By Logan Hall
The Ojai City Council adopted the city’s 2011-2012 budget at their meeting Tuesday night. The total budget for the next fiscal year is $8.5 million of which $7.8 million will be in the city’s general fund. The remaining $700,000 comes from state agencies like Caltrans and from state funds like the gas tax.
The budget, however, isn’t balanced yet.
The city’s main issue now lies with the transit fund, which has recently increased from $70,000 to $140,000. The federal government has made major cuts to transit budgets across the nation. Ojai has not been spared from those cuts. Gold Coast Transit, which receives federal funding, now has to charge the city $30,000 more to continue services in the city.
The city was also poised to save an additional $40,000 by making cuts to Ojai Trolley personnel hours and services. After hearing testimony from trolley employees at Tuesday’s meeting, however, the council decided to form a committee to figure out the best way to reduce the transit budget or make more revenue by raising fares, without the need to cut trolley operating hours or personnel. “When we put the budget together it was balanced,” city manager Rob Clark told the OVN. “It looks like the transit fund will be $140,000 instead of the original $70,000. This kind of came up last minute so the budget won’t really be resolved until the transit fund gets resolved.”
Clark said that all other areas of city service would remain at current levels, including the city’s new policy of opening City Hall five days a week. “We’ve maintained the status quo in all of our services,” he said. “The one at risk is transit. We really have to sort that one out.”
The council adopted the budget but requested that the transit issue be dealt with before that part of the budget would be implemented.
Local attorney Craig Beam attended Tuesday’s council meeting and weighed in on the city’s budget. “Be cautious,” he said addressing the council. “These are tough times. What the city thinks it may receive from other governmental agencies may not be there at the end of the day.”
Look for a full report on the city’s budget in future issues of the OVN.
By Misty Volaski
Like school boards across California, the Ojai Unified School District finalized its budget for the 2011-2012 school year this week.
Cuts and reductions proposed have remained unchanged since the last budget revision, but much of it is based on educated guesses and projections at the state level. The 2011-2012 California State Budget, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday, closes the state’s $26.6 billion deficit by assuming that $4 billion in revenues will be received during the next fiscal year. Should those revenues come in as planned, the state can protect K-12 education funding, and Ojai schools will get an additional $979,968.
But OUSD staff erred on the side of caution, planning a 2011-2012 budget that excluded those funds — just in case. “We have to wait until January” to know for sure whether Ojai will get that extra money, said OUSD assistant superintendent Dannielle Pusatere. That means that even if the OUSD does get the money, it’ll be too late to do much for the 2011-2012 school year. More likely, those funds will be used in the 2012-2013 school year, as well as to bolster the district’s reserve for economic uncertainties fund (which currently sits at a “considerably low” 1.25 percent).
But should that $4 billion in state revenue fail to materialize, “billions of dollars in additional cuts will be triggered to maintain a balanced budget,” according to a press release posted on Gov. Brown’s website. Hence the OUSD’s reluctance to make that assumption of additional funds.
“We’ve already made cuts (to the 2011-2012 budget) based on the worst-case scenario,” Pusatere said.
“This is worse than last year in terms of the uncertainty,” said OUSD superintendent Hank Bangser, “2010-2011 is right on track. And as distressing as those full-time equivalent cuts were, at least that impact was predictable.”
According to the OUSD 2011-2012 OUSD Budget and Financial Information packet, those cuts include: reducing five full-time equivalent teachers in the elementary schools (one from each elementary school); 0.8 full-time equivalent teachers at Matilija Junior High (one from each teaching section in the four core areas); 2.2 full-time equivalent teachers at Nordhoff High School (reducing 11 classes); 2.25 full-time equivalent classified staff members from the junior high and high school level (such as librarians, secretaries, etc.); combining librarian and lab positions at the elementary level to reduce .8 full-time equivalent classified staff members; and reducing both the classified personnel director and high school assistant principal from full-time to 0.6 FTE. In addition, teachers agreed to take eight furlough days; classified staff took nine; management staff took 10; and superintendent Bangser took 12.
“We made the cuts as equitable as possible. The (staff) understands that we really have no choice. The cuts are smaller (than last year), but we’ve already cut so much, so these are more sensitive,” Bangser said. “We’re cutting more senior people. And the cuts projected for 2012-2013 aren’t pretty at all.”
But news from Tuesday’s meeting wasn’t all dismal. Ojai philanthropist Al Stroberg donated $14,000 to the district to add a new class to the Nordhoff High School elective offerings for 2011-2012. Expanded from last year’s “Better Science Guest Lecture Series,” the Science Ingenuity class offers students a chance to do more hands-on science and will be taught by NHS teacher (and 2001 graduate) Peter Hickok. “The focus of the course is to teach students the process of science as opposed to requiring memorization of outcomes,” explained NHS administrator Greg Bayless in documents submitted to the board. “Students will be required to engage in significant amounts of creative problem solving and experimentation.”
“I’m wildly enthusiastic about this,” Bangser said at Tuesday’s meeting, adding that the donation will cover all costs associated with the class.
“Al Stroberg has a history of caring about our schools,” said Board President Rikki Horne. “He’s passionate about finding paths” to success for local students. “I think we’re really lucky. His kids already graduated but he still cares about our students.”
By Bryan Florer
Once a year, state senators announce a Woman of the Year from their representative districts. On June 22, Sen. Tony Strickland named Ojai’s Esther Wachtell as Woman of the Year for the 19th District. Sen. Strickland stated in a press release: “Esther’s philanthropy work is unparalleled. Her love for the local area and her national humanitarian expertise is the perfect combination for someone truly working toward making a difference.”
Local residents may already be familiar with Wachtell because of her philanthropy work over the past 30-plus years. In Ventura County alone, she has been president of the Ojai Music Festival, director of the Museum of Ventura County, and a volunteer consultant for the campaign to rebuild Libbey Bowl.
Outside of the county, Wachtell chairs the Development Committee for Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and served as founding chair of the Center on Philanthropic and Public Policy at the University of Southern California.
Strickland’s office called Wachtell to tell her they wanted to name her as Woman of the Year. “At first I said no because I was embarrassed,” Wachtell explained, “but my husband convinced me to, so I (accepted)!”
Wachtell is not sure how they came to decide on her as Woman of the Year, but she thinks that it is due to completing a fund-raising campaign for Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. That project, spanning the last 10 years, raised over a billion dollars for the hospital. At the same time, she was able to help raise more than $4 million for Ojai’s new Libbey Bowl. She showed enthusiasm for the more than 1,000 families in Ojai that helped to make the Libbey Bowl a reality.
That may be because it reflects one of her own life lessons. While talking about how she got started in this line of work, Wachtell said, “I have always believed that if you really want things to get done you just have to do it yourself.”
Nature of Incident: Commercial Burglary
Location: Ojai Valley
Date: June 25, 2011
Unit Responsible: Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Ojai Substation Detectives and Patrol units.
Arrestees: City of Residence: Age:
Kurt Rothfuss, 22, Ojai
On 06/26/2011 at about 3 P.M. the Meiners Oaks Elementary School reported a burglary at their school. A classroom had been broken into and property was stolen from it. The deputy who responded to the call was able to collect evidence pertaining to the burglary including the suspect’s personal cellular phone, which was found inside the classroom he broke into. Surveillance video shows the suspect wearing the red backpack, which he stolen out of the classroom. The suspect was identified through a joint investigation involving station detectives and patrol deputies. On 06/29/2011, deputies went to the suspect’s house where they conducted a probation search and located the stolen red backpack with other stolen property. The suspect was arrested and the stolen property was recovered.
Officer Preparing Release: Det. Mark Burgess
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
A recent study showed that the use of negative images increases retention for subjects learning new information. The study concluded that when those who gave a correct answer to a question were reinforced by viewing a photo of something unpleasant, their recall increased dramatically. Among the images used were a pointed gun, a dead cat, and a dental exam.
Well, I don’t know about the dead cat or the pointed gun, but the photo of the dental exam would certainly get my attention in a hurry. In fact, if you told me that memorizing something would allow me to skip my next dental exam, I would gladly recite the Declaration of Independence backward in Chinese. It pains me to admit how much of a major league baby I am when it comes to going to the dentist. Yes, I go regularly, but I hate every minute of it. I have outgrown a lot of things, including my favorite suit and my belief in the Easter bunny. But I have never outgrown my sincere dread of a trip to the dentist.
When I was a child, I cried all the way to the dentist’s office. Once there, I screamed the entire time I was in the chair —- even before the shots or drilling started. After many years I have now reached a point where I only scream internally. This is what passes for dental progress for me.
Now I am not crazy about going to any physician and do not know anyone outside of my late Aunt Susie who ever relished going to the doctor, period. In her case, I think Aunt Susie just enjoyed getting out of the house and was grateful for any conversation with someone other than her husband. If you had known my uncle, you could certainly understand why. My Uncle Claud (no “e” on the end) was an exceptionally joyless man who seemed to receive little pleasure out of anything in this life. He was a Baptist minister whose sermons were crammed so full of fire and brimstone they left little room for anything as frivolous as a passing reference about Christian concern or God’s love.
But given the choice between undergoing a dental exam versus enduring one of Uncle Claud’s sermons, I would take the sound of hellfire and damnation over high-speed drills every time.
My current dentist is a very competent and caring man. He is service-oriented. His staff is well-trained, friendly and professional. His office is lovely and has obviously been assembled to project a soothing atmosphere for the patient.
All of this has zero effect on me. I would still rather face a firing squad than have my teeth cleaned. My tombstone will likely read, “At least I’m not at the dentist.”
On a much brighter note, when I came into town late Monday night, I saw that chairs were already out on the street in anticipation of the city’s upcoming Fourth of July celebration. I am cranked about the parade.
I wish everyone who reads this a very Happy Fourth of July —- even those who are dentists.
By Logan Hall
After months of discussing the management of Libbey Bowl without taking action, the city of Ojai finally made a decision at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Entering into a temporary, one-year agreement with the Ojai Valley Service Foundation, the City Council voted to sign a contract that will give the foundation control over all aspects of Libbey Bowl events. The foundation will be responsible for shelling out money to pay for everything from maintenance to the hiring of a bowl manager according to the agreement. The fact that the foundation allocated the funding to pay for the bowl’s start-up costs seemed to be the kicker with the city. City staff had expressed many times that the city did not have the funds for start-up costs.
“An anonymous donor stepped forward,” said Barney Barnhart, service foundation president, regarding where the funds came from. “They said they would pay the salary of a new director for up to three years.”
City manager Rob Clark told the council that the bowl might still be able to host a few commercial events, but the window had closed on booking most events for the remainder of this year. Although a 2011 season at the bowl is all but lost, city staff believed that the council needed to act swiftly in contracting management for the bowl if there was to be any hope in salvaging a 2012 season.
With much of the community having contributed to make the more-than-$3-million project happen, the city was under pressure to get the ball rolling on the operations of the bowl. “The 2012 season needs to be booked this fall,” Clark told the council in an administrative report, “and the city does not have the capacity to manage commercial events.”
The plan is to have the Service Foundation form a board of directors consisting of its members that will make up the Libbey Bowl Foundation, which will make decisions regarding the bowl, ultimately hiring someone to manage bowl operations. The council expressed the need to see the Libbey Bowl Foundation obtain 501c(3) status as a nonprofit organization. Councilwoman Carlon Strobel asked to have the necessity of the Libbey Bowl Foundation becoming a nonprofit included in the contract. Clark assured the council that the agreement would not go into effect until the foundation obtained the 501c(3).
The contract stipulates that the city will not charge the foundation any fees for use of the bowl and will not receive any money from bowl event profits. The agreement, however, does state that $2 from every ticket will go into a Libbey Bowl maintenance fund to ensure the foundation will be able to properly fund maintenance. “It’s going to be much more than that,” said Barnhart, who is also on the list of Libbey Bowl Foundation board members. “We’re a nonprofit organization and everyone is a volunteer. Every single penny that comes in will go straight to the bowl.”
Although profits from the bowl will not be going directly into city coffers, Ojai does stand to save money on upkeep of the bowl. Currently, the city’s Public Works Department takes care of the bowl’s maintenance before and after events at the city’s expense.
The city did agree to let the Libbey Bowl Foundation use the office at the bowl to conduct business. Clark indicated that because that office doesn’t have proper air conditioning yet, the foundation would be allowed to use office space at City Hall for their administrative needs. The council expressed some concern over the foundation’s eventual use of the office at the bowl.
“As far as utilities, water, power, heating, air conditioning …,” commented Strobel, “the foundation, I believe, should be responsible for those items.”
Clark stressed to the council that the contract was for one year and the council could make changes down the road depending on how the plan works out. “… this is a one-year agreement with a one-year extension,” Clark reminded the council, “so to the extent that there’s anything that needs to be corrected or adjusted … there’s an opportunity to do that before you consider the extension to the second year.”
Nature of Incident: Robbery
Location: Ojai Valley
Date: June 25, 2011
Unit Responsible: Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Ojai Substation Detectives and Patrol Units.
Arrestees: City of Residence: Age:
Rosalba Hernandez, 24, Oak View
Ismael Lopez 28, Oak View 28
On 06/25/2011 at about 2100 hours a robbery occurred in the Ojai Valley. Two suspects at a local liquor store met the victim and eventually gave the victim a ride. They drove east on Hwy 150 towards Santa Paula. At some point on Hwy.150, the suspects pulled the vehicle over and the female asked the victim for his wallet. The victim refused to give the female suspect his wallet. The female suspect then pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the victim. She told him again to give her his wallet and money. The victim then gave the female his wallet. The female suspect then told the victim to get out of the vehicle. Once he was out of the vehicle, the suspects drove away east on Hwy 150 towards Santa Paula. A Good Samaritan gave the victim a ride back to Ojai where he reported the crime.
Through the investigation, both suspects were identified. On 06/26/2011, the female suspect was stopped in front of her residence by deputies and arrested for the robbery and being under the influence. On the morning of 06/27/2011, detectives and deputies searched the female suspect’s residence and found the male suspect who was driving the vehicle during the robbery. He was then arrested. Both suspects were booked into the Ventura County Sheriff’s Main Jail without incident.
Officer Preparing Release: Det. Mark Burgess
Timothy Williamson, M.D., sits behind an enormous desk in his office on Church Road, surrounded by tall stacks of medical files while nurses and staff members dart back and forth in fast gear. It’s early afternoon on Thursday, and Dr. Williamson has already finished his shift at the hospital, and now he’s back at the office ready to see patients for the remainder of the afternoon.
Williamson is a pediatric physician, and for more than 30 years he has been the sole resource in the valley, responding to emergency room calls for virtually all pediatric trauma and illnesses that occur when on-duty emergency room physicians need help on severe cases. It’s a significant piece of the (community) pie, since technically, pediatric medicine covers children from birth through 18 years of age. That’s a lot of patients to monitor.
Ojai has been Williamson’s sole base for his family practice. Raised in Colorado and educated at the University of Washington with a doctorate in neuro-physiology, Dr. Williamson says he wound up in Ojai “on a fluke.” After completing his medical residency at Harbor General, UCLA, he came to Ojai, and met his future wife, Mary Anne, a family nurse practitioner specializing in women’s health. Together they established their practice here.
In addition to his private practice as a pediatrician, Williamson’s other area of specialty is with disabled children and the developmentally handicapped. He has been a consultant for California Children’s Services for more than 30 years, providing monthly clinics and pediatric consultations for children who have multiple developmental problems ranging from cerebral palsy to special genetic problems.
When asked if there are any special situations or a unique time that stands out in his career as a pediatrician here in Ojai, Williamson responds, “I’ve certainly had cases in the E.R. that have been with everyone doing an outstanding job, resuscitating a child, but we’ve also had cases where kids didn’t make it, and those are always tragic.
“The biggest thing I can think of in my career, when I first came to town, is that there wasn’t much of a newborn critical care service available, and I realized then that if I were going to be around here for very long, I needed to work with everybody who was delivering and taking care of newborns to make sure we had a program in place whereby we could take care of anything (any form of emergency) we were delivered.”
“This was back in the day when there were no neonatal resuscitation courses available, so I developed one for Ojai. I worked with the O.B. physicians as well as the nurses that cared for babies, and we developed a program that the Academy of Pediatrics eventually created as a neonatal resuscitation course that is now taught to anybody who deals with newborns. But in those days they didn’t have a course, so we developed a neonatal resuscitation cart, and we trained physicians and nurses how to stabilize and treat critical newborns at the time of delivery.”
Williamson developed what could be considered a “level 2″ hospital nursery in Ojai, which means they could take care of and stabilize almost any baby, any size, at least far enough to be able to transport, as well as care for many who didn’t need to be transported.
“We had a system in place, and a special cart, with all of the proper emergency equipment on it, and everyone was trained, so we could all work in harmony to make sure that a baby was resuscitated as quickly as possible, and got whatever intervention was needed.”
Skip to the present. One of two projects that Williamson will work hardest on in the next year involves childhood nutrition, working with the schools to help combat childhood obesity. “Childhood obesity has become a major health problem, if not the No. 1 health problem in children. Obese children become obese adults, and that leads to cardiac problems, diabetes, joint problems, and their quality of life is just not good.”
The second venture involves a county resource program called First 5 which works with families on a day-to-day basis, to address social, medical, and developmental issues that may occur to families under stress, or who are struggling.
“Sometimes in situations like that, the kids get left behind, so this program attempts to help families out with these needs, including autism, during the first five years of childhood development,” Williamson says.
Finally, if that weren’t enough to warrant the award as an Ojai Living Treasure, Williamson and his wife, Mary Anne, have been ardent supporters of the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation, an organization that focuses on pre-teen and high school students, trying to make sure they have projects and activities that keep kids moving in the right direction.
“They set up all sorts of projects, such as giving financial assistance to kids who are musically inclined, anything that might help kids feel some kind of success, these are the projects they support, and they work very hard at it.”
How does Williamson feel about receiving this recognition from his community? “The treasure award is something that doesn’t last a year, it’s just something we do for the entire time we’re a part of the community. It’s like, Nan Tolbert didn’t set up her birth resources center with hopes of becoming a Living Treasure, she was so dedicated to women, mothers, breast-feeding, and healthy starts, she would have done anything to make sure babies got a good start.”
Dr. Williamson, like so many other treasures, regards the impact of his contributions to our community with selfless humility, topped with an air of nonchalance as he judges himself to be more of a team player among many concerned, conscientious citizens and colleagues. As with all Living Treasures, together they combine to make a harmonious humble pie.
Part of what makes Ojai beautiful is Tom Bostrom. From his work as a landscape architect to his pro bono work planting trees in the community, Bostrom wants to make Ojai a better place.
Bostrom came to Ojai in 1972 after dropping out of college to explore the world.
“It was the ‘70s, it was the thing to do,” he said about his travels. “My first view of Ojai was from Dennison Grade and I was struck by the beauty of the place.”
While visiting the Theosophical Society at Krotona Hill, Bostrom learned that the gardener had died the night before. He quickly took the job and so began his residency in Ojai.
In 1980 Bostrom started doing landscape work in the valley. After gaining years of experience, Bostrom decided to go back to school, studying landscape architecture at UCLA. He became registered as a landscape architect and in 1998 started his own landscape architecture firm, Bostrom & Associates.
As a landscape architect, Bostrom has worked on some of the most well-known parts of Ojai. He was a member of the team that redesigned the Pergola in downtown Ojai, as well as a key influence in the creation of Cluff Vista Park. He also designed Rotary Park near the “Y,” and the “Welcome to Ojai” sign.
“It is always a team effort,” Bostrom said. “It takes many people to accomplish projects like these.”
Bostrom has also designed landscapes for many of the private schools in Ojai Valley, including The Thacher School, Villanova, Ojai Valley School and St. Thomas Aquinas Church.
“I am very proud of the work I have done with Thacher School,” Bostrom said. “We have had a great relationship over the time I have worked with them.”
One of the memorable projects Bostrom has been part of was the makeover of the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Bostrom designed a pool and spa adjacent to Spa Ojai as well as several areas around the property.
But his work in beautifying the community does not stop with his landscape architecture. For years Bostrom has been helping to increase the number of trees in Ojai as well as working on keeping the current tree populace healthy.
Beginning in 2000, Bostrom chaired the Tree Committee, which was made up of people in the community who were concerned with the state of the trees in Ojai. Together they created a master plan that worked to increase the population of trees as well as take care of the aging tree population. After much hard work the city adopted the Tree Committee’s goals. Bostrom then went on to create a task force of volunteers to plant trees locally.
“Slowly but surely I gathered a core of volunteers and in 2008 started the Neighborhood Forester Program,” Bostrom said.
So far this group has planted around 500 trees in the community, a number Bostrom hopes will keep growing.
“The Neighborhood Forester Program answers a need people have to make a difference in their community,” he said. “People can help the environment right in their neighborhood.”
As for the future, Bostrom hopes that the tree plantings will continue through 2050, continuing to benefit the Ojai Valley.
“Trees are part of the ambiance of Ojai,” Bostrom said. “People like me come here for the beauty and trees are a big part of that.”
By Sally Rice
A small group of environmental activists and residents of Rancho Matilija gathered for brunch Saturday at the home of Alanna Tarkington to celebrate a two-year program implemented by locals (in collaboration with the homeowner’s association) to help turn their neighborhood “green.” The primary focus of many concerned Rancho Matilija residents has been to reduce the use of pesticides for weed abatement, and to modify the timing and methods of clearing brush from undeveloped lots in the neighborhood and surrounding landscapes —- all with the purpose of reducing risk and mortality to wildlife in the area.
Joining the Ojai group was Wayne Pacelle, CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States, who was in Ojai as part of a national book tour for his New York Times best-seller, “The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them.” After his Rancho Matilija tour, Pacelle visited Primavera Gallery in downtown to hold a reception and book signing.
“My greatest passion is working to protect animals,” Pacelle said. “I wanted to come and see what these great folks were doing here. I heard about their work in anti-poisoning and I wanted to get a bit more insight.”
Tarkington, a dedicated environmentalist and volunteer, collaborated with her neighbor, screenwriter and fellow activist Melanie Wizan, to organize the brunch. It culminated in a short field trip to the residence of Jim and Dotty Combs to view the owl boxes they and other neighbors placed in trees surrounding their property on MacDonald Drive to encourage the nocturnal creatures to nest and hunt in the area. The purpose? To naturally inhibit the growing rodent population through natural predators such as owls and hawks — -eliminating the need for traps and toxic poisons.
“The residents of Rancho have taken some extraordinary measures to save the balance of nature in their community,” said Tarkington. “We border both the Nature Conservancy and the National Forest. We worked with the board to remove all the poison pellet poles on the trails, which was for the rats and ground squirrels, but ended up killing many secondary species — bobcats, hawks, owls, etc. — who would get secondary poisoning.”
Lindy Goetz, vice president of the Rancho Matilija Property Owners Association and husband to environmentalist Cristin Goetz, shared his support of the efforts the community has made to help reduce risk to wildlife in the community while complying with brush clearance regulations. The RMPOA worked together with the Ojai Raptor Center and the Department of Fish and Game to stop “disking” empty lots in their community.
“We have empty lots that need to be cleared each year,” Goetz explained. “In the past, we used to disk the land, which disrupted and destroyed the nests of the red-winged blackbirds and other animals. But now, we mow instead.” Disk clearing involves a form of rototilling, upsetting the habitat of ground squirrels, gophers, birds and other animals that nest in the brush. Concerned citizens, including Berkeley Meigs, who has “worked for the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network forever,” also described how extending the brush clearance date to the very end of May in order to wait for the red-winged blackbirds to migrate has saved the lives of the birds and their offspring.
“Ultimately, (methods like these) are less expensive, and a better choice,” Pacelle said of the Rancho Matilija efforts. “The real costs are borne by all the creatures that die a miserable, long, protracted death. We’re better than this as a species. We don’t need to treat animals like they’re so expendable. We need to respect all life forms. Ultimately, when people are presented a choice, they’ll usually opt for the best one, and this community action is proof of that.”
Also among the guests of environmentalists attending the brunch was 17-year-old Alec Loorz of Oak View, founder of Teens Against Global Warming, (a nonprofit group supported by Al Gore) who, despite his young age, has made the protection of wildlife and nature his primary mission and career focus. Loorz was recently recognized by the National Wildlife Federation and was given a $10,000 scholarship to continue his work.
According to Monique Dedinas, who is on the architectural and landscape committee for Rancho Matilija, the alternative program is working. Red-tailed hawks are on the increase, and the blue herons are eating the rodents like crazy. “We even have a bald eagle!” exclaimed Tarkington.
“A program like this one, when it’s successful, can become a blueprint for other communities to follow,” added Pacelle. “It’s the best form of civic activism, when communities ban together to show a better way, and that’s what they’ve done. They’ve restored the predators to be nature’s rodenticides — rather than poisoning the rodents and having the poison cycle through the food chain. This is the way nature knows how to maintain a balance.”
By Chris T. Wilson
An Ojai mom who was moving across town had a lot of stuff to give away and found that it was a challenge getting the word out —- so she harnessed the power of online social networking.
When Barbara Amador Keenan moved with her husband, Sean, and son Hunter from downtown Ojai to Meiners Oaks a few months ago she decided to start a Facebook group to give away things she didn’t need anymore. The group is called Ojai Unconditional Give or Take and in less than half a year, supported by the friendliness of the community, the idea is really catching fire.
Now, at nearly 500 members and growing, UGoT is the place on Facebook where group members can offer a free TV or love seat or receive a basket of Meyer’s lemons or a kids’ bike. The point is, no money is exchanged.
“I thought it would be me and about 30 friends exchanging kids’ clothes,” Keenan says. “Then a lot of people got on board and it started to grow. It’s a very grass-roots kind of thing and a nice little community builder.”
To help guide the group, Keenan wrote the following intention: We, as a group, have all that we need. The intention of Ojai Unconditional Give or Take is to move these things around to the places they are needed most. Feel free to post the items you have and are willing to give away, or the items you wish to find. Please refrain from postings that involve a money exchange, advertising, bartering or trading.
More than 1,000 individual listings have been posted to group page, trading everything from free poetry to musical instruments to pets that need new homes. Others post looking for things that they want like a bicycle or television.
And the idea has spread beyond Ojai, Keenan says. Similar groups have sprung up in Austin, Texas, Portland, Ore., Sacramento, and Santa Barbara. Former Ojai resident Sally Kopf started a group in New Hampshire and there’s a group starting in Lompoc, and possibly even Australia, Keenan says.
“I think Ojai is special; because of its size, this works really well here,” Keenan says. “This kind of thing wouldn’t work in L.A. because it’s too big, but it could be built up in the neighborhoods.”
Occasionally someone will post something that borders on advertising or a veiled request for money either for products or services, so Keenan as moderator, will remove the post or restate the intention of the group. With this happening though, it has spawned two other Facebook groups. The Ojai Barter Bin allows people to offer trades of items or services, and the Ojai Community Network is for people who want to promote themselves and make money, Keenan says.
On Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. the group is having a get-together at The Village Jester for members to meet up and discuss ideas, Keenan says. A newly formed band, Sister Eclipse, will perform for the event.
“I haven’t met most of these people in person so I’m really looking forward to it,” Keenan says. “This has made Facebook really exciting for me. I love going on there and seeing how this group is growing. It’s really brought a lot of joy to my life. It’s nice to know that we have everything that we need and don’t have to go anywhere else for it. That’s exciting.”
If you have a Facebook account and would like to join the group, you can use the search box to find the group and then click the button requesting to be added to the group. Another member or moderator can approve your request and get you started on giving, taking, bartering and networking.
By Logan Hall
Growers and enthusiasts are getting ready for the eighth annual Ojai Valley Lavender Festival. Showcasing all of the many uses of the lavender plant, the festival once again brings the well-known purple flower to Libbey Park —- often in ways people never thought possible.
Besides displaying and selling the cut and potted lavender plants, vendors will be utilizing the flower for everything from personal care products to cooking. “It adds a whole new dimension to a lot of dishes,” said Karen Evenden, who owns and operates New Oak Ranch in Upper Ojai with her husband, Bill. New Oak specializes in lavender plants and products and will be participating in the festival again this year. “We’ll have a lot of fresh lavender plants for sale that people can transplant in their own yards. We’re really excited about it,” said Karen Evenden.
Festival organizers have plenty of entertainment lined up for this year’s event. Among others, renowned musicians like guitarists Dan Wilson and Dano Moreno are set to perform, and local favorites Smitty West and Julija Zonic will also be on hand to provide live entertainment. Returning again this year is the Lynn Mullins Pickup Band with their stand-up bass, steel guitar and harmonica playing that is sure to have feet tapping and hands clapping during their performance.
Folks in attendance can also purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win two tickets to the 2012 Rose Parade in Pasadena. Raffle ticket holders will also have the chance to win a copy of the “Lavender Ojai Style” cookbook that includes a basket of lavender items. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the David Mason Scholarship fund that helps those who will be active in an education program that focuses on agriculture relevant to the Ojai Valley, according to the festival’s website.
“This is going to be the best Lavender Festival yet,” said Lisa Meeker, the festival’s marketing director. “We’ve got great speakers lined up like local landscape designer Jessica Thompson who will show people how to plant lavender in their garden. The park is going to be bustling!”
Also on hand to help educate attendees on the many uses of lavender will be keynote speaker Jennifer Vasich. Author of the book, “The Lavender Gourmet,” Vasich will bring her expertise to teach people how to use lavender in the kitchen.
The event will be held tomorrow in Libbey Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free parking will be available at the former Ford dealership on Ojai Avenue near the “Y” intersection with free shuttle service to Libbey Park.
By Logan Hall
Ojai City Hall is opening its doors a little wider to the public for the first time in 18 years. Starting July 1, it is the city’s goal is to have staff available from every department five days a week, getting rid of the four-day workweek that the City Council instituted in 1993.
A press release from the city manager’s office stated that the new schedule was requested by the current council to help improve customer service at City Hall. The challenge for the city lies in executing the new schedule without increasing costs. The plan calls for current City Hall staff to be spread out so someone from each department is available every business day, which will again include Fridays.
However, staff will still maintain their 36-hour workweeks. City manager Rob Clark showed the council that, while bumping up staff workweeks to 40 hours would mean more employees would be available at any given time on any given work day, the cost for such an increase would have meant the city would end up shelling out an additional $250,000 a year in salaries and benefits. With the state the city’s budget is in, an increase of that nature is not a possibility.
“Our goal is to make it as convenient as possible to transact business with the city,” said Clark in the press release, “and our challenge is to do that without placing any burden on the budget.”
While citizens who need city services will be covered Fridays, the schedule could become problematic if fewer city employees are available throughout the week. “If we spread out our staff,” Clark told the OVN, “there’s a chance that who they need to talk to won’t be here. We’ll evaluate it down the line to see if it becomes a problem. If we need to adjust it, we’ll do what we have to do. We’re definitely in experimental mode.”
Many people have criticized the city over the years for closing its doors on Fridays, but Clark says the council made the decision to reduce staff hours in ’93 to reduce costs. “Originally, the reduction in the schedule was done to save money,” he said. “The (current) council has been trying to find a way to cover Fridays for awhile though. This is the best option we could think of.”
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
Yes, just when you think that California cannot be any more unfriendly to business, irresponsible people and their litigators are seeking to hit the courthouse lottery by filing a series of lawsuits against large chain stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Banana Republic, and Home Depot. These suits do not address legitimate workplace concerns such as worker safety, harassment or discrimination. Rather, the lawsuits target giant retailers for failing to provide “suitable seating” for cashiers and other workers who generally spend most of the day on their feet.
The suits use an obscure 2009 provision of the labor code that states: “All working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats. When employees are not engaged in the duties of their employment and the nature of the work requires standing, an adequate number of suitable seats shall be placed in reasonable proximity to the work area and the employees shall be permitted to use such seats when it does not interfere with the performance of their duties.”
This sounds innocuous enough at first glance. After all, who wouldn’t be in favor of making it a little easier on workers who must be on their feet all day? The problem is that pesky old thing known as reality. Being competitive dictates that most stores need workers to perform a variety of duties. In many stores, cashiers also have other duties including inventory, stocking shelves, cleaning, etc. Employers need their workers actively engaged in the business, not sitting in a chair.
How do you apply this ruling equally? Cashiers in grocery stores often help bag customer groceries. How do you do that from a chair? Cashiers in fast-food restaurants must move back and forth between the cash register and the kitchen to process customer orders. Do you offer them a wheelchair so they can roll back and forth between stations? If not, is it fair for a cashier at Wal-Mart to sit down all day while a cashier at McDonald’s stands?
Some of the lawsuits seek to expand this issue beyond full-time cashiers to almost every other employee in the building. My question is with everyone sitting down, how does any work get done?
Clerks in retail stores have stood for centuries. Why the sudden need for everyone to sit down? And why would you pass such a stupid provision in the middle of a recession? When California’s already unfriendly business climate is driving jobs to other states, the last thing we need to one more reason to hinder commerce —- especially at a time the state needs the revenue the most.
Unfortunately, this is an example of people who have no business knowledge legislating how businesses should be run. Their hearts may be in the right place, but their heads seem to be stuck somewhere else.
In theory, it would be nice to allow people to sit down all day at work. In theory, it would be much more pleasant if coal miners didn’t have to go below ground into the mines. But that is where the coal is. And that is how the real world works.
Ten suspects were arrested Tuesday between 4 and 10 p.m. in multiple Ojai Valley locations. All suspects were arrested for alleged probation or parole violations and listed their residences as Ojai.
Allison Mills, 30
Ashley Ryan, 27
Shannon Barrett, 24
Adrian Velasco, 51
Ricardo Lozano, 29
Devin Karmidas, 25
Alex Drost, 47
Alexander Beirne, 30
Yvonne West, 43
On Tuesday night, 14 deputies from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office conducted a 6-hour probation and parole sweep in the City of Ojai and surrounding areas The deputies went to more than 100 residences and made 10 arrests for narcotics related offenses. The variety of narcotics charges include being under the influence of a controlled substance, possession for sales of narcotics, and possession of paraphernalia used to ingest narcotics.
The probation and parole searches were conducted as part of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office ongoing proactive enforcement to reduce crime in the communities it serves.
Deputy Preparing Media Release:
Sgt Bill Schierman
By Logan Hall
Barbecue enthusiasts from all over the valley are gearing up for the 39th annual St. Joseph’s Health and Retirement Center benefit barbecue Sunday. Folks can expect a generous portion of tri-tip, chicken, potato salad and garlic bread and plenty of entertainment.
Although there’s going to be plenty of food and activities, the barbecue isn’t all about fun and games. The proceeds from the event will go toward funding much-needed repairs and upgrades to St. Joe’s. “Every year we have a goal to meet that will make the hospital nicer,” said Vickie Odle, admissions coordinator for St. Joe’s. “This year, the money will go toward refurbishing some of our day room.”
Odle says that the day room at St. Joe’s is the gathering place for the center’s residents. “The day room is where they do the majority of their activities,” she said. “We want to make it a better environment for the elderly.”
Although the food is one of the main draws of this event, those who are planning on attending can look forward to activities and live music that will cater to the whole family. This year’s main acts are a musical performance by local group Action Down, and the cultural authenticity of the Aztec dance group, Danza Azteca Tonalli.
“If people don’t want barbecue,” said Odle, “they don’t have to buy a barbecue ticket. They can still come and have a glass of wine and enjoy some live music or our silent auction.”
St. Joe’s garnered the help of the community this year, and several local merchants have donated items for the silent auction. “We got some really nice stuff for the silent auction this year,” said Odle. “We got a lot of local businesses to donate some really beautiful things. We really appreciate the town’s support.”
Tickets for the barbecue are $18 in advance or $20 at the door and children younger than 12 are $8 presale or $10 at the door. The event will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday. For more information call 646-1466.
By Misty Volaski
Saturday, Ojai’s Primavera Gallery is going to the dogs — and cats, chickens, owls, and mountain lions. Primavera owners Khaled and Sheryl Al-Awar will host a reception and book signing for Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, this Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. Pacelle will also be touring Rancho Matilija, where residents banded together to successfully stop the use of toxic rodenticides which were killing off many more animals than intended. “It’s not possible to restrict (the toxins) to animals you’re trying to remove,” Pacelle said. “It cycles through the food chain. But people are becoming more aware of the ripple effect of rodenticides and other poisons used to kill wildlife. I’m looking forward to learning more about it (Rancho Matilija’s efforts).”
The Al-Awars are excited to offer locals an opportunity to meet the president of the world’s biggest group for animal protection. “We feel really privileged to have Mr. Pacelle come to the gallery to speak with the public, to do a book signing,” Khaled Al-Awar said. “He is a man of such heightened awareness.”
Pacelle’s Saturday visit to the valley is part of a national book tour for “The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them,” which has recently been on The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times best-seller lists. Available for purchase and signing at the gallery Saturday, the book discusses the many aspects of the human-animal bond, from its history, to animal abuse, to those who’ve joined the fight to stop the cruelty. Pacelle also discusses the “great and growing possibilities of a humane economy — the new industries and practices that can thrive as we cast off old and cruel ways.”
More than 10 billion animals are slaughtered for food each year, Pacelle added. “Most are raised on factory farms, confined to cages and crates barely large enough (to house) the animals. I don’t care if you’re vegan, vegetarian or an inveterate carnivore, treating animals in this way is just wrong. We now know so much about animals’ capacity to suffer, about the complexity of their emotions. We know too much to just treat them as a bunch of economic opportunities. We need to find new ways to conduct business.”
Pacelle’s book has received praise from many sources, including Jane Goodall, who said, “‘The Bond’ is rich with fascinating, sometimes deeply moving, sometimes deeply disturbing descriptions of our relationship with our fellow animals. It is thought-provoking, and for some it will be thought-changing. If the animals knew about this book they would, without doubt, confer on Wayne their highest honor.”
“Whether it’s a subarctic nursery of newborn seals before the hunters come,” Pacelle says in his book, “or a herd of elephants about to be ‘culled,’ or dogs and cats at the end of their allotted time at the shelter and deemed too costly to keep alive, always their fate depends on our forbearance and our compassion.”
Pacelle said earlier this week that being a compassionate consumer starts with awareness, and that small changes in one’s life can make a big difference. “Think about your food choices; choose to buy cage-free eggs,” he said, offering other simple tips such as “supporting organizations like the Ojai Raptor Center or Humane Society, that are really leading and driving change — leadership is so needed in order to change dynamics. Also, not only should you spay and neuter, but get your dog or cat from a shelter or rescue group; don’t patronize puppy mills. We can solve our pet over-population problem by adopting our way out of it and spaying and neutering. It’d be so easy if people just followed simple principles.”
For more information on Pacelle’s visit to the Ojai Valley, call Primavera Gallery at 646-7133.
By Lenny Roberts
On May 22, 2010, 15-year-old Patrick James O’Brien was found dead of an overdose of heroin in the family home. A four-month investigation by narcotics officers and detectives from the Ojai Sheriff’s substation led to the arrest of 22-year-old Craig Steven Anderson following numerous witnesses interviews and an extensive surveillance conducted in the Ojai Valley and the city of Ventura. Anderson was arrested Oct. 27 in the area of Franklin and Montgomery streets.
On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Edward F. Brodie sentenced Anderson to seven years in the California Correctional Facility in Wasco.
In May, Anderson pleaded guilty to charges that included providing heroin to a minor with an enhancement that the victim was at least four years younger than the adult; and the Court determined Anderson has a history of drug abuse, was convicted of a drug offense, or was under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance at the time of the commission of the offense. The court further recommended that Anderson participate in a counseling or educational program.
In a written statement following Anderson’s arrest, Sheriff’s Major Crime’s Unit Sgt. Joe Evans said the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department will “continue its commitment to protect kids and their families from those responsible for supplying controlled substances to the youth in our communities.”
O’Brien attended the Montessori School of Ojai, Monica Ros School, Ojai Christian Academy, Matilija Junior High School and Nordhoff High School.
Nature of Incident: Battery with Serious Injury/ Violation of a Court Order
Location: Dirt Alley, East of 1002 Ojai Ave., Ojai, Ca
Date / RB#: 6/13/11 / RB# 11-13373
Unit Responsible: Ojai Valley Station Detectives
(S)uspects City of Residence Age
Male Juvenile, Meiners Oaks, 17
Jesse Diaz, Ojai, 18
On 6/13/11, deputies from the Ventura County Sheriff Department’s Ojai Valley Station responded to a report of a victim with serious facial injuries at Ojai Community Hospital. During the investigation, it was learned the victim suffered facial fractures during a pre-arranged meeting in an alley on the east end of the City of Ojai. The meeting was arranged to “settle” a disagreement from another altercation between the two subjects the previous night. There was no evidence this battery was gang related.
During the fight on 6/13/11, the male juvenile suspect punched the victim multiple times about the head and face, while the victim was lying motionless on the ground. Investigators learned another subject who was present during the battery was Jesse Diaz and that Jesse video recorded the fight with his cellular phone.
Jesse Diaz was on Probation from a conviction regarding an unrelated assault on this same victim in December, 2010. As a term of his probation, the court ordered Jesse to “stay away” from the victim. A probation search of Jesse’s residence produced his cellular phone, which contained the video of the fight, showing the suspect battering the victim. Because he was present during the fight, in violation of his court order to stay away from the victim, Jesse was arrested for violating a court order.
The juvenile suspect was arrested for Battery, causing Serious Bodily injury and lodged at the Ventura County Juvenile Justice Facility.
Officer Preparing Release: Detective Steve Michalec
By Misty Volaski
As privileged members of the developed world, we often take for granted our cities’ infrastructures. After all, when’s the last time you thought about what happens when you flush a toilet?
But although our sewer systems typically fall under the heading “out of sight, out of mind,” they are vital — and expensive — to maintain. Recognizing this, the Ojai Valley Sanitary District’s board of directors has passed a new ordinance to penalize those who illegally connect to OVSD’s sewer lines.
“In the past, we’ve tried to pursue (violators) and get them to either eliminate the (illegal) unit, or to pay, but we didn’t have formal procedure,” said Brenda Krout, OVSD administrative officer.
The new ordinance will go into effect July 1 of this year. Currently, the district is in an amnesty period, during which those who think they may have an illegal connection may call the OVSD to begin the process of getting it permitted. Those who come forward during the amnesty period will still have to pay connection-related capacity charges and sewer service charges for the current year (should they want to keep the connection), but they will not be subject to the new penalties and fines.
According to the Spring 2011 issue of the OVSD’s newsletter, Pipeline, those charges for connection can be around $16,000. However, after June 30, those who are found to have an illegal connection will be subject to several thousand dollars more than that in penalties and fines (up to $4,800 more). Keep in mind, however, that the $16,000 for connection-related capacity charges and sewer service charges for the current year would only apply to those who wish to keep the fixture. Property owners “do have choices,” Krout said. “They can abandon connections and they wouldn’t owe us anything” prior to the June 30 cut-off date.
An illegal connection can be difficult to define — installing a toilet in one’s garage, for instance, wouldn’t usually require a permit — but ,in general, there is a violation if the structure could stand on its own as a residence. That generally means cooking and bathing facilities, like one might find in a “granny flat.”
“If you have a bathroom in your garage — even with a shower and toilet — (but) if you don’t have a kitchen, it can’t really function entirely separate from the main residence,” and wouldn’t require a permit, said Krout. “But if you have that same garage with a bathroom (which also has) a sink in there where you can wash dishes, and has a microwave and refrigerator, then you do have a separate unit,” and would be required to get permitted through OVSD.
Krout urged caution and suggested that those in doubt should call the OVSD to schedule an inspection before the end of June, so as to avoid the extra penalties and fines.
Krout added that the district has already identified more than 100 prospective violators through neighbor complaints and by comparing the OVSD customer address database to a mailing list from the post office. Those residences will receive letters stating that a possible violation has been identified at the address and must be inspected. A property owner can choose to go through the connection and permit process and pay the connection fees, or may disassemble the fixture(s) in violation and only be liable for those penalties and fines (after June 30).
Krout said that so far, 29 property owners have either paid their connection fees “or taken out the fixtures, whatever needed to be done so that they’re legal,” said Krout, estimating that this has brought the OVSD $71,000 so far.
Those interested in legalizing an unpermitted sewer connection or needing information about disconnecting can call customer service representative Laurie Johnson at 646-5548. Visit the OVSD online for additional information at Ojaisan.org.
By Chris T. Wilson
Ever wanted to own a piece of famous local or European art? How about a functional 1946 fire truck? Or perhaps your very own tropical island paradise?
Among the 400 items up for bid June 26 at the “Important Summer Estate & Antique Auction” at California Auctioneers in Casitas Springs will be two Picassos, a Rodin watercolor, five early sketches by Ernesto Seco, ceramics, drawings and personal effects of Beatrice Wood, a few pots from master potter Otto Heino, and, yes, a 1946 Chevrolet fire truck and a five-acre private island near Bora Bora in French Polynesia.
“Blue Heaven Island sits between the crystal-clear Bora Bora Lagoon and the deep blue Pacific Ocean, just a 10-minute boat ride from the most famous tropical island in the world,” according to the auction website. Complete with functional resort bungalows, a well, solar power and rainwater collection systems, the sandy beaches descend into a lagoon teeming with colorful tropical fish. “Blue Heaven Island is expected to bring between $5 million and $6.9 million at auction,” said auctioneer Jewels Eubanks.
“I think the owner was a world traveler who found this island and that’s where she decided she wanted to end up,” Eubanks said. “But she decided she didn’t want to go back and forth and now it’s one of those things that we to put in the auction so people can see it. And the price is right.”
But if it’s an old fire truck you’re after, Eubanks said the 1946 Chevrolet pumper fire truck has original ladders and has likely rolled in the Ojai Independence Day Parade.
“It’s got the old steel fire extinguishers that must weigh 100 pounds each,” he said. “And it runs. It’s clean as can be and has barely 10,000 original miles on it, this is truly a local treasure.”
Collectors of local art will be glad to know that Ventura record producer and real estate manager Randall Richman is offering several Beatrice Wood, Seco and Otto Heino pieces from his collection. Richman befriended “Mama of Dada” ceramicist Wood after buying one of her drawings at an auction where he met her. He and artist Kirk Saber visited her often in 1996 and 1997 before her death.
“I’ve got so much stuff that I can’t display or enjoy it all,” Richman said. “I’m kind of at a point where the world should have this. The world needs to know they can pick up a great value on an Otto Heino, a Seco and Beato.”
Included in those pieces is a head rest ceramic sculpture in high fire yellow luster glaze, a ceramic fish sculpture in a gold luster glaze, several of her drawings, a few pieces of her jewelry and a few saris that she wore. Richman refers to Wood as the “Cezanne of Ceramics,” and the “Picasso of Pottery.”
“I met her maybe 15 times before her death,” Richman recalled. “We had tea and wonderful long talks about her life and art.”
Richman said a portion of the proceeds from his auction items will be donated to charity.
Of the European art up for auction, a 1963 pencil-and-crayon drawing by cubist Pablo Picasso titled “Femme au Chapeau” is expected to fetch up to $60,000, and a watercolor titled “Cambodian Dancer” by Auguste Rodin could bring $15,000 or more. Estate fine art by Marc Chagall, Maurice de Vlamink, Alfred Thompson Brichard, Emanuel Villanis, Luis R. Falero, John O’Shea, A.V. Diehl and Maynard Dixon will also go on the block.
“One thing about our auctions that I love is that it’s a tiny family business,” Eubanks said. “Most modern auctions are very category-driven these days, but we’re a true old-fashioned auction house. We get whatever comes through the door and then we have to create sense out of it all. It has an old school variety that you can’t find anywhere else and this is almost all from Ventura County people.”
For more information on the auction, visit californiauctioneers.com or call 649-2686.
A 45-year-old Ojai man was arrested by the Hermosa Beach Police Department May 28 and charged with two counts of violating California Penal Code 289(e) — sexual penetration with a foreign object, according to Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Siannah Callado. Jon Johnson remains in custody at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles with bail set at $200,000. He was arraigned in Torrance Municipal Court on May 31 and entered a plea of not guilty. He is scheduled to appear in court June 29 to determine the date for a preliminary hearing.
It is the policy of the Ojai Valley News in cases alleging sexual offenses not to publish the names of suspects until they have been arraigned and allowed to enter a plea, and further court action has been scheduled.
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
I think of my daddy often, especially at this time of year. I lost him to lung cancer at an early age. He was a strong, hardworking and decent man. A strict disciplinarian, he had very definite ideas about how his children should behave. But he was always quick with a smile, and was very affectionate, which was rare for men of his generation. I never doubted that I would get punished for bad behavior, but I also never doubted that he loved me very much.
Daddy was a heavy smoker. There is no uncertainty about what killed him, and his death was the defining moment of my youth. The loss was hard on my entire family, especially for my mother, my sister and me. I miss him still.
For those of you who are fathers, I encourage you to take a moment and think about how much influence you wield — how much your children look up to you as an example of how to live their own lives. Take the time to let them know how much you love them. There is nothing sweeter to a child’s ears than to hear “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” from a parent.
For those who have lost their fathers, and for those lucky enough to still enjoy them, here is a Father’s Day tribute to the men who raised us.
A father is:
Someone who teaches you the most valuable lessons in life —- the importance of working hard, being honest, treating people with respect, and making good friends.
Someone who teaches you things that are almost as important — like how to throw a pass, bait a fishhook and hit a baseball.
Someone who takes you to ball games, county fairs and other great events; and doesn’t mind if you get a little dirty in the process —- which makes them even more fun.
Someone who is never too tired to play catch with you —- even if he has had a tough day.
Someone you respect, and whose respect you would do anything to earn.
Someone whose legs are strong enough to bounce you and your friends on them forever.
Someone who is swift and just with his discipline when you deserve it; and is just as quick with love and advice when you need it.
Someone who brings you a surprise when he comes home after work or from a trip.
Someone who treats your friends like they were his own children.
Someone who occasionally sneaks down to the store with you for an ice cream cone before supper. There is no dessert as sweet as the forbidden one.
Someone whose strength and self-confidence make you feel safe and secure.
Someone you want to imitate so much that the highest compliment someone can pay you is, “You know, you’re just like your daddy.”
Happy Father’s Day.
By Logan Hall
Area residents might be facing a 100 percent increase in fares when riding the Ojai Trolley. The city’s public transportation system was discussed at length at last night’s City Council meeting. In one of his last duties to the city of Ojai as interim Public Works manager, Ron Calkins brought new information to the council about transit and the city budget. Calkins told the council they had a few options.
The city can raise the fees for riding the Ojai Trolley to 50 cents for seniors and children 2 to 5 years old, and $1 for the general fare, which would increase the city’s annual revenue by $40,000. Currently, the rate stands at 25 cents and 50 cents.
The council and city staff can also decide on implementing ways to cut costs to the transit system. Calkins said that one way to cut costs would be to cut the amount of money paid to trolley employees through reduced hours or salaries. Another option would be to reduce service of the trolley by cutting the trolley’s operating hours in the city. Calkins said this action could save the city $30,000 a year.
Calkins also showed the council the city could save $100,000 by moving the Gold Coast Transit stop out of city limits to Mira Monte. Residents relying on bus services to travel throughout the county would have to find a way to get to Mira Monte before being able to ride the bus. Currently, the city pays $100,000 to Gold Coast to include Ojai’s city limits in their bus routes. The stop for Gold Coast buses is currently in front of the Vons parking lot at the “Y” intersection.
Terri Wolfe, Help of Ojai’s executive director, said that moving the Gold Coast stop would create a hardship for her organization. Help currently assists the elderly and other people who cannot get to the current bus stop on their own. Wolfe told the council that the additional mileage would increase costs and make it more difficult to get Ojai residents to bus stops efficiently. “We would be adversely impacted by that,” said Wolfe. Calkins assured Wolfe that the city would not leave Help of Ojai hanging and would work to take care the organization if the bus stop was relocated.
Ojai city manager Rob Clark explained the public transportation aspect of the budget had been “last-minute information,” and the council expressed a desire to see the issue as its own item on the council’s agenda in a future meeting.
Some question was raised as to whether or not Mayor Carol Smith should be allowed to vote on the matter due to Smith’s appointment as liaison to Gold Coast. “How can you be impartial?” Blatz asked Smith during the meeting.
The council ultimately decided to give city staff time to find answers to the council’s questions before any action would be taken.
Sheriff’s Department Press Release
Nature of Incident: A.B.C. Sales Operation – Sales of an Alcoholic Beverage to a Minor
Location: Ojai Valley
Date & Time: June 13, 2011 @ 5:00 p.m.
Unit Responsible: Ventura County Sheriff’s Office – Ojai Valley Station
On June 13, 2011, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Ojai Station and the Camarillo Police Department Special Enforcement Detail conducted an alcohol sales operation involving the local liquor stores in the Ojai Valley. Nine liquor stores were chosen for the sales operation. The law requires the sales employee to ask for and look at a person’s identification to make sure they are of age for purchasing an alcoholic beverage. Only one of the nine locations, the Ojai Beverage Company, sold an alcoholic beverage to the minor during the operation.
The employee who sold the alcoholic beverage to the minor was issued a citation for section 25658 (a) of the California Business & Professions Code and released. The California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (A.B.C.) will follow up with the business with regard to their employee selling to a minor. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office will send out letters to the other eight businesses involved in the sales operation advising them that they were successful.
The Sales Operation was successful for the businesses in the Ojai Valley in that 89% of the businesses involved in the operation refused to sell to a minor and asked for age and identification. One location even reprimanded the minor for trying to purchase an alcoholic beverage. This is the third sales operation involving the local liquor stores in the valley in the past three years.
Sheriff’s Department Press Release
Nature of Incident:
Narcotics Arrest for Sales of Prescription Medication
1200 block Gregory Street, Ojai, CA
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Special Services – Narcotics
June 14, 2011
In May 2011, Sheriff’s Narcotics Detectives received information of illegal prescription medication sales occurring in the Ojai Valley. Detectives identified Ojai resident Robert Beam, 43 years old, as the target of this information. On two occasions during this investigation, an undercover operative purchased prescription medication from Beam.
On June 14, 2011, Detectives contacted Beam and placed him under arrest for sales of a controlled substance. A signed Search Warrant was served at Beam’s residence on Gregory Street in Ojai where additional evidence was found. Prescription medications seized during this investigation included over 600 pills including Hydrocodone, Norco, Xanax, Soma, Oxycontin, and Dilaudid. A search of a storage facility rented by Beam resulted in the seizure of $45,000 in cash.
Beam was booked in to the sheriff’s Main Jail for sales of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance for sale.
Officer Preparing Release: Sgt. Mike Horne
The crew at the Ojai Beverage Company has tapped dozens of local restaurants, regional craft breweries and the talents of several local musicians for its second annual beer and food pairing fund-raising event this coming weekend in downtown Ojai.
A portion of proceeds from “Salute! A Finely Crafted Beer and Food Festival” will benefit the American Cancer Society and the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation, but tickets are in short supply and may sell out before the event, organizers say.
“We’re doing this for the community, and the best thing about ‘Salute’ is all the local involvement,” says Joby Yobe, co-owner of OBC. “And I just want to make it clear that this is an unlimited food and beer tasting that goes to support charity.”
Among the regional to international breweries and restaurants participating in the event are Ventura’s Surf Brewery and Anacapa Brewing Co., Ojai’s Barrel 33 and Ojai Pizza, Big Buddha Lounge, Bobbi’s Mexican Food, Casa del Lago, Classic Wines of California, Einhorn Beer Company, Enzo’s Italian Restaurant, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Green Mountain Brewing Company, Island Brewing Company of Carpinteria, Ladyface Ale Companie of Agoura Hills,Lagunitas Brewing Company, Lindeman’s, Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Tap It Brewing Company,
Telegraph Brewing Company, TNA Candy Beers, Westmalle Trappist, and Woodchuck Draft Cider, and many more breweries, which are being added daily.
“We’re going to have ‘Dr. Bill’ Sysak from Stone Brewing walking around talking beer and food pairing,” Yobe says. “He’s a plethora of knowledge, especially on beer and food pairing.”
Brotheryn Studios of Ojai has wrangled some of the valley’s finest musicians for the event. The recording studio, owned by surf-inspired, folkrock artist Todd Hannigan and the Heavy 29’s willheadline and play alongside Jesse Seibenberg (Supertramp, Kenny Loggins, Jim Messina), and Sam Bolle (Dick Dale, Agent Orange), and Dave Palmer (Fiona Apple, Chris Isaak, Air, Fleetwood Mac). The Dan Grimm Band will feature double lead guitars by world-class guitar players Jonathan McEuen and Ian Hutchinson, to name a few.
“I think it’s going to be a good mix of really good music,” Hannigan says. “We’re going to have a lot of different styles of people playing and we’ll probably play together at the end.”
Brotheryn Studios has recorded and produced recordings for Dave Mason, Malcolm McDowell, Izzy Stradlin and Kenny Loggins, among others. Hannigan is often compared with Nick Drake and Mark Knopfler and has played with Jack Johnson, Jackson Browne and Ben Harper. Hannigan received international recognition for his work on Johnson’s film “Thicker than Water,” for which he wrote and performed the theme song.
A lot of the anticipation for the event can be credited to Christine Hansen of 33 Productions, Inc. Based in Ojai, Hansen is an internationally renowned charity event organizer whose mission is to merge the power of music, art and media to unite the world.
“It’s going to be a fun event and I’m getting excited for this weekend,” Hansen said. “It’s going to be awesome looking and a great experience for everyone involved. It’s a huge community party that will do some good for local organizations. That’s our goal.”
Hansen said that the local talent that will be performing on Saturday and all the food that will be paired with all the regional craft ales and lagers will be donated.
For more information about “Salute” and to buy tickets, visit salutebeerfestival.com or visit OBC at 655 E. Ojai Ave., or call 646-1700.
By Chris T. Wilson
In less than two years, a small organic farm in Meiners Oaks has gone from being an idea to an active part of the local agriculture.
Friends Justin Huhn and Quin Aaron Shakra took over the 1.3-acre plot of land from Steve Sprinkel of The Farmer and The Cook and Gozo Farm in late 2009 and within a few months launched a Community-Supported Agriculture program that provides fresh vegetables and herbs to between 25 and 30 CSA shareholders each week.
“By many measures we’ve been very successful,” Shakra said. “We’re doing pretty much everything by hand and that’s a lot of work for two people to cultivate an entire acre of land by hand.”
And with the CSA bringing a sufficient income to take care of the needs of the farm, which overlooks the Ventura River from the corner of Rice and Fairview roads, the partners have decided to start an organic seed company to, at first, provide local and regional gardeners with seed stock from plants that have been selected for their qualities and adapted to the particular Mediterranean climate of Southern California.
“There are no organic seed companies in Southern California,” Shakra said. “We’ve been getting our seeds from the East Coast. So we’re doing this for economic reasons and for ecological reasons as well.”
With the first crop of kale seeds harvested, Shakra and Huhn are also cultivating about 10 other crops including radishes, sugar beets, purple broccoli, romaine lettuce, fava beans, fennel and cilantro.
“It’s such a huge learning curve once you get into it,” Huhn said. “Certain veggies are easy to save and will grow true. Things like lettuce and eggplants and peppers are easy, but for other plants that require breeding to get seed it starts to get tricky. There’s a big niche to fill and that’s very exciting.”
Now in the final stages of getting their organic certification through Oregon Tilth, Mano Farm and the newly formed All Good Things Organic Seeds should be fully certified organic sometime this summer, Shakra said.
As the two have worked the land, and realized the amount of effort and dedication it takes to raise food for market and CSA, they got involved with an organization called Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms-USA. WWOOF-USA links volunteers with organic farmers to promote an educational exchange, and build a global community conscious of ecological farming practices.
On Memorial Day, Genna Cherichello of Livingston, N.J., arrived at Mano Farm to volunteer through the summer and work on the farm in exchange for room, board and food. Cherichello, who turned 22 on Thursday, is a wwoofer and has been wwoofing for the past couple of seasons, she said.
“I was wwoofing at a small organic farm in Georgia last summer for a week,” Cherichello said. “I knew I wanted to wwoof for a whole summer in California, not just for the weather, but for the chill, relaxed climate of the people.”
Each day she’s weeding, prepping beds for replanting, picking for CSA and in a constant dialogue with Huhn and Shakra.
“I’m happy and I’m really learning a lot,” she said. “I’m learning how to save seeds and I’ve become a part of the daily lives of a tight-knit community and social network that is really awesome.”
To learn more about and participate in Mano Farm’s CSA program, their seed collecting venture or the volunteering opportunities of wwoofing, visit manofarm.org or call the farm phone, 758-3184.
By Misty Volaski
The Ojai Education Foundation and the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa teamed up last week to honor 15 teachers and classified staff members from the Ojai Unified School District. The annual Educator of the Year awards are voted upon by staff at each school site. This year, each award recipient was presented with a plaque and a gift certificate for a dining experience for two, donated by the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. A ceremony was held before last week’s school board meeting to formally honor the recipients.
“These are teachers and professional staff who go 110 percent beyond what they’re normally tasked to do,” said Joanna Iwata, OEF board officer. “These are exceptional folks who have done outstanding work with our youth, and are obviously well-respected by their peers.”
OUSD superintendent and OEF board member Hank Bangser voiced his support for this year’s addition of classified employees to the list of honorees. “I’m very pleased with the expansion of the awards to include equal representation of (teachers and) classified staff,” he said. “These employees are tremendously well-respected across the community.”
OEF vice president for programs, Carol Holly, is a former principal in the district and said the awards are about more than just a gift certificate. In times like these, where OUSD staff are asked to do more with fewer resources, the acknowledgment is even more treasured. “Teachers being recognized by their peers — that’s a really special accomplishment,” she said. “And that they’re backed by a community-based group makes it even more special.”
Award winners are: Chaparral/Summit, teacher Heather Ramsey, classified Judy Enneking (Chaparral and Summit were combined due to the small size of each school); District Office Site, classified Andrea Pendleton; Matilija Junior High, teacher Harriet Clise, classified Pam Hassenflug; Meiners Oaks Elementary, teacher Laurel VanAuker, classified Sheri Torrey; Mira Monte Elementary, teacher Sharon Michels, classified Michelle Gorrell; Nordhoff High, teacher Lora McWhirter, classified Joan Dockery; San Antonio Elementary, teacher Sandra Hansen, classified Cristal Paniagua; Topa Topa Elementary, teacher Dawn Gorman, classified Anita Churpek-Hook.
“When we pool our resources and come together for a common goal, we see it’s achievable. We can all work toward that,” said OVI public relations manager Veronica Cole. All proceeds, she added, from OVI’s Arts and Leisure Series will be donated to the OEF and Ojai Valley Youth Foundation this year.
Find out more information on the Ojai Education Foundation at OjaiEF.org.
By Misty Volaski
After hours of deliberation Tuesday night in the Chaparral Auditorium in front of dozens of community members, board members of the Ojai Unified School District selected Thayne Whipple to replace former board member Steve Fields. Whipple bested eight other applicants — Larry Beckett, Debbie Johnson, Jeffrey Ketelsen, Lowell Martinson, Marianne Ratcliff, Paul Royle, Kevin Ruf and Stephen Weed. Each candidate for the position turned in significant amounts of paperwork, gave speeches, and answered several questions from the board. Also included in the night were comments from community members, many of whom voiced support for Larry Beckett.
“Everybody involved should be commended at the highest level,” said OUSD superintendent Hank Bangser. “The candidates were well prepared, respectful of each other, and complimentary of each other. They all clearly respected and valued highly the work that’s being done in this district. (President) Rikki (Horne) had said the process could be messy, and Kathi (Smith) said it could be awkward. But the part of the process that could’ve been messy and awkward — the dialogue and deliberations in the characteristics and qualities of candidates — I thought the board members handled that part really well.”
Out of the original group of nine, the OUSD board selected six candidates to add to their “slate of nominees” — Whipple, Beckett, Ratcliff, Ruf, Johnson and Royle. After much discussion, the board further narrowed the list to just three — Whipple, Beckett and Ratcliff.
Beckett, an Ojai Valley resident for more than 40 years, worked in the Oxnard School District, is a member of the Upper Ojai Search and Rescue unit, was a 4-H leader, a Rotary Club member, and a member of the Camarillo Air Show board, among other groups. Board Member Pauline Mercado voiced her support for Beckett. “He has an extensive background in education,” she said Tuesday, “and has tremendous support from the community.”
Ratcliff, meanwhile, is on the board of the Ojai Education Foundation and a former journalist and frequent attendee of OUSD board meetings. “I want to listen, advocate,” she told the board Tuesday. “(I’d also like to) put a parcel tax before the voters — I’m not saying it should be done, but presented to voters.” Board Member Linda Taylor chose Ratcliff as her nominee of choice. “I appreciate her coming to hundreds of board meetings. She really understands the Brown Act and the issues facing the School District. She understands us as a group.”
But, ultimately, it was Whipple who stood out to the board, which voted for him unanimously.
Whipple is no stranger to education, having had three of his children, Graham, Haven and Parkes, graduate from Nordhoff High School. Sage, 13, will be a sophomore at The Thacher School in the fall. Whipple has also been a board member with the Ojai Education Foundation and has served as the nonprofit organization’s president. Professionally, Whipple has been involved in the financial industry for most of his career. The Whipple family moved to the valley 13 years ago.
At the meeting, Whipple told board members that he’d like to “let the public know that we care, that they will be listened to. I’ll make myself available to listen, to support the students.” When board member Pauline Mercado asked what Whipple would consider to be a “good board meeting,” Whipple stressed the importance of recognizing achievements, being a “cheerleader and advocate.”
“I’ve come to know Thayne very well through the Ojai Education Foundation,” Bangser told the OVN Wednesday. “He runs an excellent meeting, is upbeat, engages people around the table in good and meaningful conversation. He’ll be a tremendous asset to the board. I spoke to both Larry and Marianne, and both of them said what an outstanding choice Thayne was. No doubt Thayne will be well received by the community when they learn (about him).”
Tuesday night, board member Smith voiced her support for Whipple, saying, “The caliber of candidates was stellar, we have the luxury of choosing the skill set we need, not duplicating the same skill sets (we already have). Thayne is familiar with the budget, the school district.” Horne later agreed. “Thayne a very creative thinker, and I appreciate that.”
Also at the meeting, Taylor recalled her favorite moment with Whipple. “I remember when Thayne was moved to tears about the purchase of a cello for an elementary school. That says something.”
Whipple said he was excited to begin his work with the OUSD. “I believe I’ve had success, both in public and private venues, in being creative in approaching different projects and solving them,” Whipple told the OVN Wednesday. “I hope to add insight, leadership and creativity into an already very passionate board, and to support the teachers and let them do what they do best. We need to make sure the students are always our No. 1 priority. We need to push to communicate more, ask questions. How can we turn this process around so that teachers don’t have to worry year to year whether they can stay in Ojai or not.”
Specifically, Whipple said he would like to look into incorporating technology into the classroom. “The last several years I have really focused on online businesses, virtual ways of learning and interacting. And with the OEF we’ve been supporting new math curriculum that’s very focused on technology,” he said. “I would expect that the future holds a lot more technology, so I would like to see us maximize our use of that to enhance the teacher-student experience.” He added that he’s also looking at ways to improve the “homework process through technology.”
Whipple continued, “Since I considered applying for the board last month, I’ve just been having one idea after another. Most of them probably won’t work out, but that’s how you get great ideas — by continuing the conversation, and bringing people together, even if it’s just encouraging those people with great ideas to come to board meetings.”
For now, however, Whipple’s appointment is provisional. According to a statement released by the OUSD, “Unless a petition calling for a special election, containing a sufficient number of signatures, is filed with the office of the County Superintendent of Schools within 30 days from June 7, 2011, this provisional appointment shall become an effective appointment.”
By Logan Hall
The Ojai City Council is figuring out ways to cut costs to city expenses. At a special meeting Tuesday night, council members and city staff crunched the numbers to try to come up with ways to balance the city’s budget.
Also present were members of the public who weighed in on the subject. Some represented organizations like the Stop the Trucks! Coalition and the Ojai Visitors Bureau. Such representatives reasoned with the council on why their organization deserves funding. Other members of the public seemed to represent the citizens of the city.
“When we’re looking at a declining budget,” said local resident Kenley Neufeld, “I think there’s always places that we can save a little bit of money …”
Among other issues, Neufeld asked the council why health insurance for retired council members went from $6,000 in 2008 to $22,000 this year. “That’s gigantic,” he said.
Mayor Carol Smith said she agreed with Neufeld while the city’s finance director Susie Mears simply said, “It’s very complicated.” Mears did agree to show the rate increase schedule and the reasons for the increases at the next council meeting.
Although the meeting lasted about three hours, the council still hadn’t made any decisions regarding the budget. City manager Rob Clark told the OVN that city staff would answer some of the council’s questions next week. “We didn’t really finish everything we wanted to on Tuesday,” said Clark. “We’ll finish up on June 14, but we probably won’t adopt the budget until June 28.”
The council also discussed the Arts Commission’s request for funding for the next fiscal year and received feedback from commission representatives and other members of the public.
“We had 11 people asking for $19,000 last year and we had to divvy it up,” said Arts Commissioner Roger Conrad. “What I was having to do was turn away programs for disadvantaged youth and additional elderly programs … That’s part of the reason why we want to increase that particular budget.”
Citizens who would like to address the council on budget matters can attend the regular City Council meeting on June 14 at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall.
Look for full coverage on the city’s budget in future issues of the OVN.
By Misty Volaski
The Ojai Valley lost an icon Thursday morning. Local architect David Bury died on the opening morning of the 65th annual Ojai Music Festival, hanging in there just long enough to see his final project, Ojai’s new Libbey Bowl, through to completion.
To honor Bury’s memory, a moment of silence was planned Thursday evening before the first acts went onstage.
“The combination of David’s acumen in understanding the community and understanding music and visualizing spaces was the perfect combination to lead the Libbey Bowl Project,” said Jeff Haydon, Ojai Music Festival executive director.
While his declining health prevented him from going to the actual grand opening of the new bowl last weekend, said Haydon, “He did tour the bowl and got a chance to walk around it a few days before the opening. He got to see his finished product. He was a perfectionist, didn’t want to disappoint anybody. He was really hoping everybody would appreciate what he created, and after last Saturday and Sunday, there was a resounding ‘Yes!’”
Bury put countless hours into the rebuilding of the bowl. “About half of the time he spent on this project, he donated. In many respects, this vision of his respected the old bowl, but went well beyond the original. All the artists who performed on opening weekend — (OMF director) Peter Sellars, (OMF music director and performer) Dawn Upshaw, and all the local performers — said it feels like the old bowl, but that the vision of the entire project just really encourages us to think beyond anything we’ve done before. And that is (Bury’s) legacy.”
Along with Libbey Bowl, Bury’s work can be seen all over the valley — and beyond. The Pergola in front of Libbey Park, The Oaks at Ojai, the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, Salzer’s Records in Ventura, Aji Spa in Phoenix, Ariz., and Spa Terra in Napa, as well as numerous commercial and residential projects, all have the distinctive Bury signature.
“Along with the entire community, we are deeply saddened by the loss of David Bury,” said Veronica Cole, public relations manager for the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. “Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is very fortunate to be a part of the legacy this remarkable man leaves. His incredible contributions to our renovation will be a constant, endearing reminder of his love and devotion to our community.”
Besides his architectural contributions, Bury also served on the Ojai City Council for two terms, serving as mayor twice. He was also on the Ventura Regional Sanitation District, Ojai Planning Commission, Ojai Valley Land Conservancy board, Ojai Festivals board, Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce board and Ojai Pergola Committee, to name a few. His list of accolades and awards was lengthy as well — Design Award, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, City of Ojai; Design Award, Behavioral Science Technology, City of Ojai; Design Award, Christopher House, City of Ventura; Preservation Award, Libbey Park Pergola, City of Ojai; Pearl Chase Award, Wells Fargo Bank, City of Santa Barbara; Progressive Architecture Magazine, “PA Award”, Libbey Bowl; and Best Interior, Aji, Wild Horse Pass Resort, Southwest Contractor. According to his website, Bury has completed more than $150 million of construction over the last 15 years.
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
“He doesn’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain.” This weekend, I ignored that old piece of wisdom. In the process I got soaked, but it proved to be a great decision. Sunday’s free “Day of Music” in Libbey Park was challenged by inclement weather. But many of those who came out to enjoy local acts not only didn’t care, they embraced the wet weather — and made it their partner in the celebration of the reconstruction of the Libbey Bowl.It was a sight to see.As I walked around, I was caught up in the pure joy of the celebration. Some had umbrellas and rain gear, but many did not. It didn’t make a dime’s worth of difference either way. As talented musicians played on, the crowd came alive, dancing, celebrating and loving the music. Small children danced. Young people danced. Old people danced. No one was immune from the spirit of what the opening of the bowl represented. This is what a festival is supposed to be. It was pure joy, and I was excited to be a part of it all. It reminded me of the old photos of Woodstock — people getting soaked by the rain, but not letting that “dampen” their enjoyment of the concert. It also reminded me of the pure joy I had as a child stomping through mud puddles walking home from school in the rain. The Libbey Bowl project has been large, and the construction expense is sobering. But this is a music-lovers community. After all, if people will come out and dance in the rain for hours, it shows the tremendous support for the many quality musical acts this community offers.We have great musical talent, we have a terrific new venue, and we have a lot of people who love music. The Libbey Bowl reconstruction is truly a community project. Many people have supported it with their time and money. Several of those people were on hand Friday night at the outstanding “First Blast” gala and concert that officially opened the venue. Those attending heard great South American music — and came away impressed with the acoustics and beauty of the facility. All of the elements are in place for the Libbey Bowl to be a real success. This weekend is an indication of great things to come if we continue to work together.
By Logan Hall
Even rain and chilly temperatures couldn’t keep the community from celebrating the completion of the Libbey Bowl renovation project and all of the hard work and effort by everyone.Donning ponchos and umbrellas, people flocked to Libbey Park on Sunday to hear dozens of local musicians take the new bowl for a test drive. Ojai Valley legends like Alan Thornhill, Roger Kellaway, Jonathan McEuen and Rain Perry took to the stage throughout the day to entertain the gathered masses. Although the rain started to come down early in the afternoon, it didn’t seem to hamper the spirit and enthusiasm of the community or the performers. People danced and sang along as their favorite local acts performed.Prior to the performances, Chumash Elder Julie Tumamait and her family blessed the bowl and Ojai Mayor Carol Smith cut the ribbon, declaring the bowl open to the public. Also sharing the stage with Smith were past and present City Council members and former mayors of the city, who helped usher in a new era of performances at Libbey Bowl.”(Sunday) was a tribute to David Bury for all the hard work he put in to make this happen,” said former Ojai Mayor Steve Olsen, who was on stage to help kick off the bowl’s opening. “It’s just such a beautiful venue. I thought it was spectacular.”Rubén Salinas, saxophone player for the group Noble Creatures that was first to perform on Sunday, was proud to be part of the opening ceremonies. “I was very, very impressed with the general layout,” he said. “It was great to be up on that stage. It seemed like there were really good acoustics.”The weekend’s festivities began on Saturday night with the Ojai Music Festival’s “First Blast” gala and concert. According to Jeff Haydon, the festival’s executive director, about 1,000 people came out Saturday night to hear the new bowl in action for the first time. Performances by soprano Dawn Upshaw, accordionist Michael Ward-Bergeman, pianist Octavio Brunetti, and classical guitarist Claudio Ragazzi showcased the bowl’s sound as people enjoyed the new but familiar surroundings.Tables and chairs were set up on the lawn above the bowl and dinner was served to about 400 people, most of whom had contributed to the funding of the project. “Our goals were to introduce the new bowl to the community,” said Haydon, “and thank everyone for all of the support, financial or otherwise. The weekend was a culmination of almost four years of work by a lot of people. This is Ojai’s Bowl.”
Out of more than 20 competitors, Darrienne Gross was crowned queen of karaoke, taking first place at this year’s Ojai Karaoke Idol: Part Deux. Held at The Village Jester on Thursday, the event offered locals the chance to win a grand prize of $500. Taking second place was Samantha Craton, who won a $75 gift certificate to The Village Jester; third went to Raymond Powers ($50 Jester gift certificate); and fourth went to Sean Ingoldsby ($25 Jester gift certificate).”It was another fantastic community event,” said Nigel Chisholm, owner of The Village Jester. “The bar was packed! There was so much support from the audience — they were really pulling for everyone who got up on that stage. It was a real testament to the human spirit.”Winners were tallied by a 60 percent audience vote and 40 percent judges vote.Judges were Ardas Khalsa, Ellen Johnson, Jeff Foster and Holly Ferguson. Chisholm broke up the tension by singing the theme song of “Cheers” midway through the finale, and asked all the contestants to come onstage to sing the Flinstones theme and the theme for Gilligan’s Island. “Literally everyone in the bar was singing along,” Chisholm said. “It was great!”For the finale, contestants had to sing three songs instead of the usual two; the first was a Sinatra song, followed by a judges’ choice and, finally, the singers’ choice. ”Everybody really gave their best performances that night,” said Chisholm. “It’s been great to watch them develop. This isn’t an easy thing to do. These people are up there because they love singing, so to put themselves in front of people who are there to judge them — that’s a phenomenally brave thing to do.”Chisholm added that he’ll bring back another round of Karaoke Idol this fall, and will also be introducing a kids’ contest, probably some time in September.
City of Ojai press release
The City of Ojai announces the hiring of Greg Grant as Public Works Director/City Engineer, filling a key vacancy in the City staff.
Grant, an Oak View resident, comes to the City from the Ventura Regional Sanitation District, where he served as the district’s solid waste division manager and chief engineer. Grant brings more than 25 years of engineering experience to the job, including over 20 years with the sanitation district. His duties included overseeing operations of the award-winning Toland Road Landfill near Santa Paula.
“I look forward to using my 26 years of experience in public works and engineering to benefit the beautiful City of Ojai and its residents. My family and I love this City and I look forward to further improving its infrastructure, operations and maintenance activities.” Press Release: City Hires Public Works Director Page 2 of 2 June 2, 2011
Grant will take over management of the City’s public works department, which is responsible for the maintenance of City facilities and streets, parks, the cemetery, assessment districts, and the newly refurbished Libbey Bowl. The department also includes operations of the Ojai Trolley system. In addition, Grant, will serve as the City’s licensed professional engineer, whose duties include the engineering review of development proposals and City public works projects.
“We are very pleased the City was able to attract an employee with the experience and talent that Greg brings to the organization,” said City Manager Robert Clark.
Grant was the recipient of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Engineer of the Year Award for 2010 for his efforts to design, permit, construct and operate a biosolids drying and electrical generation facility at the landfill that converts landfill gasses into clean energy. Prior to his work at VRSD, he worked for engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff for six years, where he was responsible for designing several transit improvement projects
By Misty Volaski
Tuesday night will find 10 locals stepping up to the podium in the Ojai Unified School District’s board room. They are seeking to replace former board member Steve Fields, who vacated the position in mid-May after announcing he will be moving out of the district.In past meetings, the board investigated the possibility of holding an election; however, due to budget constraints, the $80,000 price tag was deemed too high, thus requiring the board to appoint a replacement for Fields themselves.At Tuesday’s meeting, which the public is encouraged to attend, candidates Lawrence Beckett, Deborah Johnson, Jeffrey Ketelsen, Lowell Martinson, Tim Peddicord, Marianne Ratcliff, Paul Royle, Kevin Ruf, Steve Weed and Thayne Whipple will each give speeches and answer questions from the board, after which local residents may stand and speak in favor of or against any candidate (limit one minute per speaker). Following public comment, board members have the option of asking follow-up questions directed to any candidate. Following a short break, the board plans to narrow down its choices by creating a potential appointee pool. Each of the four remaining members will choose between zero and two applicants to create that pool, giving their reasons for the choice.Then, “as president, Rikki Horne has the authority to ask for a motion from any board member to move to appoint a nominee,” said OUSD superintendent Hank Bangser. “And assuming there’s a second, if that person gets three or four votes (from board members), then he or she becomes the approved provisional appointee.” But if that person doesn’t get at least three votes, Horne will again ask for a motion, repeating the deliberation and motion process until one of the candidates in the potential appointee pool acquires the necessary amount of votes.The hope is that by the end of the evening, a new OUSD board member will be selected; however this is neither guaranteed nor required. Residents are encouraged to come to the public meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and is held in the district board room at Chaparral High School Auditorium, 414 E. Ojai Ave.For more information, call the OUSD at 640-4300, Ext. 1011.
Commentary by Bill Buchanan
If you are a music fan, this is an exciting time in Ojai. We are about to receive a bounty of music unparalleled in most cities, and unheard of in towns our size.
This weekend marks the opening of the reconstructed Libbey Bowl, with the “First Blast” gala and concert Saturday at 8 p.m., followed by the “Day of Music” on Sunday. The “Day of Music” will feature groups on three stages continuously throughout the day. The gathering starts at 11:30 a.m., with an opening ceremony at noon, then music until 8:30 p.m. The “Day of Music” is free to the public. The following Thursday, June 9, ushers in the 65th annual Ojai Music Festival featuring performances from world-class musicians. Many music lovers gladly travel great distances to hear what we are about to have served to us in our own back yard. It is the equivalent of world-class chefs traveling all the way to Ojai just to serve you breakfast in bed.
I have loved music for a long time. Growing up I adored groups like the Beetles, Rolling Stones, The Who and The Doors. Like so many of my generation, I dreamed I was destined for a career in music. It turned out that I had no talent and didn’t like to practice. Otherwise, a legend would have surely have been born.
But my lack of musical ability did not suppress my love of music. There are so many wonderful things about music. Perhaps no other artistic genre offers so many diverse forms from which to choose. I cut my teeth on pop, and Motown, then fell completely into rock ‘n’ roll. I later grew to love other types of music. I discovered blues, and became a Buddy Guy fan. I listened to Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and came to love jazz. I found the incredible music of Billie Holiday, which combined the best of jazz and blues like no one else. I also came to appreciate the tremendous influence that classical, blues and jazz had exerted on the rock ‘n’ roll that I loved.
I have my favorites, but I enjoy listening to most anything. However, there are exceptions. For me, these are rap, bluegrass, Dixieland jazz, Frank Sinatra and (gasp) Elvis Presley.
It’s not that I dislike rap music. I hate it. While there are some songs that feature clever lyrics and rhymes, for the most part, I find rap misogynistic, vulgar and derivative. Several years ago on a trip to England, Ava and I rented a car and drove through the countryside. It was gorgeous, but driving was a nightmare. The car was a standard shift, which meant I shifted left-handed as I sat on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road. My personal vision of hell is to be forced to drive through England in that same car listening to rap music for eternity.
I grew up on bluegrass music, and developed a strong distaste for it at an early age. It just sounds primitive and coarse to me. Ava reminds me constantly that bluegrass is a descendent of Celtic music, which I love. I know they are related. I find Celtic lilting and haunting. When I hear it, I think of lush rolling hills, green mountains overlooking a swirling sea and lovely red-headed women. When I hear bluegrass, I think of slack jaws, faded overalls and a failure to marry outside one’s own family.
Ava and I lived in Louisiana for five years and I even learned to like and appreciate Zydeco, an acquired taste to say the least. But I have never been able to stomach Dixieland jazz. My theory is that there was only one Dixieland jazz song ever written. It has a few variations, but it ends up sounding all the same to me.
Sometimes I think I am the only person on Earth who doesn’t love Frank Sinatra. I have heard the argument over and over and over from those who believe he is the greatest ever. But I just don’t get it. There is no soul in his music to me—- it sounds over-rehearsed, over-orchestrated without a hint of spontaneity. It all sounds phony and forced.
In the South, it is considered a sacrilege to disparage Elvis Presley. To his credit, he had a few truly great songs —- “Kentucky Rain,” “Suspicious Minds” (although Dwight Yoakum’s version is superior in my opinion) and “In the Ghetto.” Everything else he sings is either too “Vegas” or too redneck for me. If Elvis came back from the dead and played a free concert across the street, I wouldn’t look out the window.
But another great thing about music is one man’s audio jewel is another’s earache. We are in for a great two weeks of music. There will be something for everyone. Come out and enjoy it.
City council, manager discuss revenue generating options
By Logan Hall
Ojai’s populace is faced with an age-old financial question. Would an increase in taxes be worth a major boost to the city’s budget?
With the city work force stretched thin and the dire need for repairs on the 41 miles of road maintained by the municipality, Ojai officials are weighing their options in dealing with the financial woes of the town.
“Not only do we have fewer workers,” Ojai’s city manager Rob Clark told the City Council in a budget workshop on Tuesday night, “but those workers are trying to do more than they had been doing several years ago.”
Clark showed the council that Ojai’s current financial status could be attributed to several causes. The largest cost that the city incurred was the $1.3 million advance for the construction of the new Libbey Bowl. Those funds, however, are being replenished as contributors continue to make good on their pledges. The city also loaned $623,325 to its Redevelopment Agency for city improvements that should be paid back by the state of California. “That’s a loan we think will be repaid,” said Clark, “unless Gov. Brown gets his hands on it.”
Clark told the council that much-needed repairs to city infrastructure will be costly, and with the budget where it’s at, the city will have to figure out how to pay for everything. “In order to get the streets and also … parks and buildings in better shape,” said Clark, “you’ll have to put aside maybe $1 million a year. Over time we need to start looking at how we are going to achieve that goal.”
That’s where a tax increase could help. Clark said he wasn’t the type of person who would suggest a tax increase after only three months on the job, but he wanted to present the numbers for the council to consider. The most significant increase in revenue would come from the city’s sales tax, which is currently 8.25 percent. Clark says that a half-cent increase in sales tax would generate an additional $500,000 a year for the city. Another option, according to Clark, would be to increase the city’s Transient Occupancy Tax, or “bed tax.” Clark says an increase in the TOT would generate an extra $200,000 in revenue.
“Those are … your two major revenue generating alternatives,” Clark told the council.
Councilwoman Sue Horgan expressed a desire to hear from those that a tax increase might affect. “Should we decide to discuss an increase in the TOT, I would like the input of the hoteliers,” she said.
Councilwoman Betsy Clapp also weighed in on the discussion. “Everybody hates taxes,” she said, “but we’ve got to pave the streets and take care of our parks some way.”
The council did not take any action Tuesday night and another budget workshop is scheduled for June 7 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.