By Misty Volaski
After almost seven years on the Ojai Unified School District Board, Steve Fields announced Tuesday night that effective May 12, he is resigning his position.First elected in November 2004 and re-elected in 2008, Fields is moving out of state, said OUSD superintendent Hank Bangser, and therefore must resign his post.In an e-mail, Fields later said, “I have found my time on the board extremely rewarding. I have learned quite a lot about the challenges we all face as a society in preparing our next generation of citizens for adulthood. We have a very committed community of teachers, administrators, support staff and parents who are trying against all odds to prepare our young people for their future. I hope that we can find a way to ensure that we have the funds necessary to accomplish this goal. I would encourage all doubters in our public school system to spend a day at one of our schools and see firsthand the hard work and dedication from our teachers and excitement in learning by our students.”After Fields’ official announcement, remaining board members Kathi Smith, Rikki Horne, Pauline Mercado and Linda Taylor discussed their options in replacing Fields, whose term would have expired in November 2012. Bangser and executive assistant of business services Andrea Pendleton reported that one option, a mid-term election, could cost the already cash-strapped district between $40,000 and $80,000. An interview process and subsequent appointment by the board, however, is permissible and would not require an election.”I wish,” responded Mercado, board vice president, “that there was some way we could have an election.”Board President Horne said, “All I hear is $80,000.”It was determined that the board would continue the conversation and make a decision at the next board meeting, scheduled for May 10. Bangser explained that should the board decide to appoint a provisional member, the interview process could be done in a public format. Among the requirements: the person must be at least 18 years of age, live within the OUSD boundaries, be a registered voter, and cannot be employed by the OUSD (they would need to resign prior to accepting the position).Prior to the Fields discussion, board members looked at a few cost-saving measures related to classified (noncertificated) employees. Tentative agreements with the California School Employees Association union extended this year’s eight-day work furlough program and early-retirement program, among other things. Compromises on both sides will result in savings to the district of at least .4 full-time equivalent employees —- meaning that if the CSEA ratifies the tentative agreement (which should occur on May 6), some employee hours and positions will be saved.Other money-saving measures were discussed and passed, such as the decision to send notices to some classified employees that they may not have jobs for the 2011-2012 school year. The notices, Bangser hastened to add, are mostly a technicality. By law, those notices must go out by April 29, or the option of saving money by laying off those employees would no longer be an option for the OUSD board. But, Bangser said Thursday, “The good news is, no doubt some of these people — not all, but a good number — will be offered re-employment once we know how much money we’re getting (from state and federal sources). We’re very, very hopeful we will be able to reinstate a high percentage of those people. The hours they’re employed is directly related to the funding source.”Tuesday’s meeting found the board agreeing to send out the notices, but, acknowledged Horne, “That this has turned into an administrative process is absolutely devastating.”"We’re doing our best to keep the hurt down,” Bangser responded.In public comment, local resident Pat McPherson spoke on behalf of Ojai Friends of Locally Owned Water, asking that the board look at the group’s website (ojaiflow.com), and consider passing a resolution to support F.L.O.W.’s efforts. If FL.O.W.’s plan is enacted, McPherson told the board, it would save the OUSD $22,000 in the first year, would represent $100,000 in savings after three years, and $600,000 in savings in 10 years. Board members agreed to add it as an agenda item for their May 10 meeting. “I don’t know how we can look away from $22,000 in savings,” said Smith.
Thousand Oaks officers, on loan for the weekend at Chief
Dunn’s request, cite 35 drivers, mostly for using cell phones
By Logan Hall
The long arm of the law reached out and snagged distracted drivers on the streets of Ojai over the weekend. Two deputies from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Thousand Oaks substation were brought to Ojai on Saturday and Sunday to help Ojai deputies with traffic enforcement.The Thousand Oaks motorcycle officers, Mike Berg and Todd Bell, hit the streets separately, giving Ojai one extra deputy on Saturday and Sunday. The two deputies wrote a total of 35 tickets through the weekend — most of which were for distracted driver violations involving talking or texting on a cell phone according to Capt. Chris Dunn, Ojai’s chief of police. Dunn stated that the extra enforcement was covered in the department’s budget and brought no additional costs to the city.Dunn says the motorcycle officers offer capabilities that aren’t possible for the larger patrol cars that are regularly seen in the valley. “It’s much easier for the motor officers to get through the streets to enforce traffic laws,” said Dunn. “Especially on busy weekends with a lot of traffic congestion, it’s difficult for the patrol cars to turn around when they see something. They see a lot of violations, but have to weigh that against the hazard of turning the car around.” Sgt. Rick Harwood, with the VCSD Thousand Oaks substation, oversees the traffic bureau in his jurisdiction. A motorcycle officer himself, Harwood agrees with Dunn’s logic. “It helps being on a motorcycle,” he said in a phone interview. “We can park in spots that the cars can’t, and we’re not as noticeable to motorists.”Law enforcement officials across the country have been cracking down on phone-wielding motorists during the National Safety Council’s Distracted Driving campaign this month. According to the latest NSC estimates, 28 percent of traffic collisions (about 1.6 million) nationwide can be attributed to talking or texting on cell phones while driving. This month, the California Office of Traffic Safety released the results of the first statewide survey of cell phone use by drivers. The OTS reports that researches observed drivers at 130 intersections in 17 counties statewide in an attempt to catalog cell phone use on California’s roadways. The survey found that 4.4 percent of drivers observed were talking or texting on a cell phone, although officials believe the numbers could be much higher than that. “… it’s not always possible to tell in a short, limited view observation whether someone is using a phone, especially for texting,” read the report. Another survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that 9 percent of drivers were using cell phones while driving.While it seems that the population is slow to fall in line behind cell phone laws, the consequences for failing to adhere to the laws can be dire. The Traffic Safety Administration says that in 2009, 5,474 people were killed and 448,000 more were injured in crashes that were reported to have involved distracted drivers. Most agencies show that cell phone use is the No. 1 cause of distracted driver-related crashes.In addition to physical injury and death, the financial impact on individuals violating cell phone laws could also prove to be a deterrent. The fine for a first-time offense is $159 and $279 for subsequent offenses according to the OTS.“I think you’ll start seeing more people comply as enforcement increases,” said Harwood. “It will take time, but I think you’ll see more campaigns targeting cell phone users.”Dunn indicates that the Ojai Sheriff’s substation has been planning on focusing on traffic enforcement, and with recent traffic collisions in the valley, this was a good time to implement the plan. “With the recent crash we had,” he said, indicating the collision on West Ojai Avenue that killed locals Wayne Ortman and Sonia Miller earlier this month, “… public awareness about safety issues is heightened. It was very tragic, but it’s a good time to really enforce traffic laws and inform the public to be safe.”
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
It seems incredible for me to say this, but I can foresee a day when I may quit watching football. I’ll hedge my bets on this statement because there are few things I enjoy watching more than college football. I’m a huge fan of the Crimson Tide of Alabama, but I love watching just about any quality college game. I don’t have the same passion for professional football, but if a game is on, I usually watch some of it, and I almost always catch the play-off games and Super Bowl.This is slowly changing for me. Recently, Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw went public with the information that he is feeling the effects of several concussions he sustained during his football career. These effects include short-term memory loss as well as the loss of hand-eye coordination. He is starting to experience symptoms that we now generally associate with those who are many years older than a 62-year-old. Studies on the effects of multiple concussions sustained in sports have been slow in coming. But a 2009 study commissioned by the NFL reported that Alzheimer’s disease, or similar memory-related diseases appear to have been diagnosed in the league’s former players at enormously higher rates than in the national population. For men aged 30 to 49, the rate is a staggering 19 times the norm. This is no longer a subject that can be ignored or swept aside.The NFL has defended their rules and policies, saying they promote safety. These policies sound eerily similar to the assurances made by the Japanese government that there were no leaks in their nuclear facilities, and we all know how that worked out. Congress has also made some noise about getting involved in the issue. It seems a little ironic that a group of people who often seem to have no brain at all want to monitor the brains of others.I see three main obstacles with any attempts to control this problem in football — the three M’s — muscle, machismo and money. There is more muscle in today’s game than ever before. The size and speed of players in the NFL has increased tremendously over the years. Since 1970, the average weight of the players has increased by nearly 25 pounds. These large men are also significantly faster than their earlier counterparts. So you have very big people hitting other very big people at very high speed — and it can only get worse. Some of the collisions you see on TV look like train wrecks. You can’t believe the guys aren’t killed — yet they get up and walk right back into the huddle for more. Football is played by large angry men. Machismo is a big part of the game. Playing with pain is not only valued, but demanded. One of the reasons Terry Bradshaw received so many damaging blows is that he was considered one of the “tough” guys. He returned to the game time and again following hard hits. He, and others like him, went back into games when they should have been held out for their own safety, but weren’t. All-Pro safety Ronnie Lott once had part of his damaged finger amputated rather than miss part of the season. Doing what most of us would never even consider only added to his legend. No one wants to be seen as weak, or unwilling to play with pain.But the biggest driving force is money. Many players’ contracts have incentive clauses attached that increase a player’s pay significantly if they meet certain goals. There are no incentives for sitting on the bench. So if a player wants to increase his pay, he has to play. Players are also afraid of losing their job to someone else if they sit out with an injury. Starters get paid a lot more than those who sit on the bench. So players do everything they can to stay on the field, often at their own peril.Several newspaper articles and some TV shows, such as the excellent “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” are beginning to address the concussion issue aggressively. It is especially painful to see the larger-than-life football heroes of your youth reduced to physical and mental shells of their former selves. That said; no one is forced to play. No one holds a gun to anyone’s head and says, “Now get out there and get some concussions.” But your heart goes out to those men and their families. After seeing those images, I am starting to feel a little guilty about supporting something that leaves those men in such terrible shape. It’s becoming harder and harder for me to enjoy the game thinking about what lies ahead for many of those on the field.
By Logan Hall
The Ojai City Council took an official stance in support of the efforts of Ojai Friends of Locally Owned Water last night. With Councilwoman Sue Horgan absent, the four present council members voted unanimously to back the efforts of F.L.O.W. to petition Casitas Municipal Water District to buy out Golden State Water Company.
After hearing comments from F.L.O.W. representatives Richard Hajas and Bob Daddi, the council wasted little time in discussing the issue and passed the resolution almost immediately. “We’re very pleased with F.L.O.W.’s efforts,” said Mayor Carol Smith.
F.L.O.W. gained the city’s attention after going public with their plan, along with an in-depth analysis of Golden State and the financial and legal feasibility of the effort. The group has proposed to Casitas to issue a $33 million bond that would cover the cost of the buy-out, as well as much-needed repairs to Golden State’s infrastructure.
In the resolution, the city makes their stance in support of F.L.O.W. clear, “… the city of Ojai hereby urges the board of directors of Casitas Municipal Water District to seriously study and give due consideration to the proposal by Ojai F.L.O.W. to have Casitas become the provider of water to Golden State’s Ojai water customers.”
Also at the meeting was Golden State’s coastal district manager Ken Peterson. In a short address to the council, Peterson simply said he hoped his company could continue to provide service to Ojai’s community. He also requested that the council allow Golden State to attend a future council meeting to address the analysis that F.L.O.W. had presented.
Representatives of F.L.O.W. seem to be encouraged by the city’s response, and see it as a big step in accomplishing their goals. “We’re very pleased that the city sees it the same way that we do,” said F.L.O.W.’s Pat McPherson, who has put in many hours helping put the proposal together. “I think it will do a lot to help Casitas recognize that the community is behind this effort.”
Earlier in the evening, prior to attending the City Council meeting, McPherson had gone to the Ojai Unified School District’s board meeting to urge the board to look into F.L.O.W.’s plan. McPherson told the board they could save $22,000 in the first year of being a Casitas customer. That statement seemed to get the board’s attention. “I don’t know how we can look away from $22,000 in savings,” said OUSD board member Kathi Smith later in the meeting. The school board agreed to put the issue on the agenda for their next meeting on May 10.
By Chris T. Wilson
The Ojai City Council joined a group of valley residents and business owners in opposition to a proposed wedding and event venue in the East End at its meeting Tuesday evening.Although the proposed event location at 283 Carne Road is not within the city’s sphere of influence, it does fall within its area of interest the agenda noted. If approved, the wedding and event center could host as many as 40 events per year, two every weekend from April through September, that would allow for up to 270 guests, 137 cars, and amplified music from 3 to 10 p.m.Mayor Carol Smith said she would direct city planner Katrina Rice Schmidt to draft a letter to the Ventura County Planning Commission offering strong opposition to the conditional use permit application from Jeff and Rosalyn Luttrull based on concerns raised about the potential for noise, safety, traffic and fire.A handful of residents who live near the proposed event site spoke at the meeting and had their concerns largely echoed by a few local business owners. Among the group was Ojai Valley Municipal Advisory Council Member Jerry Kaplan, who represents the East End, and, along with his wife Anne, has formed the East End Alliance to fight the wedding venue.”This is terrible,” Kaplan said. “How this ever got to where it is, I don’t know. There are so many errors, omissions and falsifications in this C.U.P. it’s incredible.”Kaplan said that if the Planning Commission approves the C.U.P. at their 8:30 a.m. meeting Thursday, it would be appealed to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors.”If we lose there it’s going to a lawsuit,” he said. The OVMAC held two meetings to discuss this C.U.P. and both times voted to direct county planners to deny it.Councilman Paul Blatz recused himself from the discussion of the item because of a conflict, but Mayor Smith and Councilwomen Carlon Strobel and Betsy Clapp spoke against the proposed event venue.”I think overall when someone wants to turn a residence into a commercial venture for the purposes of financial gain at the expense of their neighbors, I would like to see us take a strong position against this,” Clapp said.Colin Jones, who lives on a ridge on Ladera Road overlooking the East End of the valley, said noise travels well in the valley. He can hear music from concerts at Libbey Bowl, he said, and the Nordhoff High School band playing at football games even though they are both several miles from his home. This event venue would be like opening a bar on the weekends, but the owner wouldn’t be there, he said.”Peace and tranquility is one of the main reasons I live there,” Jones said. “There’s not a lot of that left in California. “Mayor Smith said she would make sure the letter opposing the event center permit application would be delivered to the Ventura County Planning Commission before its meeting Thursday morning in the Board of Supervisor’s Meeting Room at the County Government Center Hall of Administration in Ventura.
Read the original report HERE
Local bar owner makes 131 trips along Ojai Avenue for earthquake relief
By Misty Volaski
How far would you go to help the disaster-stricken people of Japan? For The Village Jester owner Nigel Chisholm, the answer is 26.2 miles — on rollerblades.Chisholm spent Easter Sunday rollerblading back and forth on Ojai Avenue between Fox Street and Signal Street, making a total of 131 trips to equal the length of a marathon (26.2 miles). It took him 5 hours and 56 minutes and two pairs of rollerblades, but Chisholm managed to raise over $1,000 for Direct Relief International, a four-star nonprofit organization which will donate 100 percent of the proceeds directly to the people of Japan.His preparation? “A cup of tea and an egg sandwich,” Chisholm laughed. In a Facebook post, he explained why he didn’t train for his marathon. “I thought it would be more fun if I didn’t train given that I haven’t been on rollerblades for two years,” he wrote. “Maybe I’d get to understand what it felt like to have nothing left but to have to keep going. Just like those people who were running from the tsunami.”A former resident of Japan whose daughters were born there, Chisholm has a special place in his heart for the people of the island nation. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without them,” he said. “Those people didn’t get to prepare for what happened. This was a profound learning experience for me.”He began his day, he said, on a pair of regular rollerblades, but around mile 10 began to realize one of the wheels on his right skate was beginning to buckle. So he turned the wheels around and skated on just three wheels for a while, eventually graduating to using one hockey skate and one regular skate. “Then the left one started to go out!” he said. “So I switched to both hockey blades, which were easier and faster. I bet I’d have finished sooner if I would have had the hockey blades on the whole time.”But Chisholm was not without help. He had a group of folks cheering for him along the route, and cars honked and people waved as he rolled past. “That cheering section really did make a big difference!” he said. “They cheered for me every time I passed them, so 131 times!” He gave a special thanks to locals Buddy Wilds and Mike Tregler, who rode their bikes with him for a few miles.”He certainly had determination!” said family friend Kate Horwick, one of Chisholm’s fans along the route. “We weren’t sure he would make it at first. A few of us even started a betting pool for how many miles we thought he would do, but he did it all! When he finished there were lots of hoots and hollering. He had his ups and downs, looked like he was in a lot of pain, but he pulled it out. It was an inspiring day. We’re really proud of him!”Acknowledged Chisholm, “I was pretty emotional at the end, and I don’t usually get like that. But I’ve never done anything like this. I’ve done other extreme things, but I never just decided to do a marathon with no training. My shorts hung off me by the end, I lost quite a bit of weight!” He said he did get cramped up a bit here and there, was shaking afterwards and couldn’t eat right away, but wouldn’t change a thing — except, of course, to have used the hockey rollerblades the whole time. “Ojai Avenue is not as flat as you think it is!”Chisholm has already spearheaded “OjaiAid: From the Valley of the Moon to the Land of the Rising Sun,” a benefit concert, documentary and selection of songs performed by local musicians (see Ojaiaid.com to purchase). Funds from that effort are also being donated to Direct Relief International.And Chisholm isn’t done yet. His latest scheme: bicycling around Ojai with 11 other people for 24 hours straight, or until they’ve cycled the equivalent of a coast-to-coast ride across America. “We want to get hooked up to a GPS, so people can tell where we are. We might be on Montgomery Street, but we would be in Kansas City.” He’s hoping to be ready by June for that event.Summed up Chisholm, “This made me feel like I was making a bit of a difference, that a person can make a difference. There is something that touches everyone and calls them to action. I guess this is mine.”Donate to Chisholm’s efforts and Direct Relief International by visiting OjaiAid.com.
Since 1891 the Ojai Village Pharmacy at the corner of Ojai Avenue and Signal Street has been in continuous operation.This Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the store owners — husband and wife team, pharmacist Fred Leivo and manager Nancy Melet — are hosting a celebration for the store to thank the community for supporting the business and keeping it in continuous operation for 120 years.The drugstore holds the title of oldest in Ventura County and, according to Leivo, it’s one of the three oldest in the state of California. The historical significance of the drugstore has been a matter of interest for Leivo. He’s been digging around in the back room and the attic and finding antique treasures and wants to restore the original look of the drugstore in its heyday.”We found an old display case in the back and we were looking at it and saw a little strip of marble along the base,” Leivo says. “So we looked at this old picture of the pharmacy from 1918 and saw that it was the same marble strip that forms the base of it. It was an original fixture, so we restored it and put it in as the front counter now.”Fascinated by the rich history of the store, Leivo and Melet are both focusing energy on a continued restoration of the historical site. In addition to the daily tasks of running the business, they have plans that would revitalize the historical look and feel of the store.”As time permits and as we’re able to get actual permits, we plan on raising the ceiling back to its original height and restoring the fixtures back to turn of century,” Leivo says. “And we’re hoping to put in a soda fountain and bring place back to way it used to be. It’s a long process but we have started.”When it originally opened, the population of the valley was just 300, and it was the only place with a telephone. Leivo adds that he’s heard rumors that a speakeasy existed under the Arcade during prohibition, and that boxing matches were held in the drugstore that would sometimes spill out onto the street.”There were some interesting goings-on in the Wild West days,” Leivo says. The store’s website, ojaivillagepharmacy.com, offers an interesting recount of the store’s history.The couple purchased the business just one year ago in April 2010 and proved quite quickly that they knew what they were doing. In February, they garnered the Retail Customer Satisfaction Leader Award 2010 from the Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce. They attribute individualized service, customer appreciation and a helpful, friendly staff to the success they’ve enjoyed in the past year.”The best thing I enjoy is our customers,” Melet says. “Being the owner of an independent store means you can give that special attention to each one.”The couple owned and operated Coast Village Pharmacy in Montecito for nearly 20 years, Leivo says. And after developing a business to treat chronic sinusitis and working in a corporate pharmacy for a few years, he was happy to be back in a small community environment.”I’m having a ball,” Leivo says.Saturday’s celebration will include selected discounts, a barbershop quartet, balloons, refreshments and free bone density exams that test for osteoporosis. Everyone is invited.”We want Ojai to know that this is not just a pharmacy, it’s a destination,” Melet says.Ojai Village Pharmacy is located at 202 E. Ojai Avenue, in the Ojai Arcade.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Department
Nature of Incident: Recovery of Stolen Assault Rifles
Location: 1500 block Loma, Ojai, CA
Date & Time: April 6, 2011 to April 21, 2011
Unit Responsible: Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Gang Unit
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (W)itnesses City of Residence Age
(S-1) Brian Teasdale Ojai 41
(S-2) Nikolas Teasdale Ojai 18
(S-3) Anthony Lindsey Ojai 39
On 4-6-2011, Patrol deputies responded to a residential burglary call in the 1400 block of Loma, Ojai. An initial investigation found that an unknown person(s) had broken into the victim’s home and removed a large gun safe. The gun safe contained two (2) assault rifles, 12 other assorted firearms, over 3000 rounds of ammunition and cash. All of the weapons were legally possessed by the victim. The total loss was valued at over $12,000.
The Sheriff’s Gang Unit investigated the burglary and developed information that Brian Teasdale, his son Nikolas Teasdale, and Anthony Lindsey committed the burglary. After a two-week investigation, gang investigators learned that after the burglary, the three suspects took the safe to a welding fabrication shop in the City of Ventura. The suspects cut the safe open and removed all of the contents. The rifles and ammunition were then distributed between three separate locations.
Gang investigators served numerous search warrants and were able to recover all but one of the Rifles. Among the weapons recovered was an AR-10 and a SKS assault rifle with a high capacity magazine. Nikolas Teasdale and Brian Teasdale were both arrested on Wednesday for residential burglary. Both remain in custody awaiting trial.
Gang Investigators arrested Anthony Lindsey this morning while serving a search warrant at his residence. Lindsey is a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing any firearms or ammunition. A search of his residence found one of the stolen high capacity magazines for the SKS assault rifle, a loaded handgun, two (2) rifles, numerous rounds of ammunition, and a small quantity of methamphetamine. Lindsey was arrested on charges that include residential burglary, felon in possession of a firearm, and being in possession of a firearm while in possession of methamphetamine. Lindsey was booked into the Ventura County Jail where he remains awaiting trial.
Gang investigators will continue the investigation until the one missing rifle is recovered.
Officer Preparing Release: Sgt. Bill Schierman
By Chris Wilson
A proposed wedding and event center on a private olive ranch on Carne Road in Ojai’s East End is causing a stir among valley residents and business owners.
Ommagio Farm, home to Regalo Olive Oil Company and Jeffrey and Rosalyn Luttrull at 283 Carne Road, is the site of the proposed wedding and event center. Luttrull, an eye surgeon with a practice in Ventura, applied for the conditional use permit, which will be considered by Ventura County Planning Commission on April 28 at 8:30 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room at the County Government Center Complex.
The proposed conditional use permit application requests the following uses for the property. On approval, it would allow for up to 40 events to be held per year between April and September on a two-acre portion of the 12-acre property. Up to 250 guests can attend an event held there, and 137 parking spaces will be provided on the property. All events must be set up and broken down between the hours of noon and midnight, with the actual time for guests to arrive and leave to be between 3 and 10 p.m. The private residence on the property will not be included for use during events.
Proposed under the umbrella of “agri-tourism,” which is intended to provide alternative revenue streams to farms and ranches, the breadth and scope of the project has raised concerns for nearby neighbors and other East End residents, and has been rejected by the Ojai Valley Municipal Advisory Council by a vote of 5-1.
Anne Kaplan and Jerry Kaplan (a member of the MAC), who live on Carne Road between Grand Avenue and Thacher Road, have been active in organizing the opposition. They have created the informal group East End Alliance, and have held meetings at their home in the 1400 block of Carne Road to raise awareness of the noise, traffic, dust and fire hazards that the event center could potentially impose on the East End and threaten the quality of life they have come to enjoy.
“There is a huge concern on potential safety issues, when you have that many cars leaving an event at 10 p.m. on unfamiliar dark roads,” Anne Kaplan said. “People at a wedding will be drinking alcohol and there will be no provision for enforcement.”
Said Terry Beckett, an East End resident of 12 years, “I believe Ojai is a treasure and anything like that is taking a step to destroy the treasure and the kind of environment we have here.”
Luttrull’s neighbor, Helene Hamm, whose family has owned property on Carne Road since 1912, was succinct in her take on the proposed event center.
“It is totally inappropriate for that peaceful area,” Hamm said. “Apparently he has no consideration and concern for his neighbors and we are just adamantly opposed to it.”
John and Allie Bueti, both teachers at The Thacher School, echoed the statements of Kaplan, Hamm and Beckett. The Buetis both noted that noise travels very easily around the valley and that the silence and peacefulness of the valley are its strong points.
Allie Bueti said that it’s inappropriate to bring additional traffic to an area that’s already dangerous.
“I can fully appreciate that they think they have the right to do whatever they want with their property,” she said. “I’m not opposed to someone having a wedding on their land, but sound travels up. There are no secrets in this valley, and this would definitely take the shine off the apple.”
But the proposed event center is not without its supporters. Several local restaurant and hotel owners penned letters in support of the project. And others, including Friends Ranch and The Ojai Retreat, also offered words of support for the event center C.U.P. to receive County Planning approval.
Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Eicher issued a statement on Tuesday in support of the project that included a possible alternative recommendation of a one-year C.U.P. — the application is for a five-year permit — that would allow the opportunity to see if the event center could be potentially viable without being too intrusive.
It states, in part, “It is the chamber’s position that because all C.U.P. conditions have been met, and because the county’s own process has deemed granting of the permit to have ‘minimal’ to ‘no’ impact on the community with regard to traffic, noise, and all of the other concerns that have been expressed, that the county is fully within its right to grant the C.U.P. for a minimum of five years. However, the chamber is sensitive to the concern over quality of life and environmental issues and understands that there is considerable opposition to this C.U.P. within the Ojai East End community. We therefore suggest that, in a sense of fairness, the County Planning Commission could decide to grant a conditional one-year C.U.P. with a limited number of events to give Mr. Luttrull and the opposition an opportunity to see if this can work to the satisfaction of both parties. This would in essence be giving Mr. Luttrull ‘the right to fail.’”
When pressed, Luttrull did not respond to requests for his input and perspective on the situation, other than to say via e-mail, “It’s all in the public record.”
With certain mitigating elements in place, the County Planning Division has deferred the final call on approving the C.U.P. to the Planning Commission, said Dan Klemann, who manages residential permits for the county. He said a staff report would be published on the Planning Division website on Friday and confirmed that the Planning Commission will hear the issue at their meeting on April 28.
Klemann said a similar situation in Somis for a proposed wedding venue created a lot of controversy in 2010 and was appealed all the way to the Board of Supervisors. It was approved on several conditions, which included scaled-back event sizes, fewer than the proposed number of guests at each event and shorter hours of operation.
“There are some gray areas in the law, so we can make our recommendation that we believe you can approve this project, but the discretion is up to the decision makers who are either elected or appointed by the supervisors,” Klemann said.
By Sally Rice
Given the recent roller-coaster weather, it was a pleasant surprise that last Saturday was a sunny day – ideal for the C.R.E.W.’s seventh annual fund-raising event that included a six-plus–mile hike, trail ride, late afternoon barbecue and silent auction. A highlight of the day included a four-hour journey through the Ventura River Preserve, led by Rick Bisaccia, preserve manager of the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy.
The Concerned Resources and Environmental Workers is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to providing paid employment to primarily at-risk teens who perform a wide variety of habitat restoration, trail repair projects, and conservation work. This event sought to raise funds to continue the C.R.E.W.’s work in this area. All day, Wally McCall, who helms the C.R.E.W., was running around like a golden retriever, making sure everything was in place and ready for guests. He paused briefly to explain the purpose of his nonprofit organization.
“Seven years ago the focus of C.R.E.W. was trail-clearing and environmental work. Then, we slowly moved into fire work, making fire breaks in the surrounding wilderness. We’re averaging 15 to 20 miles of fire breaks per year,” McCall said, with a soft Aussie accent. McCall spoke with pride of the disadvantaged young adults he’s brought to the program.
“We’re providing paid jobs for at-risk kids ages 12 to 17. It’s a wonderful opportunity that builds character, and teaches valuable life skills. Although the drop-out rate is about 40 percent after the first week — it’s tough, physical work they’re doing —- the rest average three years on the program,” McCall said.
Last year, C.R.E.W. provided more than 10,000 hours of paid work for at-risk teens. In addition, C.R.E.W places an average of six to 10 kids each year into firefighting programs or the Fire Academy, leading to professional careers in that field. As a whole, 25 out of 100 at-risk teens follow their experience with C.R.E.W by continuing on to college programs.
One of the newer projects that has McCall excited involves the C.R.E.W.’s assistance to low-income senior citizens and disabled individuals whose property needs help with fire prevention maintenance. With the June 2 deadline for bush clearance approaching, teen crews help clear home sites, and assist in fire prevention education, both inside and outside the residence.
“It’s the kids that do the work, and they do a great job,” McCall beamed. “Some of the fires that have swept through mobile home parks and residences have been devastating. Currently we have 519 people and 50 homes we’re helping in the program.”
Also in attendance Saturday was Margaret Grayson, executive director of California Fire Safe Council (a statewide organization that partners with the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and National Parks), which awards grants to organizations and individuals seeking funds and support for wild land preservation and education.
Other guests at the event included: Ventura County Fire Chief Bob Roper; Will Castagna, grant manager for Ojai Valley Fire Safe Council Education; Gordon Hemphill, president of Los Padres Forest Association; Brian Stark, conservation director for Ojai Valley Land Conservancy; and Sue Exline, district ranger for the U.S. Forest Service and Los Padres National Forest.
For more information on the C.R.E.W.’s projects, visit thecrew.org.
By Linda Harmon
Ojai music lovers gathered at the Pepper Tree Inn, the former home of Krishnamurti in the East End, to get a peek at the upcoming 65th Music Festival, scheduled for June 9 through 12. Thomas Morris, festival artistic director, and Doug McLennan, editor of ArtsJournal.com, were on hand to discuss how the new Libbey Bowl would affect the Music Festival program. The take-away, the people behind the music have acted to retain the “intimate” and exploratory feel of the festival.
According to Morris, the Music Festival tried “to preserve the things we love about it … We had to ask, ‘What is really the essence of this festival?’ What happens in this place is so intimate, not just on stage, but with the audience. The performers actually feel they are getting something back from the audience, an energy. We needed to preserve that.”
Morris said watching the new structure take shape was “a little like watching the grandchildren grow up.”
Although its dimensions haven’t changed that much, Morris said the bowl will be “a little more formal,” and “we’re spending a lot more of our time on how the festival will look on the stage.”
As for the music on tap, the weekend will feature cutting-edge performers in keeping with the Music Festival’s reputation. Morris first discussed Dawn Upshaw, who will return for her fourth year. Upshaw, whose background includes teaching, will bring eight of her most talented students. Shown in a clip played by Morris, Upshaw’s classroom lesson taught the importance of vocal expression, “acting” the music.
The festival chose Upshaw not only for her talent, but also because she is “not standing still and is still exploring,” and Morris expects her students to inject a fresh perspective.
“She’s an artist and advocate of new music and has begun to curate festivals of artistic collaboration,” said Morris. “In bringing these students to the stage, it will be like peering into someone’s living room to hear the performances and Dawn will be our guide.”
Another exciting addition was the Australian Chamber Orchestra. “Not very many performers perform the way they perform,” said Morris, waving his hands in excitement. “They perform standing up, not like other musicians who seem glued in their chairs and barely cheerful.”
Morris showed the audience a funny, upbeat Australian commercial for the ensemble which garnered laughs from the audience.
“It’s electric,” said Morris. “That commercial captures the spirit of this group of musicians. With no conductor, they sort of follow each other and have a very charismatic leader in Togenetti … They also have a long history with Dawn Upshaw.”
McLennan then talked about another artist on the program, Maria Schneider, who he referred to as a “genre buster … and someone who thinks about her projects very differently.”
“Schneider has been trained as a serious composer,” said Morris, “but she is probably best known for what she calls her jazz orchestra, or big band, most of whom have been working with her for 25 years.”
That jazz orchestra will accompany Schneider to Ojai.
“Since she will already be here for her commissioned work for Dawn Upshaw,” said Morris, “it seemed silly not to invite her jazz orchestra as well.”
The last but no less stellar addition to the lineup is Peter Sellars, another of Upshaw’s past collaborators, who will stage George Crumb’s “The Winds of Destiny.”
According to Morris, Crumb’s chilling movements will be performed by four percussionists playing recognizable Civil War ballads, interspersed with the sounds of war. Crumb’s work is notable for its controversial content and his unconventional methods. The concert is staged to take place from the perspective of a female veteran returning from Afghanistan, with her stateside bed center stage and the action portrayed as her reoccurring memories.
Sellars will also introduce a counterpoint later during the evening performance, bringing on stage several Afghan singers who will give their interpretation, to quote Sellars, “their own shrapnel or memory of war.”
In a film clip, the unconventional Sellars explained the reasoning behind his music and the role of an artist: “It is making a marker, an act of testimony — something we can aspire to — a statement of where we want to be.”
“And that’s what Ojai’s about,” added Morris to loud applause.
In closing, Jeff Haydon urged the audience to spread the word about the upcoming festival, purchase tickets, and not to forget there is still time to support the Music Festival and all its future programs. For more information go to ojaifestival.org.
By Lenny Roberts
At its 2011 awards ceremony April 9, the Peace Officers Association of Ventura County presented eight sheriff’s deputies with Medals of Valor for acts of heroism. Six of those deputies are, or were, assigned to the Ojai substation. Also honored with valor awards were 15 members of other law enforcement agencies.
The 38th annual event, held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, honored Ojai-based deputies Traci Salmon, Gunnar Dike, Rolland Ogawa and Chris Loes, Senior Deputy Mark Burgess and Sgt. Luis Alvarez, specifically for their actions following the Dec. 2 officer-involved shooting that nearly cost Salmon her life.
Each framed proclamation, presented to the deputies and California Department of Fish and Game Warden Jorge Paz, describes in detail the sequence of events that led to the arrest of suspect John Atkinson, 34, who remains in the Ventura County main jail on $1,000,000 bail. Atkinson has been charged with attempted murder of a police officer, second-degree robbery, false imprisonment of two elder or dependent adults, and two counts of elder or dependent adult abuse.
The following is condensed from information printed on the proclamation, alleging the events in chronological order:
Salmon was working patrol in the county area and was dispatched to a 911 hang-up call at 4900 Casitas Pass Road. The call was received at 9:47 a.m., and she arrived 15 minutes later to the remote location. The gate to the property was locked, so Salmon walked the quarter-mile up a steep driveway to the residence. Having received information from dispatchers that a woman at the residence had answered a return call and hung up, and knowing that radio communication in the area was undependable and backup was 15 minutes away, Salmon took note of her surroundings and proceeded cautiously to the front door, which Atkinson opened after she knocked.
Salmon asked if anyone had dialed 911, and Atkinson seemed evasive. Salmon sensed something was wrong, but did not know that prior to her arrival, Atkinson had battered his mother and pushed her to the floor. His father went upstairs to investigate, and he, too, was battered and pushed to the ground. Both were ordered downstairs to the kitchen, where Atkinson continued battering them. He also destroyed the telephones. As Salmon stood at the front door, through a small crack, she saw Atkinson’s father stand up from the kitchen floor. He was soaking wet and looked extremely frightened as he mouthed words “help us.” Knowing she had no backup, and Atkinson’s parents were in extreme danger, she held her ground and was attacked by Atkinson. Atkinson grabbed her shirt and vest while pushing her backward toward end of the porch.
Salmon tried to deploy her Taser during the attack, but Atkinson grabbed it with one hand and struck her multiple times in the head with his other. He was now trying to remove her gun from its holster. She fought for her life, knowing that if he got her gun, no one would survive. The fight continued as they moved inside the residence, where Atkinson struck her in the head with his closed fist, knocking her to the floor. Atkinson gained control of Salmon’s Taser, and Tased her several times. He then took her portable radio, using it to strike her repeatedly in the head. She was able to pull her handgun and fired several rounds at Atkinson, striking him once in the left leg. The suspect continued to beat her with her radio, and was eventually able to gain control of her handgun. He pointed it at her head, and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire. Salmon was able to kick him hard enough to allow her to escape through the back door of the residence.
Atkinson went outside searching for Salmon, who had taken refuge in a dog kennel located next to the home. From there, she was able to call for assistance using her cell phone. Seriously injured, unarmed and under stress, Salmon had the presence of mind to stay in the position of surveillance, allowing her to provide dispatchers with critical information to protect herself and the responding deputies.
Arriving deputies were forced to approach the house without any cover, and were advised that Atkinson also had her shotgun. Fish and Game Warden Jorge Paz had been monitoring the Sheriff’s communication channel and was first to arrive. Without any backup but armed, Paz began the search for Salmon.
Paz was then joined by Sgt. Alvarez, Senior Deputy Burgess and deputies Ogawa, Dike and Loes. The entire rescue team moved toward the residence in search of Salmon with no cover and in danger for their own lives. Dike found her in the kennel just 30 feet from the residence where the suspect was still armed with Salmon’s gun. Dike dismantled the kennel tearing the siding from the structure. With assistance form Ogawa, they extracted her from the kennel.
Only having slight concealment, Alvarez, Loes, Burgess and Paz provided cover during her rescue. Burgess secured her in a police car and took her out of danger to awaiting paramedics. The team maintained a perimeter around the residence until additional resources arrived. Ninety minutes after rescue, Atkinson exited the home and was arrested without further incident.
Atkinson was transported to VCMC where he was treated for a single gunshot wound to the leg and then booked into jail.
Matt Findlay, president of the Peace Officers Association of Ventura County’s board of directors, signed the proclamation.
Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Dunn, who serves as Ojai’s chief of police, said, “The deputies displayed great courage in their response to aid the elderly subjects being held inside the residence by an armed suspect, and the subsequent rescue of an injured deputy. We are very fortunate to have deputies of this caliber who continue to serve our community, and we should feel reassured that they will respond in our time of need, regardless of the potential threats to their safety. I am extremely proud of the six members who were honored and the rest of the men and women at the Ojai Station who work day and night to keep our community safe.”
Atkinson is scheduled to appear in Ventura County Superior Court May 10.
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
It is almost Easter — which was one of my least favorite holidays as a kid. When I was growing up Easter meant two things —- well, two additional things — extra worship services and shopping for new clothes to wear to church. Easter Sunday meant dressing up and wearing your best, which meant a trip or two to the store to get something shiny and new.I have heard it said that women shop, men replace. Given some of the shopping experiences I endured as a child and the emotional scar tissue I still carry from it, I can see why that might be the case.As a kid, I despised shopping. You had to stop playing, go inside, get cleaned up, put on nice clothes and go into shop after shop after shop to find shoes, pants, shirts, etc. This meant losing hours of playtime that could never be regained. Generally, shopping with my mother, sister and maiden aunt was an exercise in extreme boredom, followed by total humiliation. While waiting for the adults as they shopped, there was little for a kid to do. Chasing my sister around and hiding from my mother in the clothes racks provided only limited entertainment. Add in the fact that I got scolded and sometimes smacked on the behind for such behavior, and shopping became something even more dreaded.The humiliation came when it was time to shop for my clothes. I was a chunky little kid. My mother and I would walk to the boys’ department of the store. As soon as a salesperson flashed any sign of recognition of our presence, my mother would undergo a transformation. Normally a demure, soft-spoken Southern woman, she would suddenly evolve into a human megaphone. From about 100 yards away, she would belt out, “We’re looking for some pants!” Then, gazing down at me, she would add, “And he’ll need a husky!” This would be uttered at a decibel level roughly equal to that of a departing jet or an Aerosmith concert.Then we would begin the ritualistic torture of selecting clothes to take to the dressing room. My mother would stand just outside the door, passing garment after garment to me. I would dutifully try on each item of clothing, and then trot out for inspection. My mother was a careful shopper, and had a keen eye for any imperfection in the material. While I just wanted to get it over with, my mother would turn me in 60 different directions, only to say, “No, that shirt has a spot on it” or “No, that seam is pulling loose.” Then we would start the procedure all over again. It seemed like we did this for hours. I felt like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.”It might have been worth it all if all the work had paid off, sartorially speaking. But my sweet mother had heinous taste in boy’s clothes. I look back on childhood pictures in amazement and horror at some of the outfits I was forced to wear in public. There were oddly patterned coats and short pants and skinny clip-on ties and bizarre little hats that made me look like I had just landed in this country on a boat from a Soviet-bloc nation. Fabrics were chosen for their sturdiness and length of wear rather than for comfort. There were many hot Southern Sundays that saw me squirming around on the church pew in a scratchy wool suit that felt like it was made out of haircut clippings.Years later, when I was allowed to shop on my own, I enjoyed the experience a lot more. One of my favorite shops growing up was a small store owned by Heiman Ziedeman. I loved going into Ziedeman’s. Mr. Ziedeman was Jewish and German, which made him a very rare commodity in rural Alabama. It would be akin to finding a really good interior decorator at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. I did not realize until later that my friend had escaped Hitler’s Nazi Germany because he feared for his life.One of the things I liked most about the store was the beautiful Persian cat that always lounged lazily on the television he kept in the shop. The TV was always on, but I don’t think anyone ever watched it. I think it was kept on so the cat had a warm place to lie. Whenever I was in the shop I would go over to the television and scratch the cat on her belly and behind her ears and listen to her purr.Mr. Ziedeman had a wonderful accent and I loved to hear him speak — -”zis” and “zat” and “yah.” One day two friends from high school and I went into the shop for some pants. I was browsing through the rack of pants, and Mr. Ziedeman came up to assist us. “Hello, yunk man (he always called boys young man), vat size trousers do you need?” By this time, I had hit a growth spurt, and was tall and slender. I answered, “Size 32 (waist), please, sir.”He pointed me to the right rack, then he turned to one of my friends, who was not so slender (in fact, kind of short and pudgy), and asked, “And vat size pants do you vare yunk man?”My friend replied, “Yeah, I’ll take a size 32, too.”Mr. Ziedeman looked down at his midsection, and without missing a beat, said, “Yunk man, I vill eat za pair of serty-twos zat you can vare.”My other friend and I laughed so hard we almost fell over the rack. The story soon became legend in our high school. And that one shopping trip almost made up for all the bad ones I had endured as a child.
By Logan Hall
Ventura County law enforcement officers took Ojai resident Jonathan Mosqueda into custody on Friday — twice.
After being arrested by Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies on a disturbance call in the 200 block of Summer Street, Mosqueda was being transported to the county’s Main Jail when he escaped from the patrol car according to Capt. Mike Aranda, Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman.
VCSD reports show that shortly before reaching the Government Center, Mosqueda was able to slip out of his handcuffs and subsequently broke out the back window of the patrol car. Aranda says the deputy transporting Mosqueda gave chase, but Mosqueda was able to evade him after crossing the 126 Freeway north of the Government Center on foot.
According to the report, Mosqueda entered a residential area north of the freeway where he climbed onto the roof of a residence, attempting to hide from law enforcement. After calls for assistance, the California Highway Patrol and Ventura Police Department aided in the search.
Aranda says that authorities scoured the area for 45 minutes before Ventura Police Department officers located Mosqueda on the roof of the home. The officers climbed to the roof and were forced to use a Taser on Mosqueda when he failed to comply with the officers’ orders.
Mosqueda was transported to the Main Jail for a second time and was booked and charged with resisting arrest, vandalism to a government vehicle, escape from custody, and prowling, according to Aranda. He was released at 2 p.m. after $30,000 bail was posted.
“He made a bad situation a lot worse,” commented Capt. Chris Dunn, Ojai’s chief of police.
By Chris T. Wilson
Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has elevated a global awareness that individuals working together toward a common goal can make the planet a better place today and for future generations.
For the Ojai Valley, which celebrates Earth Play on Saturday at Oak Grove School in Meiners Oaks, the event has truly become a team effort.
Formerly put on solely by the school, the event is now a collaboration with the combined support of Food for Thought, Ojai Valley Green Coalition and the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy. Sharing the effort, the groups have coordinated a day full of food, creativity, education, music and, most of all, fun.
Andy Gilman, in his first year as director of outreach for Oak Grove School, said that working together with the groups has made organizing Earth Play a pleasure.
“Since Oak Grove took on the Earth Day event and has seen it grow each year, other non-profits have seen the benefit of being involved,” Gilman said. “Now we’ve developed this partnership that helps to spread out the labor and expenses of putting it on and it’s been really fun; really stellar.”
Gilman explained that the event is called Earth Play for the second year in the spirit of educating young people on the responsibilities of stewardship.
“We want them to understand that nature is a place to play,” he said. “We belong to it and we are made from it. We have a responsibility to nature to preserve it. Where you feel good and belong, that is your home.”
With an anticipated crowd of 3,000 to 5,000 in attendance, Food for Thought program director Lori Hamor and her crew have brought in local and regional food vendors to feed hungry kids and adults.
Hamor said Rainbow Bridge Natural Food Store, Jim & Rob’s Fresh Grill, Henry’s Frozen Delight Raw Vegan Ice Cream and Liquid Rush Coffee Company will be serving their specialties and then donating a portion of the proceeds back to Food for Thought, which supports nutrition programs in the public schools.
“We’ve taken more than 2,000 students to visit local farms and taught hundreds of classes in nutrition and raised environmental awareness,” Hamor said. “We’re really happy to be involved. I’m the parent of a former Oak Grove student, so I have been involved a lot over the years.”
Another Oak Grove parent, Tami Winbury of the Ojai Valley Lions Club and a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in Ojai, coordinated an expense-paid vacation raffle to Florence, Italy. Formerly a teacher at Monica Ros School, Winbury used connections she made there to create the vacation package. Raffle tickets for the trip are $20 each.
“This is a great day for the community to be together and get involved with a movement of creating a better environment for our children,” Winbury said.
Other prizes include gift packages for golf and dinner at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, a weekend at the Pechanga Resort and Spa in Temecula, and local massages, facials and restaurant certificates, Winbury said.
For more information about Ojai Earth Play, visit ojaiearthday.com. The event is free and open to the public and will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Oak Grove School, 220 W. Lomita Ave. in Meiners Oaks.
OVN staff reports
Valley citizens were dealt a blow Sunday afternoon when two Ojai residents were tragically killed in a traffic collision on West Ojai Avenue north of Villanova Road. Thirty-eight-year-old Sonia Miller and 54-year-old Wayne Ortman lost their lives when their motorcycle collided with oncoming traffic, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and Medical Examiner’s office.
A press release from the VCSD stated that the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, driven by Ortman, was heading southbound on the highway when it collided head-on with a black, two-door Ford Explorer in the northbound lane. Emergency crews arrived on scene and began lifesaving procedures; however, both Miller and Ortman were pronounced dead on scene, according to the report.
Oak View Honorary Mayor and Greg Rents owner Greg Webster said the loss of the two has been deeply felt by the community. “Wayne was instrumental in putting together the Mentor Madness Poker Run. He was the go-to guy,” said Webster. “And Sonia was always a big part of the community too, sponsoring girls for the (Oak View) Beauty Pageant. I’m going to miss those big wet kisses and hugs from Sonia. I’ll miss them dearly.”
Another longtime friend, Joe Albertson, saw the pair less than an hour before the accident. “Gave them both a big ol’ hug and kiss right before. I’ve known Sonia since the fourth grade and we’ve always called each other brother and sister,” he said. “Sonia was the warmest, most caring person you could ever meet in your life. If anybody else would’ve died or been in trouble, she’d be the first to be planning a benefit or fundraiser. I liked to call her my best friend, but then I realized that she had so many best friends. She treated everyone like a best friend.”
Ortman, Albertson added, “had a heart of gold, would do anything for his friends at any given moment. He was such a good dad too. He never ever left once without saying, ‘I love you, Son.’ And he and Sonia had just started dating, and I’ve never seen my ‘sister’ so happy in all my life.”
A memorial is being planned, Albertson said, although details were not available as of press time. He said the family will still gather, as they always have, on April 30 to celebrate Ortman’s birthday. “Now, Sonia will always be a part
California Highway Patrol officers and Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies diverted traffic as both north- and south-bound lanes of Ojai Avenue were closed from 2:20 p.m. until just before 8 p.m., according to sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Paul Higgason.
Authorities said that they are investigating, and no further information on the cause of the collision has been released.
“Because the incident involved fatalities,” said Capt. Chris Dunn, Ojai’s chief of police, “this will be a long, drawn-out investigation. It will take a couple of weeks at least. It was a very tragic scene.”
Anyone having information concerning this collision is asked to call Sr. Deputy James Popp at the Ojai Police Station at 646-1414.
By Nicole O. Tanner
One in three children in the United States are overweight or obese. Being overweight during childhood and adolescence increases the risk of developing serious health problems, including type 2 diabetes and asthma. April 17 through April 23, First 5 Ventura County is sponsoring Good for Kids Restaurant Week in Ojai, as a way of contributing to a solution. Kids eat free at participating restaurants in Ojai when they choose from a special healthy menu (with the purchase of an adult meal). Participating restaurants include: Bodee’s, Bonnie Lu’s, Hip A Vegetarian Joint, Jim & Rob’s Fresh Grill, Los Caporales and Papa Lennon’s.First 5 Ventura County’s Good for Kids Project is aimed at increasing the healthy food options available for young children in restaurants throughout the county. Ojai’s Good for Kids Restaurant Week is a partnership between First 5, local restaurants, Nordhoff High School’s Health Sciences Academy, the Rotary Club of Ojai, Food for Thought, and the Radiance Foundation. Students from Nordhoff’s HSA have played a major role in bringing Good for Kids to Ojai. They identified potential restaurants, collected menus and are getting the word out with fliers and posters throughout the community. They took the project on the road to the statewide Health Occupation Students of America Conference in Sacramento last week, where they made it to the finals and took fifth place. “I’m very impressed with the Health Academy students for making this happen in Ojai,” said Lori Hamor, director of Food for Thought. “Good for Kids fits really well with our nutrition education program in the elementary schools.”First 5 Ventura executive director Claudia Harrison agrees, “When children are learning about healthy foods in their preschool and elementary schools and then have healthy options available in their community, there is a greater chance they will choose to eat healthy foods.” She added, “The launch of Good for Kids in Ojai is a very exciting opportunity for us to partner with local restaurants who are willing to not only offer healthy choices for kids, but also make them free for a week.”The Good for Kids Project was launched in Ventura in February and will be expanding to Oxnard in the coming months. If successful, Good for Kids will become an ongoing program with restaurants becoming “certified” as Good for Kids Restaurants. Being certified means having a kids’ menu with meat and fish cooked in a low-fat method, fruits, vegetables as side dishes, low-fat and low-sugar beverages and healthier dessert options.According to the National Restaurant Association, Americans now spend nearly half of their food dollars on foods prepared outside the home — twice as much as they did in the 1970s. “With so many meals either pre-prepared or prepared in restaurants, we have an opportunity to increase the healthy food options,” said Paulette Lambert R.D., CDE, director of nutrition at the California Health & Longevity Institute, who helps create the menus for the Good for Kids Project. “We know that completely eliminating all of the fat, sugar and salt is not realistic, but if we can cut back on the fried and high fat and sugary options, increase fruits, vegetables and whole grains and serve smaller portions, we can make a difference.”For more information including the list of participating restaurants or how restaurants can become Certified Good for Kids Restaurants, visit first5ventura.org, call 886-0632, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Good for Kids table at the Rotary Club’s Youthfest this Sunday at Libbey Park.
By Matthew Wagner
For the third time in a decade, Nordhoff High School’s band has earned the honor of playing at the prestigious Carnegie Hall. Forty-eight musicians from the Ranger’s wind ensemble and concert band will participate in a festival April 22 at the New York concert venue.But performing on the other side of the country doesn’t come cheap. According to NHS music director Bill Wagner, the trip costs about $1,800 per student. So the band members have hosted fundraisers and concerts over the last year, garnering donations from the community to help with those travel expenses.But to even be eligible to go, a band must receive a “superior” rating at a national festival. Then the band must submit a taped recording. NHS did both of these things in April at a festival in Hawaii. The Carnegie performance will take place at a festival with 18 other bands and orchestras from all over the country. Although four judges will critique the bands’ performances, “This is not a competition; really it is about performing on that stage,” Wagner said. The Rangers will be performing on the main stage and will play five songs: “Circles of Life,” “Arabian Dances,” “The Untitled March,” “Walking Into History” and “1,000 Cranes” (their most demanding musical piece, said Wagner).Nordhoff’s band will be in New York for four days, giving the group ample time for sightseeing. They plan to visit, among other places, the Natural History Museum, and will have the opportunity to see a Broadway musical.Noted Wagner, “The main difference between this time and the other times (we’ve played at Carnegie) will be this is a festival, not just a concert. We will be getting approval from the judges, not just the audience.” He believes it will be a good thing for his students. “The students come back much more mature, they have gained responsibility, and organization. Plus it’s a lot of fun,” said Wagner.
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
Sometimes you get a little miracle in your life. No, I was not told by the IRS I didn’t have to pay my taxes today (or actually Monday this year). Three weeks ago, a friend had a heart attack, precipitated by a blood infection. He was found unconscious, and his breathing was very shallow. He was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. Friends and family were informed by his doctors that the prognosis was not good.
He stayed in a coma for six days, and repeated tests showed that his brain activity was minimal. He was attached to a variety of tubes and was on a ventilator. At one point, he became very agitated, and had to be restrained to the bed.
But gradually, there were hopeful signs —- a squeeze of the hand to someone he recognized; blinking his eyes to show that he understood simple questions.
And then he came out of the coma and was able to speak. We finally knew he was OK when he opened the back of his hospital gown and mooned a friend who was visiting. Thirteen days after entering the emergency room by ambulance, Doug left the hospital under his own steam. It was the answer to a lot of prayers.
For a while, it looked like I would be getting on a plane, putting on my best dark suit, and talking about how much I missed him. Now, I will go visit him and we will swap lies and tell old stories.
While Doug was in the coma, he had a dream or a vision or whatever you want to call it. Some people have described near-death experiences as seeing a light, or moving toward a light. Others have said that they saw friends and relatives who had died years earlier, sometimes beckoning them to come, acting as a guide to shepherd them into another world or dimension.
Doug said he was walking on a beach, listening to a Jimmy Buffet concert. He said he was enjoying himself immensely. But at one point someone told him it was time to go. That’s when he woke up, and came back to his friends.
I have never had a near-death experience. On two separate occasions, while flying in small private planes, I thought I was probably going to die. But I escaped unharmed. If I ever do have a near-death experience, I hope I have one like Doug.
I just hope Jimmy Buffet is playing “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and not “Highway to Hell.”
By Logan Hall
A group of concerned citizens claim that a takeover of Golden State Water Company by Casitas Municipal Water District could save local consumers $1 million in the first year alone.
Due to the continuous increase in Golden State’s water rates in recent years, the group, known as Friends of Locally Owned Water (F.L.O.W.), will focus on convincing Casitas’ board of directors to hold an election among registered voters of the affected area to issue a bond not exceeding $33 million. The bond would cover the cost of the buy-out as well as repairs to Golden State’s infrastructure. According to F.L.O.W. representatives, the bond would be repaid over 30 years or less by a $2.50 surcharge per Ccf (1 Ccf=748 gallons) tacked on to the Casitas water bill for those who are now customers of Golden State. “Your bill will still be much lower even with the surcharge,” said F.L.O.W. spokesman and member Ryan Blatz, addressing Golden State customers at a special meeting on Monday.
Golden State customers are currently categorized by the size of their water meter. Golden State records show that the average Golden State customer has the smallest meter at 5/8 inch and uses about 13 Ccf a month. The company says that the average monthly bill for those customers in 2010 was $59.29. In 2011, the average bill for the same users jumped to $75.57 — a 27.46 percent increase. F.L.O.W. projects that Casitas customers with similar service, would have a monthly bill of $63.75 that would include the $2.50 surcharge.
“Golden State customers pay over twice as much for water as the surrounding communities,” said Blatz.
Golden State claims that rate increases are required for the company to make repairs to the aging infrastructure including water pipelines. Documents published by the California Public Utilities Commission Division of Ratepayer Advocates, however, show that Golden State accumulated $100 million in debt between 2008 and 2010. According to the CPUC — which is responsible for approving rate increases for companies like Golden State — under California state law, those companies have to provide documentation of where they spend the money from said increases. “We very carefully do full audits on allocated money and how they spend that money,” said Rami Kahlon, CPUC’s director of the division of water and audits.
F.L.O.W. representatives are not so sure that Golden State has put the money back into the system properly. “Golden State is a corporation that has a duty to its shareholders to make them money,” said Blatz, who is also a local attorney. “They know how to play the game.”
When asked to comment on F.L.O.W.’s efforts to essentially oust Golden State from Ojai, Ken Petersen, Golden State’s coastal district manager, responded to the OVN with an e-mail statement that read, “Golden State Water Company has been serving the Ojai community for more than 80 years and it is our desire to serve Ojai in the future.” The company refused to answer any further questions.
Some concerns were raised as to whether or not the city of Ojai would have a say in the matter. Golden State currently pays an annual franchise fee — which, according to city records, equaled $42,128 for the 2010 calendar year. However, projections show that the city, which is a Golden State customer, could potentially save thousands of dollars each year. Ojai city manager Rob Clark says the council is concerned about Golden State’s increasing rates, but hasn’t taken a stance yet. “The city doesn’t have any formal position right now,” said Clark, “but we’re not worried about the franchise fee.”
In order for the effort to be a success, F.L.O.W. says they will need to show Casitas that an overwhelming number of Golden State customers in the Ojai area, who are also registered voters, are on board with the idea. For this, F.L.O.W. plans on canvasing the Ojai Valley with petitions. Their goal is to get 2,500 signatures in 30 to 60 days.
On Wednesday afternoon, representatives from F.L.O.W. presented their proposal to Casitas’ board of directors at the board’s regular meeting. Because the topic was presented as public comment, and was not an agenda item, board members and Casitas staff could not discuss the issue. “There isn’t anything that we can take action on at this time,” said Casitas general manager Steve Wickstrum. “This is their effort to move forward.”
There are certain advantages for F.L.O.W. presenting the proposal to Casitas. By federal law, if Casitas accepted the proposal, Golden State wouldn’t have a choice in the matter. Eminent domain laws say that if a government, whether federal, state or local, needs to acquire something for public use, the government entity, in this case Casitas (a public utility) would have a legal right to buy out Golden State. Casitas would have to, by the same law, pay fair market value for the company.
The community of Ojai also has a representative, Russ Baggerly, on the Casitas board of directors who could take the concerns of the community directly to the board. Furthermore, Casitas already has pipelines running through Ojai that could be connected to existing Golden State pipelines, essentially making the transition to Casitas much smoother for the utility and the community itself.
Many current Golden State customers in the Ojai Valley seem to be eager to be involved with the plan. “I’m a huge supporter of this,” said Golden State customer Christine Golden. “My water bill has literally doubled since they did their increases a few years ago.”
Golden, who is a former principal of Matilija Junior High School, and is on the advisory board for the Ojai Education Foundation, says she has an acre of land in Ojai with a few citrus trees, apricots and avocados, among others. “It’s getting really hard to keep it all going,” she said. “At some point you realize you just can’t do it any more. I think that their (F.L.O.W.) effort is really important. This is true democracy at its finest.”
Presenting their plan to Casitas was a big step for the organization and has essentially brought the group’s plan to the public. The group says that anyone interested in finding more information can visit their website at ojaiflow.com. “This is the right time, for the right reason and in the right place for us to act,” said local State Farm branch owner Bob Daddi, who has helped spearhead F.L.O.W.’s efforts. “Golden State will keep trying to raise their rates. When does it stop?”
By Michelaina Smith
Ojai Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Lenehan and his son, Cian — along with Team Ojai — decided that if kids with cancer can go without hair, so can they.The group raised nearly $1,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, putting Team Ojai in fourth place out of 18 teams and 99 participants in the Ventura event. The money benefits child cancer research.Lenehan told friends that if they donated to the organization he would have his hair cut. “I had not grown my hair that long for 25 years,” said Lenehan.Various federal law enforcement officials, Ojai friends and firefighters, fellow UCSB-Sigma Phi Epsilon alumni, and current and former Nordhoff football coaches donated to the cause.Lenehan was one of more than 38,000 males and females who had their heads shaved to show “unity with kids going through cancer.”The Ventura fund-raising event was held at Four Points Sheraton in the Ventura Harbor in late March.”The Ventura event brought in over $24,000 through donations as well as auction items,” said Lenehan.The St. Baldrick’s Foundation has raised over $57 million for cancer research grants over the past five years and already has collected $18 million this year nationwide.A group of mostly firefighters and law enforcement officials founded the organization about five years ago, and it has become the largest provider of child cancer research grants besides the United States government.The fund-raising participants used to shave their heads on St. Patrick’s Day in order to earn donations and thus the name, St. Baldrick. However, other events coincided with the fundraiser, so now they are held later in March.For more information or to make a contribution, visit stbaldricks.org.
By Logan Hall
At least 13 VCFD units including three fire engines from around the valley responded to a house fire on the 100 block of North Alvarado Ave. at around 7:43 p.m. No injuries have been reported as fire crews continue to mop up the scene. ”We had just finished walking our dogs and saw the smoke as we were driving by,” said Gillian Bartley who lives across the street from the home. “We busted out the windows with rocks and started yelling inside. Then we turned the hoses on. We were totally soaking it down until the fire (department) showed up.”
The extent of the damage has yet to be determined as fire investigators arrive on scene to look into the fire’s cause. Officials from the Ventura County Chapter of the American Red Cross are providing aid to the displaced family.
By Logan Hall
Larry Mosler, owner of Mosler Rock Quarry, has dropped his appeal of notices of violation brought by the County of Ventura. The County Board of Supervisors hearing for next week on the matter has subsequently been canceled.
In an e-mail sent to Stop the Trucks! Coalition members, Dan Klemann, of the county’s Planning Division stated, “Mr. Mosler has indicated that he is willing to enter into a compliance agreement with the county to abate the outstanding violations.”
The e-mail further states that the county will draft a “compliance agreement that will specify all of the abatement actions that Mr. Mosler must take to abate the violations, a schedule by which he must complete each abatement action, and a payment plan to pay the outstanding fees that he owes to the county.”
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
In an example of what can only be described as a fanaticism “arms race,” the burning of the Koran at a tiny Florida church set off a protest at a United Nations compound in Afghanistan that killed 11 people. Protests then spread to other areas of the country, adding to the death toll.
Wow, where do you begin? For the church in Florida, holding a mock trial of someone else’s holy book, then finding it “guilty” and burning it is not exactly the best way to demonstrate God’s love — especially just a few weeks from Easter. As for the protestors, there are probably better ways to express that their religion doesn’t promote violence than by holding violent demonstrations in which people are wounded and killed.
Moderates, who comprise the majority of both Christian and Muslim religions, have to be appalled at the stupidity of both actions.
Some of the quotes in the account I read sounded like a script from “Seinfeld.” The article stated that the church’s website called the event “International Judge the Koran Day” (international being hyperbole, since the church has about 50 members) and that “after the five-hour process, the Koran was found guilty, and a copy was burned inside the building.” I don’t know what they found inside the Koran that could possibly be worse than sitting through a five-hour church service. I would have been willing to set my own leg on fire to get out of that.
Later in the article, an assistant at the church was quoted as saying, “We have received a huge stack of death threats.” She went on to say, “We take precautions. I have a handgun. A lot of us have concealed weapons permits.” She added, “We’re a small church and we don’t have money to hire security.”
Maybe they would have a little more money if they started brandishing those weapons during the offertory portion of the service. Maybe fondling the handle of that .44 magnum as you pass the collection plate would encourage folks to dig a little deeper for “the cause.”
On the flip side, the geniuses who organized the violent protest in Afghanistan didn’t do a lot to reassure folks that Islam doesn’t encourage violence against non-Muslims. Can you protest that someone else’s religion puts yours in a bad light, if you show your indignation by taking lives?
This country is fortunate that the founding fathers had the foresight to separate church and state. The Constitution was written to guarantee that freedom of religion would also mean freedom from religion for those who chose it. Mixing government with religion has been a dicey proposition historically. It breeds religious zealotry, and that has bad consequences for all. Religious zealots tend to be wildly intolerant of those who believe differently than they do. When they have the power of the government behind them to enforce their agenda, they use that power to shun, persecute and even kill those who disagree with their beliefs. Historically, it has been detrimental to both religion and government.
In America, it seems the citizens who complain the loudest about infringement upon religious freedom generally have more of it than anyone else in the world. Some wail about not being able to enjoy prayer in school. However, it would seem that they are not seeking to have a prayer, but rather their prayer in school.
Those who would impose religious sanctions on policies and government, including school prayer, would do well to remember the wise observation I once saw on a church sign: “As long as there are math tests, there will always be prayer in school.” Those who wish to pray silently cannot be stopped from doing so; and those who choose not to pray cannot be forced.
Is that system not best for all concerned?
By Sally Rice, OVN intern
One of Ojai’s most beloved citizens, Betty Izant, turned 100 on Monday. Currently a resident of The Gables of Ojai, Izant was the very first paid employee of the Ojai Music Festival, joining the creative team in the late 1960s as a secretary, following a previous career as a dress designer. Izant grew with the festival, later securing the position of box office manager, which she maintained until her retirement.
“Over the years, Betty’s greeted thousands of visitors, and helped them to fall in love with Ojai,” said Jeff Haydon, executive director of the Ojai Music Festival. Haydon, who took time out of his schedule to personally pay a visit to Izant on her special day, delivered a beautiful bouquet of flowers, warm birthday wishes, and hugs.
“I was worried I was going to miss her; I’m so glad I was able to see her today, she’s such an amazing person,” Haydon said. He shared a heartwarming story that is one of Izant’s fondest memories. When the festival was in its infancy, the illustrious composer and conductor Pierre Boulez was visiting the office headquarters during the Ojai Music Festival, when he spotted Izant.
“What do you do here?” Boulez asked the young woman behind the desk.
“I’m the secretary,” she replied.
“Oh, that means you run the place!” Boulez exclaimed. Haydon chuckled recounting the exchange.
He went on to elaborate on Izant’s important contributions to OMF over the years. “Betty’s like a computer. She invented a complex system of tracking ticket sales for the festival, she’s incredible,” Haydon said with a cheerful grin.
Izant was also an award-winning horsewoman in her youth, participating in equestrian events throughout the Ojai Valley. An impressive framed 8-by-10 photo of Izant and her horse — captured in midair as the duo cleared a high jump during a competition in which Izant won a blue ribbon —- is displayed on the living room table.
To celebrate her birthday, The Gables staff organized a trip to the beauty parlor for Izant in the morning, and a birthday party at the noon hour meal. The communal dining room was decorated with a colorful birthday banner celebrating 100. A fresh bouquet of roses cut from the garden was placed before her seat, and pink, blue and white balloons were tethered to her chair. Then, the staff presented her with song and a homemade double-layer chocolate cake with five candles.
“There’s not enough room to put 100 candles,” said a staff member with a smile as she placed the cake so Izant could make her wish.
It was a busy day for a girl turning 100. Smiling and noticeably touched, Izant whispered in awe, “I’m overwhelmed, just overwhelmed.”
By Logan Hall
Advocates of a pesticide- and herbicide-free environment face a similar battle to anti-tobacco advocates. They’re desperately trying to convince the government and chemical companies that certain chemicals used in herbicides and pesticides are directly related to health problems.
Pesticide Free Ojai is beginning to get the attention of local government. They’re working with the city of Ojai, which uses Roundup for weed abatement, to try to eliminate the use of potentially toxic pesticides and herbicides in parks and other areas within the city limits.
The chemical company Monsanto, which manufactures the herbicide Roundup containing the chemical glyphosate, has expert testimony on their website that reads, “Under present and expected conditions of use, Roundup herbicide does not pose a health risk to humans.” As of print time, calls to Monsanto were not returned.
Local doctor and renowned environmental medicine specialist, Robin Bernhoft, M.D., FACS, FAAEM, disagrees with Monsanto. “Glyphosate is associated with certain cancers and neurological problems,” Bernhoft told the OVN. “It’s not going to give everybody cancer, but it will affect those that are susceptible. It’s a problem. A big problem.”
So far, the city has been receptive to the concerns of its citizens. In an e-mail from interim Public Works director Ron Calkins to PFO member Patty Pagaling, the city reaches out and seems open to the organization’s suggestions. “We are supportive of a pilot project that focuses on the elimination of herbicides at Libbey Park,” read the e-mail.
Earlier this week, Pagaling and a team of volunteers began their push to hand pull weeds and spread mulch in the front portion of Libbey Park in an effort to mitigate the use of chemical herbicides in the area. “As soon as we mulch it,” said Pagaling, “the weeds won’t get sunlight for photosynthesis. It’s really going to take care of the problem.”
The city, although being open to ideas and community concerns about herbicides, is playing its hand carefully. City officials want to see the results of PFO’s initial efforts before committing to any long-term assistance from the organization. “We’re doing this on a trial basis right now,” said Ruben Martinez, Public Works manager for the city. “We’ll see how it works and then go from there. They did good though. They were out there for awhile.”
Martinez told the OVN that the city sprays Libbey Park and other city right-of-ways once a year, but will, “occasionally have to go back and spot spray.” Martinez also added that spraying schedules largely depend on the weather, so it’s tough to adhere to set schedules.
The city has scheduled their next spraying in Libbey Park on April 18. Calkins told Pagaling that the city would assess the situation after PFO and its volunteers have had time to work on the area, and will determine if conservative spraying still needs to be done. Pagaling urges the public to join her team near the fountain in Libbey Park on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. to aid in herbicide-free weed abatement.
Whether or not glysophate is harmful to humans is an ongoing debate. Companies like Monsanto have testimony from certain experts that say the chemicals are not harmful, and public perception seems to be that the topic of herbicides is something reserved for “tree huggers” to worry about.
Bernhoft, however, says that more and more studies are showing the ill effects of chemicals used in herbicides and pesticides on humans. “There are a whole lot of doctors and Ph.D.s that have done research and agree that these chemicals are harmful,” he said. “This is mainstream science. A lot of people don’t want to hear this stuff — but if they are exposed, they will suffer.
By Chris T. Wilson
During the coldest months in the Ojai Valley, area homeless residents often turn to the Ojai Valley Homeless Shelter for a warm, dry place to sleep, and a hot meal. And in the last few years, services available to the homeless have gotten another boost — from some well-intentioned bicycle mechanics.On a recent Tuesday evening in March at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 18-year-old Mark Burgess of Oak View spent a few hours with a dozen or so of the valley’s homeless men and women, offering bicycle tune-ups and basic repair instructions. Burgess, who is studying to be an emergency medical technician, works weekends at Project Ride, a bicycle retail store and repair shop in Meiners Oaks.”It was a great opportunity to get out there and help the people whose only transportation is their bicycle,” Burgess said. “It really makes me appreciate what I have and I realize now that they’re some of the most appreciative people I’ve ever met. Some of them I think showed more appreciation for getting some air in their tires than someone we build an entire bike for.”Kelly Pasco, owner of Project Ride, said his shop has been involved in the annual bicycle repair and tune-up project for the past two years. In addition to correcting tire pressure issues, Project Ride donated parts and a few complete, functional used bikes to people in need.”Some of the bikes are in such disrepair that they are just impossible to fix,” Pasco said. “We had a couple of used bikes that we just gave them.”For those who showed an interest in learning, Burgess offered some basic repair tips.”I showed them the basics; brakes and derailleur adjustments,” Burgess said. “Those are the most common problems with most bikes. And we showed them the bolts that always need to be tight and how to make sure they have the correct tire pressure. With this knowledge they can help other people who don’t know how to fix their own bikes.”St. Thomas Aquinas Church member and shelter site coordinator Daniel Hedrick said that the shelter serves about 24 individuals on average during the peak of the winter season in the valley. More than half of those homeless rely on bicycles as their main form of transportation, he said.”We’ve had such a great outpouring of support from the community,” Hedrick said. “We’re really glad that so many individuals and local businesses have gotten involved.”Hedrick said that he’s considering offering the bike tune-up twice per year in the future, once at the beginning of the season in late November or early December and again in the spring just before the shelters close at the end of March. Hedrick also noted that the Ojai Valley Family Shelter is open to accepting donations of complete functional sturdy adult bicycles and adult tricycles. For more information about the Ojai Valley Family Shelter visit ovfs.org or call 804-7094.
Petty thefts drop 10 percent after police step up patrol in problem areas
By Logan Hall
Law enforcement personnel have a tough job. But, a report last month by Chris Dunn, Ojai’s chief of police, indicates that the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department’s efforts seem to be paying off as statistics show a low crime rate in the Ojai Valley, particularly within the city limits.Although the report for crime within the city limits shows that the number of reported violent crimes increased by 12 percent from 17 in 2009 to 19 in 2010, the number of reported crimes against property decreased by 18 percent showing 35 fewer thefts and burglaries in 2010.Dunn indicates that the increase in reported violent crimes was due to a slight increase in aggravated assaults, but that reported rapes and robberies had both decreased with no rapes reported in 2010. As with 2009, there were no homicides reported within the city limits in 2010. “Serious crimes such as homicide, rape and robbery remain at very low levels,” the report states.Dunn credits the department’s deputies for the decrease in property crimes, because of their vigilance with increasing patrols in areas that are problematic. Petty theft, especially from parked cars, was at the top of the list for the department. Dunn said that thieves would go after “targets of opportunity” like an iPod sitting on the seat of a vehicle, and would often smash windows to gain access. After stepping up patrols, reported petty theft decreased by 10 percent.”Our deputies have done a great job,” said Dunn. “Compared with other local jurisdictions, we are doing quite well. We barely register when it comes to violent crimes.”Arrests made within the city limits increased by 89 totaling 522 for 2010. In comparison, 618 arrests were made in unincorporated areas of the valley. Dunn’s report states that most arrests were for “relatively minor violations such as warrants, alcohol violations, etc.” Also outlined in the report were violations of Ojai city municipal codes in 2010. Topping the list of trouble areas was the Ojai Skate Park where 30 citations were written for individuals not wearing specified protective gear while using the park. Drinking in public, along with sleeping or camping in unlawful areas, came in a distant second with 14 citations written for each municipal code. Deputy response times have increased slightly, but still average less than six minutes compared to unincorporated areas of the valley where response times average more than 10 minutes. Dunn noted that statistics from the department’s Narcotics Bureau were not included in the report.