high school senior may have been surprised to be nominated for Mr. NHS with a handful of other boys, his experiences in the entertainment and modeling industry may have been the leg up he needed to pull off the win.The Mr. NHS Pageant consisted of three elements, Cowles said. There was an evening wear fashion portion, a talent portion and an interview.”I tried to keep it funny,” he said. “When assistant principal Greg Bayless asked me what I would do if I was given a lot of money, I gave the most typical answer I could think of. I said I’d give it all away for world peace.”During the fashion competition he and friend Clarabelle Balderas dressed in tight shirts, strutted on stage and struck poses.But it was likely the talent portion of the competition that put him over the top. Cowles and friend Sharae Sharp choreographed a dance routine that drew loud cheers and applause from their high school peers.”We got together and just decided to do a cool dance,” he said. “She’s really good at choreography, so we selected some music, thought of some good moves and put it together. We did it all pretty quickly.”Now Cowles enjoys it when his fellow students recognize him as Mr. NHS and he’s happy that after a little over a year of taking medications with debilitating side effects, he’s been able to bring his seizures more under control with yoga, breathing techniques, therapy and running.”I’ve been off all meds since December,” he said. “I really am an optimist with it though. I have a good attitude, I know it will be over soon. I try not to take it that seriously. I’m just keeping strong until it goes away.”
Commentary by Lenny Roberts
Enough is enough. “Reporters” hiding in the bushes and jumping fences, and three helicopters circling Foothill Road most of the day must be annoying not only for the bride, groom and guests, but for all of Ojai as well. Our community is known for not harassing its celebrities. Apparently Hollywood does not respect that. This has turned into a circus by thoughtless members of the press. Is this really that important and necessary?
By Misty Volaski
On Sunday from 3 to 9 p.m., The Village Jester owner Nigel Chisholm is fusing two of Ojai’s favorite things — live music and fundraisers — to benefit the victims of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear devastation in Japan.Dubbed “Ojai Aid: From the Valley of the Moon to the Land of the Rising Sun,” the event will be held at the Jester, 139 E. Ojai Ave., and will feature live music performed by a number of local musicians. Once mixed and produced, the music will be available for $10 at Ojaiaid.org. “The tragedy in Japan hit home very hard for me because I lived there for a long time,” said Chisholm. “My children were born there in a Japanese National Health hospital. Over the years, the kindness and generosity shown to me and my family was overwhelming. Everything I have is due to Japan. I owe Japan. It’s time to pay.”Chisholm has confirmed the following musicians for the event: Jackie Lomax, Julie Christensen, Jessie Siebenberg, B. Willing James, Lenny Kerley, Brian Batchley, Kyle Hunt, The Shoemaker Brothers, Omar Velasco and Dan Grimm. These artists will record a handful of live tracks on Sunday, then come together to perform the song, “Prayer for You,” written by Siebenberg. More performers are expected to be added to the lineup. The entire event will be professionally recorded, videotaped and photographed, and will then be offered for sale and download at ojaiaid.org. Donations received during the event and from ensuing music sales will go to Direct Relief International (DRI), a nonprofit headquartered in Santa Barbara. One hundred percent of the contributions will go straight to Japan. A four-star rated charity, Direct Relief International has worked since 1948 to improve the quality of life for people in need with a focus on health — by providing essential material resources to locally run health programs in poor areas around the world and during times of disaster.Visit directrelief.org for more information about the organization.There is no cover charge for Sunday’s event and reservations are not required. The Jester’s usual menu and full bar will be available for purchase. For more information about this event, visit ojaiaid.org or thevillagejester.com.
Consumer groups throw support behind AB-753
By Misty Volaski
Ojai mom Cally Houck, California Assemblyman William Monning and several consumer advocates teamed up Wednesday morning in Sacramento to present AB-753, a new bill which would prohibit rental car companies from “renting out vehicles that are subject to a federal safety recall, once they have received notice from the manufacturer that the vehicle is being recalled, until the vehicle is fixed.”"The response was overwhelmingly, ‘You mean there isn’t already a law for this?’” Houck said. “A lot of people just assume there is.”For Houck, the bill couldn’t be more personal. Her two daughters, Nordhoff students Jacqueline and Raechel Houck, were killed in 2004 when they lost control of their rented PT Cruiser and slammed head-on into an oncoming 18-wheeler. When the family discovered that the 2004 Chrysler vehicle had been recalled due to defects that could cause the loss of power steering as well as under-hood fires — and that Enterprise Rent-A-Car knew about the recall but failed to make repairs — the Houck family sued the multi-billion dollar rental company. It took five years, but an Alameda County court awarded the Houcks $15 million for the wrongful and unreasonable deaths of the two girls.That judgment, however, was only the beginning of Cally Houck’s crusade. She is now campaigning to institute laws (both state and federal) preventing “the sort of tragedy that took my daughters’ lives. No other family should have to endure the heartbreaking loss of loved ones because of an unsafe rental car,” said Houck. She was joined in Sacramento by Assemblymember Monning of the 27th District, Ben Kelley of the Center for Auto Safety, Elisa Odabashian, director of the West Coast Office of the Consumers Union, and Rosemary Shahan, president of the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. The bill is to be dubbed The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Rental Car Safety Act.“AB-753 is needed to ensure that the Houck tragedy does not happen again. A consumer should be able to rent a car without worrying about safety issues that should have already been fixed,” stated Monning in a press release. “While some rental car companies have changed their policies as a result of this case, legislation is still necessary to ensure that all rental car companies operate under the same rules.”Existing federal and state laws leave loopholes allowing rental car companies to rent out cars that are being recalled due to safety defects, or that fail to comply with federal safety standards. Federal law already prohibits auto dealers from selling new cars that are being recalled — but these same rules do not apply to rental car companies. Indeed, the laws treat the rental car companies more like individual consumers (who aren’t legally required to seek repairs should their vehicles be recalled) rather than large corporations.“Every day consumers rent cars with the expectation that the vehicles have been fully inspected for safety,” stated Odabashian in the release. “Finding that this is not the case and that rental car companies knowingly put individuals and families at potentially lethal risk by renting cars subject to safety recalls, is unconscionable. If consumers knew that rental car companies were playing Russian roulette with their lives, they may think twice about renting cars in the future.”Houck and Shahan of C.A.R.S. said they felt the bill was well-received in the California Assembly, and both “felt good” about AB-753′s passage there. The California Senate, however, is where they’ll have their work cut out for them. “The Senate is concerned with jobs and business,” Houck explained. However, “Cally is a force to be reckoned with,” said Shahan, “and Assemblymember Monning is a great author, very smart — he knows how to get the ball down the field. But we’re up against a very powerful lobby. They’re going to fight this every step of the way.”A federal bill is also being worked on, with support from New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer.For more information on push for rental car industry reform, visit carconsumers.org or autosafety.org. There is also a Facebook group called “Boycott Enterprise Rent-A-Car.”
By Lenny Roberts
Craig Steven Anderson, who will turn 22 on May 7, is scheduled to be sentenced three days later in Ventura County Superior Court after admitting his guilt last week in the May 2010 death of an Ojai teenager.According to court records, Anderson was found guilty of being under the influence of and possessing a controlled substance. Then, at an early disposition conference before Judge Edward F. Brodie on March 17, Anderson avoided a jury trial by pleading guilty to the more serious charge of selling or furnishing the deadly drug to a minor.The victim, 15-year-old Patrick O’Brien, was found dead in the family home May 22 from a heroin overdose, according to Ventura County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit Sgt. Joe Evans. Anderson was arrested on suspicion of the offense on Oct. 27 after detectives from the Sheriff’s Major Crimes and Narcotics units and deputies from the Ojai Valley Sheriff’s substation conducted an investigation into his death. During the four-month investigation, numerous witnesses were interviewed and detectives conducted extensive surveillance within the Ojai Valley and the city of Ventura. Anderson remains in custody at the main jail in Ventura with bail set at $95,000.
By Logan Hall
Last year the city of Ojai and many of its citizens jumped on board the Libbey Bowl campaign with both feet. At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, council members were scrambling to find the answers to many variables that are surfacing as the project nears completion.
“We’re facing many unknowns,” said Councilwoman Betsy Clapp. “I can’t agree to proceed in the direction we are going.”
Ojai’s interim Public Works director Ron Calkins seemed to sum up the city’s precarious position in dealing with Libbey Bowl management decisions and start-up costs. “I don’t have good news there,” he said at the meeting about the budget for the new bowl before adding, “That’s a real challenge.”
Although the city has shown that collection of pledges for the bowl are ahead of schedule, and though Calkins believes construction will be completed on time, funding for the bowl’s start-up costs have yet to be allocated. So far, the city hasn’t determined the amount of such costs. The city is expecting to share those costs with the Ojai Service Foundation, which will be playing a major role in future decisions on the bowl. All start-up costs are expected to be paid back through ticket sales over subsequent seasons.
According to a staff report prepared by city manager Rob Clark, the city set aside a contingency fund equaling $262,000 for additional expenses above the original construction cost. The report shows that out of that fund- only $21,800 is left.
Calkins reiterated the bleak outlook of the project’s funding, stating the project is 80 percent complete, but the “contingency is already used up.” This could potentially leave the reserve in a $10,000 deficit according to city reports. Clark said that the city will need to take out or increase a line of credit to pay for start-up costs to prepare for a 2011 season at the bowl, but as property taxes come in at the end of the year, the city will be able to pay off that balance.
Costs would include marketing, hiring an “outsourced” executive producer, and other operating expenses. The decisions about management will have to be made soon if there is to be a 2011 season. Time is quickly running out for the council to act.
While Clark says the various costs and potential credit associated will balance out when property taxes come in, so far, there has not been a contract drafted with the Service Foundation and some City Council members seemed to hesitate.
“How are they going to (hire) someone by the end of the month if there is no contract?”
Mayor Carol Smith stated her displeasure in the city’s potential need for credit. “I’m not happy about extending the line of credit,” she said.
Smith did express confidence in the project, however. “People have stepped up to the plate left and right for this,” she said. “I think at this point, the leap of faith needs to continue.”
By Bill Buchanan
As I write this, we are in what amounts to war with Libya. But we don’t call it that. When we invade another country, we call it a “police action” or “liberation” or use some other lame euphemism. But if a foreign nation parked a submarine off the coast of California and fired a few hundred missiles into Los Angeles, you can bet we would call it something other than “enforcing a no-fly zone.” Why are we doing this? In a word, oil. While it is extremely upsetting to see the reports of Moammar Gadhafi killing his own people, let’s be serious about why we are attacking Libya. We are there to protect oil production. Anyone who says we are there to protect “human rights” is kidding themselves. If we were genuinely interested in protecting human rights, we would have sent troops into places like Darfur or other war-torn African nations where tens of thousands more people have been killed than in Libya’s recent uprising. But the reality is that if 100,000 innocents are murdered in Darfur, gas prices don’t go up 20 percent.Don’t get me wrong. I am not for the United States trying to be the world’s policeman. We do more than enough of that already. And if we are forced to risk American lives, then we certainly need to have our self-interests foremost. And, if told I had to fire missiles at someone, I would be hard pressed to find a more worthy target than Gadhafi. This is the man who, according to reliable sources, was the driving force behind the Lockerbie bombing, the terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103 that killed 270 people.But why, why, why have we not yet weaned ourselves from our dependency on foreign oil? We faced the Arab oil embargo in 1973. Arab nations cut back heavily on production and almost brought this country to its knees. Those of us who were alive then remember how gas shortages abounded. Fuel prices shot up. Many gas stations were closed on Sundays. Lines to fill up gas tanks stretched forever, and some stations ran out of gas completely.Almost 40 years later this country still does not have a comprehensive national energy policy. That is a disgrace and it constitutes a national failure on the part of every administration from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama. Both sides of the aisle are culpable on this one. For instance, “An Inconvenient Truth” allowed Al Gore to garner an Academy Award by preaching about the environment — but only after he left office. The inconvenient truth is that he did little when he was vice president to lead the country to other forms of energy, lessening our dependence upon foreign oil. In 1977, in response to the oil crisis, President Jimmy Carter and Congress rammed through legislation to create the Department of Energy. The main goal of that government entity was to lower our country’s dependence on foreign oil. In another testament to monumental bureaucratic incompetence, the Department of Energy today has thousands of employees and an annual budget of just under $30 billion. Yet we are more dependent upon foreign oil percentage-wise than we were in 1977. As economist Milton Friedman once said, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.”Energy solutions require tough choices. For instance, the catastrophic problems in Japan have made almost everyone rethink the use of nuclear power. But some things need to be explained to me. We have an abundance of natural gas. Why isn’t every municipal and school bus in this country converted to run on natural gas? Why have we wasted so much time before developing wind and solar power where feasible? If we had the technological expertise to put someone on the moon in 1969, why has it taken so long to develop electric automobiles? The thought of so many young soldiers losing their lives over oil is repugnant. Some of their blood is on the hands of every administration, congressional delegation, and obstructive private company that has failed to make the United States less dependent upon foreign oil.
By Logan Hall
Leslie Farkas and his family escaped death on Sunday morning — twice. As a fire was breaking out in the attic of their home on the 200 block of Arnaz Avenue, the family fled the house after they smelled smoke and saw sparks beginning to flare up. But before Farkas, his wife and 11-year-old son could reach safety, a large oak tree fell just feet from the fleeing family.”I was trying to get my wife and son out of the yard when the tree started coming down,” Farkas told the OVN. “I started screaming at them to get out of the way. It was crazy.”Farkas had first noticed trouble earlier in the morning when a neighbor knocked on their door, saying he saw sparks coming from the house where a tree branch was leaning on a “service drop” power line. The Ventura County Fire Department was dispatched to the home at 10:09 a.m. after a 911 call was placed. According to Mike LaPlant, VCFD chief of operations, Fire Engine 121 and its crew from Station 21 in Ojai arrived on scene just three minutes later. VCFD reports indicate that the crew remained on scene for about 15 minutes to assess the situation. Farkas and a neighborhood resident who preferred to remain anonymous stated that the Fire Department left after telling Farkas that Southern California Edison Company would have to deal with the affected power lines. While Farkas and his neighbor think the department may have made a hasty decision to leave the scene, the VCFD says there was a good reason behind everything, and fire crews would never leave if they perceived the situation was imminently dangerous.”It was a very busy time and engines were dispatched all over the valley for different calls,” said LaPlant. “They (fire crew) carefully observed the situation to see if there was anything extraordinarily hazardous, but they didn’t witness any smoke or sparks and found nothing that gave them immediate concern.” LaPlant said that with all of the calls being received from around the valley, the fire crew that had arrived on Arnaz needed to make themselves available as soon as possible to respond to the growing number of calls, but had made sure that Edison was on its way before leaving the scene. VCFD reports show that four minutes after Engine 121 cleared the scene, a second call came in from the residence that reported a fire was breaking out. According to VCFD spokesman Ron Oatman, the fire quickly engulfed the attic of the home. Fire engines from around Ventura County including Station 22 in Meiners Oaks, Station 23 in Oak View, Station 20 in Upper Ojai, Rincon Station 25, Ventura Engines 1 and 2, and support units from Santa Paula, began to show up as the situation grew worse. Firefighters immediately began the arduous task of controlling the flames. “We started making an aggressive attack on the fire from the interior of the home,” said Oatman. “The majority of the fire was confined to the attic though.”The fire was under control at round 12:15 p.m. and was out at about 1:40 p.m., although units stayed on scene to “mop up” until about 2:30 p.m.Farkas, who was renting the home, with help from neighbors and friends was busy through Monday trying to salvage what was left of the family’s belongings. “The whole thing was surreal,” he said between trips into the charred remains of his home, “but it could have been worse.”
By Logan Hall
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Aviation Unit as well as Search and Rescue (SAR) teams located and rescued more than 30 people from areas in Los Padres National Forest in the mountains above Ojai on Sunday and Monday. Members from the Los Padres Sierra Club as well as two other unrelated hiking groups were lifted to safety by sheriff’s helicopters after being stranded due to rising levels at water crossings. Four Sierra Club hikers also reached safety thanks to SAR ground crews. According to Aviation Unit Capt. Dave Kenney, at about 4:45 p.m. the Sheriff’s Department began receiving calls of overdue hikers in the backcountry above Ojai near Rose Valley. With limited information about the location of the missing group, SAR teams and an air unit helicopter were deployed to the area to begin the search. However, due to severe weather conditions, rescue crews were forced to suspend the search until the next morning.”I’ve seen a lot in my 28 years of flying,” said pilot Ken Williams who flew the trademark blue and yellow, UH-1 “Huey” helicopter in the rescue mission. “The winds were absolutely horrendous on Sunday. It was snowing, the visibility was bad, and we were under night vision goggles for the mission. The weather was just too crazy.”Kenney stated in a press release that shortly after crews decided to suspend the search, the Ojai SAR team, led by Bill Slaughter, noticed lights on a nearby ridge and believed they were associated with the missing hikers. Kenney reports that at around 11 p.m. on Sunday, SAR made contact with four of the hikers from the Sierra Club, and using safety lines, helped the stranded people cross swollen creeks, eventually getting them to safety. The four were suffering from exposure to the elements and were transported by ambulance to area hospitals where one member received treatment for minor injuries.Annette Klaus, Sierra Club member who was with the group of four victims rescued by SAR, says her ordeal was an eye-opener. “It started getting really windy and rainy Saturday night,” she said in a phone interview. “Originally, we just kind of wanted to wait it out, but it didn’t seem like it would let up so we left our gear behind and left camp.”Klaus described the aftermath of her tribulation and what the group’s rescue meant to her and her comrades. “I still have numb fingers and toes,” she said, “but I’m alive and I’m very grateful for that. I can’t say enough about the rescue efforts. I really praise those guys. They are the most awesome people in the world.”On Monday morning, Williams and his team, Crew Chief Don White, rescue specialist Shane Matthews and paramedic Nick Cleary took off at 6:45 a.m. from Camarillo Airport to continue the search. After checking the area, they found a second group of nine people from the Sierra Club, and were able to land near the hikers, subsequently transporting them in groups of three to safety about a mile away.Continuing the search, the helicopter’s crew then located the final Sierra Club group consisting of six individuals. Williams was unable to find a safe spot to land the helicopter and the crew had to perform 100-foot hoist rescues on the remaining hikers.”It’s not very common to have to hoist a group of six,” said Cleary who was operating the helicopter’s hoist system, bringing up each victim in separate evolutions. “You really have to make sure everything is secure. It’s so important to have constant communication. For machine and crew to work as one, that’s how it’s gotta’ be.”A second helicopter, piloted by Jim Dalton with Crew Chief Steve Hanie, Fire Capt. Gary Monday and SAR paramedic Scott Bernard, was also dispatched to the area to aid in the rescues. Working tirelessly, the aviation unit and SAR teams located and rescued all of the missing hikers without any major incident.”We had a very busy night to say the least,” said Williams, “but all were successfully rescued. It was a great outcome for everybody.”
Submitted by Ray Smith
KI6VED, Ojai Valley Amateur Radio Club
This weekend, 120 runners from around the world gathered in Ojai for the annual Coyote 2-moon ultramarathon event. But threatening weather intervened, and a ham radio crew keeping track of their progress was stranded overnight in gale force winds, sleet, and snow.
In the C2M event, runners leave from The Thacher School and run up to 100 miles back and forth along the Nordhoff ridgeline, continuously, for two days. Sixty staff members assist by setting up and manning aid tents. Twenty-two Ventura County ‘hams,” or amateur radio operators, assisted by setting up remote stations at intervals along the route. They clock the runners in and out, and radio their arrival and departure times to the starting line, so that none of the runners are left behind.
Late Saturday night, the race was called off by director Chris Scott because of the sudden, severe inclement weather. It included horizontal blowing sleet, and gale force winds. Competitors were advised to get down from the Nordhoff Ridgeline to safety as quickly as possible.
One amateur station at Cozy Dell was blown over and put out of action. Two other radio relay stations, designated Ridge and Gridley Top, elected to remain overnight, hoping to drive back down in daylight. The Ridge crew arrived safely, bringing two stranded runners with them. However, when the Gridley contingent arose at dawn, they found that over a foot of accumulated snow and continuing severe wind made that impossible.
Lacking supplies for an extended stay, they decided at 9 AM to abandon their cars and walk six miles down the muddy, treacherous Gridley trail, picking their way over newly-formed waterfalls and streams across the path. Another crew of five hams hiked up the 6-mile trail to meet and assist them through their ordeal. All arrived safely after four more hours in the cold rain. All hams and runners were accounted for.
By Bill Buchanan
Several members of the community shared their thoughts and concerns regarding a proposed ordinance before the Ojai City Council that, if passed, would change building codes for the city. Many of the changes to the code center on new requirements for construction, inspection and permits. The new regulations would also broaden the power of the building official who inspects construction.A packed gallery met with council members, staff and consultants at City Hall during Tuesday night’s Ojai Building Code Workshop. The meeting sparked plenty of public interest with 15 people requesting to give their opinions and ask questions. Among those on hand to meet with the public were city manager Rob Clark; city attorney Monte Widders; building official Brian Meadows; Steve Stuart, president of Stuart Consulting Services; and Councilors Betsy Clapp, Carlon Strobel and Paul Blatz. The stated purpose of the workshop was to share information and hear concerns about the proposed building code changes, which was introduced at the Feb. 22 council meeting. The meeting opened with a presentation by the consulting firm the city has hired to advise the council on code updates. Stuart outlined general information about the changes to the building code. He said the state of California updates its building code every three years, with the latest update coming in 2010. He added that the city cannot make broad changes to the state code, and any changes would have to fall under climatic, geographic and/or topographic conditions. But the city does have control over several local provisions.After the presentation, questions and comments were solicited from the audience. Several in attendance, including local insurance agent Bob Daddi and local hotel owner and businessman Geoff Wells, expressed their disapproval that the information packet made available to the public and city officials did not contain a “red-lined” version of the old code outlining the proposed changes so they could more easily be compared with the new ordinance. Stuart explained that a majority of the changes are new, making it difficult to have a side-by-side comparison document. Councilman Blatz and Councilwoman Clapp joined in the request for some type of document outlining the specific changes proposed in the new code in order to spell out how they differ from the old code. Stuart agreed to prepare such a document.Most other comments from the public centered around four basic issues: the permitting process; compliance and enforcement of building codes; the appeals process; and added safety precautions.The permitting processLocal Realtor Larry Wilde commented on the present difficulty in obtaining a building permit, and his concern that new regulations might serve to increase this even more. He stated, “We can’t turn into ‘Little Santa Monica-Moscow.’ It is most challenging to get a permit. It is a horrible, horrible process. Don’t make the applicant go through several sessions with the Planning Commission.” Daddi agreed with Wilde, adding, “The rules are tough to follow, and they are not user friendly.” Daddi added his concern for the cost of the fees for permits. “We are sick and tired of opening pocketbooks. Tell us what the fees are going to be.” Daddi related a story about retired local insurance agent, Boyd Ford, who recently paid out $6,000 in local fees to build a 640-square-foot addition to his present home. Compliance and enforcementTeresa Rooney, another local real estate agent, spoke concerning code implementation. “We are stepping on the need for housing with mandates. How do you address properties that are not already in compliance? Will they have to be brought up to code?” asked Rooney. The answer given was that current codes allow for houses in existence for many years to have old construction “grandfathered” in. Non-compliance is an issue when recent or new construction is knowingly performed by the owner without proper permits, or does not meet existing code. If discovered, the homeowner could be made liable for bringing that construction up to code. The city building official can put a notice on a property title if it is found to be in non-compliance with city codes if the owner knows substandard conditions exist, or if new construction was performed without applying for the proper permits. However, in the case of a homeowner who discovers non-permitted work was done by a previous owner, it was unclear as to whether that owner would be cited for non-compliance. Councilman Blatz said the policy set into place should not be arbitrary, and added, “I cannot imagine putting a notice on a homeowner doing an upgrade and discovering non-permitted work (by a previous owner).” Councilwoman Clapp added that regulations needed to be addressed in a “fair and reasonable manner.” She continued, “We don’t need layers and layers of fees to encourage people to pirate.”The appeals processLocal contractor Heidi Whitman expressed her concerns by relating a personal story of a situation where the building inspector determined her home was in non-compliance, but turned out to be mistaken. She said fighting to overturn the decision was a very lengthy and involved process. Whitman said she felt citizens should be protected with a system of checks and balances along with a reasonable appeal provision. She added, “It is wrong for one person to file notices without due process.” Whitman’s husband, Andy, voiced his apprehension over any expansion of the building official’s power. He said he had a problem with “placing a cloud on that person’s (the homeowner’s) title by someone with no professional license.” He added that there was no oversight on tagging notices, and that he felt “processes are applied arbitrarily.”Another question concerning the appeal process surfaced when it was pointed out that the language in the ordinance appeared to state that the decision of the board of appeals would be final. City attorney Widders said this was not the case, that any decision could be appealed to the council for a final ruling.Councilwoman Strobel noted that the regulations required anyone seeking an appeal to the council to overturn a denial of their claim was allowed only seven days to file that appeal. She pointed out that if the denial came on a Thursday, followed by a Monday holiday, that with city offices being closed on Fridays, a citizen would have only a two-day window in which to file the appeal. Strobel also asked if the proposed ordinance granted greater powers to the building inspector than the present code. She was told that would indeed be the case. Added safety precautionsDaddi said he would like to see some additional safety precautions added to local codes, especially with regards to heat detectors required for garages and attics with masonry chimneys. Daddi said that two local home fires could possibly have been prevented, or at least the damage greatly limited, by the addition of such heat detectors. Stuart said he thought those were good ideas, and had no objections to them. He added that he thought it was good, though, to try to remain consistent with regulations to accommodate out-of-town contractors who came into Ojai to perform work. Daddi countered, “I don’t think our codes should look like others. We need different codes since we are in a High Fire Hazard Severity Zone.” Councilwoman Clapp ended the meeting thanking those in attendance for raising some excellent points. The council will schedule a second reading of the ordinance, and will decide whether or not to adopt the measure, or table for additional discussion.
Vaccines could have prevented cat deaths
By Misty Volaski
If there is a lesson to be learned from the recent euthanization of all 14 cats at the Humane Society of Ventura County, it is this: vaccinating your pets is vital, both for their well-being and for all pets in the valley. Annual vaccinations for cats costs as little as $35 a year. But all too often, owners do not take that simple step to help prevent such a tragedy as what happened at Ojai’s Humane Society.On March 11, shelter director Jolene Hoffman was forced to make the heart-breaking decision to put down the Ojai shelter’s cat population, in an effort to end their suffering and avoid spreading their highly contagious respiratory virus to other cats in the community.”When you saw the condition the cats were in — their behaviors, blowing snot, they couldn’t breathe or eat — we knew this was a bad, bad virus,” Hoffman said. “When you see a cat healthy one day and almost dying the next, that’s pretty bad.” The respiratory virus left the cats lying limp at the bottom of their cages, she added, unable to eat, drink, move or breathe easily. And it kept spreading, she said, infecting more and more of the cats.Humane Society veterinarian Dr. Curtis Lewis told the OVN in a Thursday e-mail that: “Respiratory disease in cats is very common at shelters with high cat populations. These infections are generally caused by several viruses often in combination with one another which increases the severity of the disease. Common antibiotics,” he continued, “have no effect on these viruses, and “are only effective against secondary bacterial infections.”Respiratory viruses can be spread through direct contact but are also airborne, meaning any cat who came into the Humane Society — whether for a spay or neuter procedure, or as a stray, for example — could have been exposed to the virus. While it spreads only from cat to cat and cannot be passed to humans or other animals, it is a devastating virus that can be fatal at worst and a lifelong problemat best (which can flare up during times of stress).This, combined with the cats’ great suffering, prompted Hoffman to act as she did. The Humane Society is technically a “no-kill” shelter, which means they will house an animal until it finds a home, but it does not mean they will allow an animal to suffer inhumanely for an extended period of time.Hoffman said she knew the difficult decision might anger some people in the community. “Well, you know what, we’re angry too. I’m very angry. We loved them all so much.” Pausing, with a deep, shuddering breath, Hoffman continued, “I can’t tell you how hard this is for our staff. The condition of the cats was just so bad, and we’re not going to let an animal suffer like that. When you see that kind of suffering you have to make a decision. So what do we do? We were faced with a damned situation — we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. It didn’t have to happen if people would have vaccinated their animals.”Lending further support to Hoffman’s decision was Dr. Lewis’ assertion that: “The primary and accepted way to stop the spread of RTI (respiratory tract infection) is to depopulate and disinfect the premises. Most shelters use this approach, otherwise the infection will go on in perpetuity.”Hoffman said the shelter had closed the cat haven March 7 due to the highly contagious nature of the virus. The cat haven will remain closed for the next two weeks while her staff does intense sterilization of the facility to ensure no traces of the virus are left in the shelter. “We’re cleaning with two different types of cleaners, one this week and the other one next week. We’ve pulled everything out (of the cat haven). We’re scrubbing everything, the walls, the cages, the ceilings, everything, every day, over and over.”After it is thoroughly sterilized, Hoffman added, the Humane Society will reopen the cat haven, but will only accept cats from owners whose cats have had vaccinations within two weeks of dropping them off. “We don’t have much choice,” she said. “We can’t have this happen again.”But while the euthanization of Ojai’s 14 cats is tragic, it is the unfortunate status quo for many shelters. From July 2009 to June 2010, the Ventura County Animal Regulation shelter in Camarillo reported a total of 3,426 cats brought in. Of these, 2,183 were destroyed.But even that dismal number has been decreasing over the years. From 1975 to 1985, 94.8 percent of cats (and 70.4 percent of dogs) brought to Ventura County Animal Regulation were destroyed. That number dropped to 63.4 percent for cats and 29.6 percent for dogs in the¬2009-2010 fiscal year.According to the Ventura County Animal Regulation website, “We still have a long way to go if we are ever to achieve our goal of no unnecessary animal deaths. In order to attain that goal we must rely on the people of Ventura County to become responsible animal caretakers, to realize that the adoption of an animal is a commitment for the life of that animal and that living animals, unlike chia pets, are not disposable.”Dr. Lewis comes to the Ojai Humane Society on the first and third Saturday of every month to host low-cost vaccination clinics. Cats can get a four-in-one plus leukemia vaccination for $25, and add the rabies vaccination for $10 more. Dogs can get a distemper-parvo-coronavirus vaccination for $20, rabies for $10 more, and a bordetella (if needed) for $15. No appointment is necessary, but the clinic runs on a cash-only basis.The Humane Society of Ventura County is located at 402 Bryant St, in Ojai.Unlike VCAR, the Humane Society is not government-funded and relies solely on donations from the public. Donations and volunteers are gratefully welcomed; call 646-6505, visit humanesocietyvc.org, or stop in at the shelter for more information.
By Bill Buchanan
Admitting you are the victim of bullying is a very difficult thing to do. I was bullied as a kid in junior high school. I have a hard time talking about it even now.
Estimates vary widely, but recent ones reveal that nearly one-third of all school-aged children are bullied each year. That is about 13 million kids. To say this is an epidemic is like saying that current gas prices seem a little on the high side.
A few days ago, President and Mrs. Obama held a White House Conference on Bullying Prevention. The president admitted that he had some experience with being a target of bullies. “I have to say, with big ears and the name that I have, I wasn’t immune,” said Obama.
I applaud President and Mrs. Obama for addressing this delicate and pervasive subject. However, sharing a personal example or two, and some advice on how he handled it, would have been a lot more helpful than his understated comment of “I didn’t emerge unscathed.” In my own case, it made my life miserable. For me to say “I didn’t emerge unscathed” would be like Gen. George Custer saying, “We encountered a few Indians today.”
My daddy died when I was 10 years old. I looked up to him as mentor, disciplinarian, and role model. His death robbed me of my self-confidence, and violently shook the foundation of my insulated little world.
Perhaps sensing my vulnerability, a couple of older kids seized on this, and began bullying me. The punishment they dealt out was devastating. I was not beaten up, but I was taunted, teased and threatened. I was made to feel less than human. I dreaded going to school, to sporting events or to other social situations that would bring me in contact with these bullies.
Not only was I miserable, I was ashamed to share the truth with my mother, or anyone else in whom I had confidence. So I suffered alone.
But I was very fortunate. I developed friendships, one or two in particular, that elevated my self-esteem. I hit a growth spurt and lifted weights. I became strong enough and self-confident enough to fight back —- verbally, and physically if necessary. And so it ended.
But the emotional scars from being bullied stayed with me. Years later, I ran into one of my former tormentors in a bar, pulled him aside, and physically threatened him. He was shocked, and had no idea why I was so upset. But what he had done to me was still fresh on my mind several years after it took place.
Many victims are not as fortunate as I was. Once thought of as a male-only problem, bullying is shared by both sexes. Girls are as vicious as boys. Technology and social networking sites have expanded the problem in the form of “cyber-bullying.” Some kids use computers and cell phones to harass other children 24/7, so that the bullying follows the victim home. There is no escape, no safe haven. Some victims have committed suicide to end their suffering.
Bullying has adverse effects upon all involved — the victims, the bullies and even those who are witnesses. Studies show that bullies have a higher risk of abusing alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and adults. They are more likely to get into fights, vandalize property and drop out of school. They are more likely to be abusive toward partners, spouses and children as adults. Students who are bullied are more likely to have challenges in school, to abuse drugs and alcohol, and to have physical and mental health issues. Kids who witness bullying are more likely to have depression and anxiety than other students. Almost no one escapes untouched.
Many have taken aim at the problem. In addition to the initiative announced by the government, there are several organizations who offer advice and programs. These include The National Education Association (NEA); the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA); the American Federation of Teachers (AFT); and the National School Boards Association (NSBA). Facebook, a chief conduit for cyber-bullying, has developed a reporting system for online problems.
The government has an excellent website, stopbullying.gov, which offers tips, resources, links and videos. It offers warning signs to spot those who might be bullies, and those who might be victims.
This is all well and good. But the government, teachers and other groups cannot be expected to do the heavy-lifting to protect children. The problem will never be eradicated until family and friends get personally involved.
The tools to eliminate or at least strongly curb this insidious problem are out there. The question is; will the people who can best make a difference use them to do so?
Six California teams join in
search and recovery effort
By Logan Hall
As the death toll rises in Japan, a glimmer of hope arrived on the devastated shores of the island nation. Six search dog teams trained by the Ojai-based National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (NDSDF) were deployed to Ofunato City in Japan to help in trying to find survivors of the recent earthquake and tsunami, and the crisis that has followed.Seventy-two individuals, and six search dogs forming California Task Force 1 out of Los Angeles County, were sent to aid the Japanese government in rescue operations. To support the logistics of the effort, the U.S. Air Force flew in 45 tons of equipment for the strike team.Although halfway around the world, the crisis in Japan hit close to home for many people in the Ojai Valley. Fumie Chiang, who owns Giorgio’s Restaurant with her husband, Robert, has family in Tokyo, and a daughter who recently graduated from a performing arts school in southern Japan who still lives in the area. Chiang says that she has heard from all of her family and friends and so far everyone close to her is OK. Although they are safe, she says she is still worried about the people who have not been found, and she is very grateful that the NDSDF is helping her country. “I am so, so appreciative of them (NDSDF),” said an emotional Chiang. “All Japanese people are devastated by this, so I am so proud that Ojai is helping. I want to help too.” Chiang is not the only one in the valley affected by the crisis. Tracy Wilson, director of admissions and marketing for Ojai Valley School, told the OVN on Monday that although all of their Japanese students’ friends and family were accounted for, of the 73 Japanese alumni of the school, not all have responded back to attempts at reaching them. “When something like this happens,” said Wilson, “it totally affects us because we have those contacts.”As of print time, the foundation had not heard from the strike team if any survivors have been found, but Debra Tosch, NDSDF executive director and former search dog handler, says the teams will do whatever they can to help. “Those six handlers and the entire task force are giving it their all,” she said. “They know that time is of the essence, and are doing everything they can to cover as much of the area as possible. They’re working from sunup to sundown.”California Task Force One, and its NDSDF-trained teams, is one of only two international search dog teams — along with Virginia Task Force Two which is also deployed in Japan — in the United States. The California strike team has been overseas several times, aiding in searches like that in Haiti during the earthquake crisis there. “The dogs found three people alive and assisted in the rescue of nine others in Haiti,” said Wilma Melville, who founded the nonprofit NDSDF in 1996. “When they get back from their missions, we use the photos and information to influence the type of training we do in the future.”The job ahead of the teams could seem insurmountable to most people, but the task forces plod ahead and move forward until they complete their mission. “Being a former handler,” said Tosch, who helped in rescues at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, “I do know that as hard as they are working and as tired as they may get, every one of those handlers is honored to be there lending support to the citizens of Japan. They will be there as long as the Japanese government needs them there.”For information on volunteering at the NDSDF or to donate to the organization, log on to searchdogfoundation.org.
By Misty Volaski
Poor Nanuk has had a tough couple weeks. But, thankfully, his story ends in wagging tails and happy tears.When his people, the Bryant family of Ventura, faced unexpected hardship and had to move, they felt the best decision for their 6-month-old German shepherd-husky mix was to give him up for adoption. But on March 5, just one day after the family dropped him off at Ojai’s Humane Society of Ventura County, Nanuk was stolen from his shelter kennel.”A woman came in saying she wanted the dog,” said shelter director Jolene Hoffman. “She said, ‘I should’ve taken him in the parking lot!’ So she got an application (for adoption), went to the kennel to see the dog, and disappeared.”At the time, Hoffman added, the shelter was very busy. But volunteers soon found Nanuk’s kennel empty. He was nowhere to be found.Hoffman quickly called the Bryants, but they had no idea what had happened, either.”I was just devastated,” said Jennie Bryant.They posted a missing dog ad on Craigslist, and Humane Society workers sent out press releases (one of which ran in the OVN’s March 9 edition on Page A1). Just a few days later, a tip was received that a dog matching the description and photo had been seen in the front yard of a Mira Monte home. Another caller said the dog had been seen at a baseball game. So on March 13, Humane Society officers, along with sheriff’s deputies, showed up at the address they’d been given, and did indeed see Nanuk in the front yard. Hoffman said the woman who had stolen him eventually cooperated with officers, and a microchip scan confirmed that it was indeed Nanuk. Humane Society officers brought the dog back to the shelter, where he was reunited on Monday afternoon with Jennie and one of her three children, Patrick, age 18 months.”I couldn’t sleep the whole time” he was missing, Bryant said. But when she got the call that Nanuk had been found, she decided to find a way to bring him home, despite the move. “If we’re going to find a place to live with three children, we’ll surely be able to find one for all of our children!” she said Monday at the shelter, as Nanuk frantically licked her face and tried to jump in her lap.According to Sgt. Maureen Hookstra of the Ojai Police Department, the woman who stole Nanuk from the shelter was cited Sunday for petty theft, which is a misdemeanor. “It’s a real shame,” Hookstra said.”It’s pathetic,” said Hoffman. “The woman had two teenage kids. They asked her not to steal the dog. How can you teach your kids that it’s OK to steal? And the thing is, this woman had a beautiful yard. She probably would have passed the yard inspection (required for adoption). Had they gone through the proper channels, the family probably would’ve been able to take him. But at least we got him back.”Hoffman added that it was a good thing protocol was followed when Nanuk first arrived at the Humane Society, “Thank goodness we took photos and implanted the microchip immediately,” said Hoffman. “This is a perfect example of why it’s so important to microchip your animals. Otherwise, it’s like, try to prove that’s the dog you’re looking for.”The Humane Society of Ventura County offers microchipping services for pets Monday through Saturday during normal business hours. No appointment is necessary. The cost is $15 for the implantation, and $25 to register with the microchipping company. “That lasts for the life of the dog,” Hoffman said. The company also has discounts available for those who register more than one animal at a time. For more information, visit the Humane Society at 402 Bryant St. in Ojai, visit humanesocietyvc.org, or call 646-6505.
This year’s event moved to the larger Ojai Art Center
By Chris T. Wilson
The Ojai Mardi Gras Wake-Up Krewe did it again this past weekend, throwing their annual celebration with the theme for this year being “The Greenman’s Magickal Lair.”
Should governor’s tax measures fail to pass, Ojai schools will suffer
By Misty Volaski
Sam Ewing liked to say that hard work reveals people’s characters.
By Logan Hall
The Ojai City Council made a move on Tuesday to protect the city from taking on the burden of a $5.2 million loan to the city’s Redevelopment Agency (RDA).
By Bill Buchanan
“Thank God for dead soldiers.” It is hard to think of a more offensive slogan to put on a placard, or shout at a rally, parade, or protest. Couple this with the fact that this slogan, and other literary gems like it, are printed on signs and screamed into the faces of grieving families at the funerals of their loved ones who have given their life for our country, and you have the perfect storm of offensive speech.
We all know the pain associated with losing a loved one. I cannot imagine going through the grieving process while just across the street hate-mongers shout slogans and shake signs celebrating the death of your loved one. But this is the mission statement of the faithful members of the Westboro (Kansas) Baptist Church. On a regular basis, they target military funerals to spew their vitriol against minorities, people of other religious faiths, and gay Americans. They claim the military sustains a government that supports gay rights, and that is why God is killing soldiers. Church members travel around the country, gather at a military funeral, get as close to the ceremony as possible, then yell and chant and wave placards as the funerals are being conducted. Their agenda is hatred, fueled by fear.
One would assume they target military funerals so as to be outrageous enough to garner significant media coverage. If so, they have been successful. Media coverage has intensified recently as an understandably upset family sued the church for disrupting Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder’s funeral in 2006. The case moved through the judicial system, and a few days ago, the Supreme Court handed down an 8-1 decision in favor of the church on the basis that the slogans and chants are protected speech under the First Amendment.
The knee-jerk reaction is that speech like this cannot possibly justify protection. But as abhorrent as these tactics by this church seem, the Supreme Court made the right call. If you are going to protect and promote free speech, you have to be willing to accept things that truly disgust you. To do otherwise would go against what the founding fathers so wisely guarded in the Constitution. You either have free speech or you don’t.
The Westboro Baptist Church targets the funerals of those who have fought for the freedom that allows church members to terrorize those soldiers’ families. This church mocks the very people who died protecting the rights of their members to perform such demonstrations. That irony is probably lost on the congregation.
Sometimes our laws allow people to perform repulsive and even perverse actions — -actions that are almost impossible to understand, much less accept. But those very laws are among the things that make our country great. As a nation, we would be diminished if we compromised those laws to halt speech or actions with which we disagree.
By Logan Hall
The city of Ojai is getting frustrated in its push to have the community comply with street sweeping schedules. Some locals seem to be equally as frustrated with the way the city has dealt with community outreach on the issue.
If county upholds decision, Mosler faces strict penalties
By Logan Hall
Quarry owner Larry Mosler is appealing 14 violations brought on his mining operation by the County of Ventura. Mosler will plead his case to the county Board of Supervisors in a hearing set for April 12. He had lost his previous appeal to the county Planning Commission last year.
Most of Bangser’s $400+K income not from Ojai
By Misty Volaski
Ojai Unified School District superintendent Hank Bangser is pulling in an annual salary of more than $400,000 per year.
By Lenny Roberts
In a true act of brotherly love, Beth Allen successfully donated a kidney to her 38-year-old brother, Danny, Tuesday morning at Scripps Green Hospital in San Diego. The operation went well, according to their mother, Carolyn, who said she remains “very cautious and optimistic” for a full recovery for both of her children.
Like her brother, Beth, a 2000 Nordhoff High School graduate and member of the LPGA, grew up in Ojai learning the game of golf from their father, former Soule Park professional and general manager, Jim Allen. The elder Allen died of cancer in 2006 at age 60.
Danny Allen has been on dialysis 10 hours every day for the past five years — this after receiving a donor kidney in 1999.
Telling Golf Week Magazine the decision to donate the organ to her brother was a “given,” the 29-year-old member of the LPGA ha received scores of support messages on Facebook and Twitter. After Tweeting, “I’m all done! Feels like I’ve done 10 million sit-ups but I’m OK!” she posted a thank you to PGA player and cancer survivor Paul Azinger, who called her a hero on her Facebook page.
Allen plans to rejoin the LPGA European Tour the first week in May when she will tee it up for the Turkish Ladies Open in Antalya.
Danny Allen is expected to be released from the hospital today. The OVN is planning a follow-up report on their conditions next week.
Compiled by Misty Volaski
Last Thursday evening, six Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce members received awards in their respective categories at the fourth annual “Celebrating Business in the Ojai Valley” awards gala. One hundred seventy-five people filled the Hacienda Ballroom at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, and were treated to two hours of fast-paced entertainment and awards, directed by Stu Crowner.