In Brief

Camarillo Solar Plant grows

SolarWorld Industries America will invest over $20 million this year in its new Camarillo solar energy production plant, the company announced in June 25.

A worldwide solar energy provider, SolarWorld acquired Shell Solar in 2006. The manufacturer of silicon solar wafers and cells is currently expanding and upgrading its Camarillo production site.

Over the coming months, manufacturing will be transferred from old machines to new, higher performance machines at the site. In the past few weeks, the first machines for the higher speed solar module line were installed, including automated precision robots, the release said.

The new machines will increase module production capacity in Camarillo from 35 to 100 megawatts per year, according to release.

SolarWorld said it will use the building that previously housed the module assembly line for expanding its warehouse and shipping capabilities.

Academy students accepted

Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) announced that 18 students from the 24th Congressional District have been accepted to US military academies, a press release issued June 22 said.

The students represent 11 high schools in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, plus one who was home schooled. All of them appeared before Gallegly’s military academy nomination board. Fifteen were nominated by Gallegly, while three received their nominations elsewhere with Gallegly’s assistance, the press release said.

“I thank the hard-working nomination board, under the direction of Col. Moriarity, for selecting the best and the brightest for our military academies,” Gallegly said.

Accepted applicants are: Andrew Buttitta (Thousand Oaks High School), Ryan Campbell (Westlake High School), Robert Geiger (Santa Ynez High School), Bryan Koenig (Royal High School), Justin Landseadel (Oaks Christian School), Derrick Luken, (Lompoc High School), Randolph Mann (Camarillo High School), Kyle Nelson (Moorpark High School), Eric Kanney (Thousand Oaks High School), Jeff Senning (Foothill Technology High School), Robert Wolfe (Oaks Christian School), Travis Zahnow (Royal High School), Nichk Firestone (Cate School), Logan Hershman (Thousand Oaks High School), Josh Ziska (Oaks Christian School), John Peterson (Bridgton Academy), William Short (home schooled), and Lindsay Watkins (Foothill Technology High School).

Officials Call for Air Control

At a meeting held June 22, elected officials from Southern California made a case to the California Air Resources Board, urging them to take immediate action on the Southern California portion of the state’s Clean Air Plan, a press release from the Southern California Association of Governments said.

The officials called upon policymakers to take emergency actions to reduce emissions that are associated with the region’s shipping and transportation of goods.

“We are in the midst of a very serious air quality crisis in Southern California, and further delays by the state will only exacerbate the situation,” said San Bernardino County Supervisor Gary Ovitt, who is also a Board member for the Air Quality Management District (AQMD).

The AQMD oversees air quality policy for parts of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and all of Orange County. It is facing challenges in meeting federal standards for ozone and fine particulate matter, one of the primary pollutants associated with diesel emissions, the press release said.

Earlier this month, AQMD adopted its South Coast Air Quality Management Plan and submitted it to the Air Resources Board, but the state agency delayed consideration of the plan until October, according to the press release.

New LNG app complete

Barely a month after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger closed the door on BHP Billiton’s contentious plan to build the Cabrillo Port liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility 14 miles off the Oxnard Coast, another proposed LNG facility has moved one step closer to fruition.

NorthernStar Natural Gas’ proposed Clearwater Port facility now starts the timeline for a state environmental quality act review. In a May 23 letter, The California State Lands Commission informed Billy Owens, Clearwater Port’s project manager, that its application has been deemed complete. The letter was also sent to a United States Coast Guard and Maritime Administration officials and the consultant preparing Clearwater’s environmental impact report and statement (EIS/EIR). It also detailed areas where more information and clarification will be necessary for the EIS/EIR.

If the project is approved, Clearwater Port would convert an oil platform currently owned by Carpinteria-based Venoco, Inc. into an LNG receiving terminal. The gas would then be heated and transported through existing pipelines to the state’s natural gas infrastructure. Backers of the project have characterized the project as more responsive to environmental concerns than BHP Billiton and a better option for gas consumers because gas suppliers would have to compete for access to the terminal.

In Brief

Health coverage for kids lags behind state

The nonprofit group Children Now released an online report June 20 that revealed new statistics on the state of children’s well-being in California.

The report “2007 California County Data Book” is a public resource providing county-level data on children’s health, education and family economic status.

Ventura, which holds 2 percent of the state’s child population, ranked 46 out of the state’s 58 counties in the percentage of children with health insurance coverage, according to results of the report. Ten percent of children in Ventura lack health insurance coverage, compared to 7 percent statewide, the report said.

Less than half of Ventura’s children, 46 percent, between the ages of 0-4 are enrolled in preschool or nursery school, the report said.

The report also said that 91 percent of children in Ventura are in good or excellent health, while statewide it’s 92 percent.

Children Now concluded from its report that how children fare depends on the county in which they live and that too many counties are failing their children.

“Even in the best performing counties, too many kids aren’t receiving the basic developmental supports of health insurance and early education they need to reach their potential,” said Ted Lempert, President of Children Now.

Ormond Beach Hearing set

The Sierra Club is encouraging people to attend a hearing on Thursday, June 21 at the City of Oxnard Planning Commission for two development proposals that would result in the annexation of County land into the City of Oxnard.

The commission will take comments on the proposed development of 700 acres, most of it within the Ormond Beach Specific Planning Area. The proposed development includes over 1,000 homes, two new schools, a mixed-use commercial space, light industrial sites and open space and trails, according to an article in the Reporter on May 31. If approved, the projects would convert agricultural land into commercial and residential developments and could have an impact on nearby wetlands.

The hearing starts at 7 p.m. More information, including the Draft Environmental Report, can be obtained at

CLU Program wins grant

The United States Department of Education granted $1.6 million to California Lutheran University’s Upward Bound program, the school announced June 13.

The four-year grant will allow the college preparatory program to continue assisting low-income and first-generation students looking to attend college.

“This is an exciting accomplishment for the California Lutheran University campus, the Upward Bound staff and the Upward Bound students,” said program director Diva Ward.

The program provides Ventura County high school students with tutoring, academic advisement, weekend classes, college tours, parent workshops and a five-week summer residential component at CLU.

Mental health advocates feted

The Turning Point Foundation celebrated supporters of mental health at its first annual gala “Champions of Mental Health” at the Ventura Beach Crowne Plaza Hotel on June 16.

The foundation, based in Ventura County, offers services such as emergency shelter and day programs to the mentally ill and to the mentally ill who are homeless.

The evening was a tribute to people whose personal experiences and community service showed a commitment to helping others with mental illness.

The gala included dinner, an auction and entertainment by musician Tilford Jackson. Two clients of Turning Point spoke at the event, detailing positive changes that the foundation helped them achieve.

Honorees were Kevin Clerici, Robert and Norma Lagomarsino, Michael and Donna-Christine McGuire, Margot Martin, Pat Miller, Hugh Ralston, the County of Ventura Crisis Intervention Team and the Ventura County Community Foundation.

The foundation also provides subsidized housing with case management and supportive services in Ventura, Simi Valley, Oxnard, and Camarillo.

In Brief

Nava named to emergency council

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez appointed Assemblymember Pedro Nava to serve on the California Emergency Council, a release from Nava’s office said June 7.

The Council is the official advisory body to the Governor during times of emergency and advises the Governor on California’s emergency preparedness needs, efforts and funding.

“I am honored that Speaker Nuñez has appointed me to the California Emergency Council,” Nava said. “During my tenure in the assembly, I have worked hard to increase California’s readiness to deal with natural and man-made disasters including tsunamis, flood, fires, earthquakes and terrorist attacks. I will continue this work on the Council.”

In 2006 Nava authored into law an assembly bill to facilitate emergency preparedness efforts of communities, businesses, schools and government agencies.

Trail closes after lion seen in park

Two mountain lion sightings in Arroyo Verde Park were reported to the Ventura Police Department over the weekend.

The first sighting occurred on June, 8 at around 7 p.m. The mountain lion was seen near the trail at the north end of the park.

A second sighting was reported at 2 p.m. on June 9 near the west trail of the park.

Trails above Arroyo Verde Park were closed as a precaution and will not open until June 18. It was unclear whether the same mountain lion was seen in both sightings.

Bilingual school program grows

The Rio School District is seeking kindergarten and first-grade students for its expanded Dual Immersion Magnet Program at Rio Real Elementary School.

Beginning in the fall, these students will be eligible to enroll in the English/Spanish program that aims for students to become bilingual, biliterate and bicultural.

“We’ve had dual immersion classes at Rio del Norte School for two years and have seen the students bloom,” said Carolyn Bernal, principal of the magnet program. “By expanding the program, we can reach even more students interested in becoming proficient in two languages, which will have lifelong benefits.”

The program is now looking for native English speakers for the first-grade class and native English and Spanish speakers for the kindergarten class.

Students are taught by bilingual teachers. Spanish accounts for 90 percent of the instruction in kindergarten. Increasing amounts of English are added each year until 50 percent is reached in the fourth and fifth grades.

Information sessions will be held June 21 and June 26 at Rio Real Elementary School, 1140 Kenney Street in Oxnard. To RSVP or for more information call (805)947-7321.

Grand jury faults county hiring

The Ventura County Grand Jury concluded in a recent report that some recruitment practices of the County’s human resources department have led to problems with hiring and promotion.

The Human Resources Department delegated much of its hiring authority to certain county agencies between 2004 and 2005. In turn this led to inconsistencies in personnel recruitment and promotion, the report said.

The report cited inconsistencies in the following: posting of job announcements, determination of the required number of job applicants, delegation of the authority to determine the type of recruitment (either from department personnel only or open to the public), and the practice of nominating one person to a position versus promoting by competition between several applicants.

As a result, adherence to the County’s personnel rules has become inconsistent and inequitable. In addition the human resources department’s control and oversight have been compromised, the report found.

The Grand Jury recommended that final authority for recruitment be returned to the human resources department, that oversight of decentralized recruitment be improved and that exit interviews be provided for departing employees.

In brief

Day trippers drive Ventura tourism

The Ventura Visitors & Convention Bureau announced May 31 the completion of a year-long study to determine the economic impact of tourism on the city of Ventura. Conducted by Lauren Schlau Consulting, the study concluded Ventura’s tourism industry is large and vibrant for a relatively small community.

Results from the study determined day visitors, mostly Californians, are the driving force of Ventura’s tourism, compromising an estimated 82 percent of total visitor volume. Ventura has attracted more than 5 million annual visitors who spent over $450 million, the report said. By category, Ventura visitors spent an estimated $175.7 million on meals and beverages, about $123.6 million on shopping and gift items and an estimated $72.4 million on parking and transportation. Overnight lodging accounted for an estimated $43 million, and about $2.3 million was spent on attractions and entertainment, the report showed.

It also said the volume of tourism and spending supports an estimated 5,500 local jobs, or approximately 9 percent of the city’s total workforce.

Biodiesel boosts Caltrans

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is conducting a $100,000 six-month pilot project to determine the feasibility of using B20 biodiesel fuel, derived mainly from recycled cooking oil, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced June 4.

If the results are favorable, Caltrans could begin fueling up to 4,500 diesel vehicles with B20, a blend of 20 percent diesel from biological sources and 80 percent made from petroleum. The governor’s office said in a press release that a switch to B20 would decrease Caltrans’ consumption of petroleum by as much as 600,000 gallons yearly.

The Governor’s office added that the infrastructure for biodiesel vehicles is already in place for Caltrans which has about 230 diesel fuel sites statewide. Only minor, relatively inexpensive modifications would need to be made to these facilities. About 20 Caltrans trucks and construction equipment are currently running on B20.

The pilot program began in January and will conclude in July.

Discrimination Decision Denounced

The Supreme Court recently ruled in a 5-4 decision to limit an employee’s ability to sue her employer for pay discrimination (Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company). The case was brought by a 19-year employee of Goodyear Tire who discovered she earned as much as 40 percent less than her male colleagues. News of the decision drew the ire of some in Washington, including Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) and her colleagues at the Democratic Women’s Working Group.

Seconding Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion, the group stated that the majority’s interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act “completely ignores the reality of the workplace and is based on the illogical conclusion that a victim of pay disparity will be able to document a discriminatory difference in the salaries within six months” adding, “The ruling leaves these individuals with no recourse or remedy.”

Capps was joined in her opposition by Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), Hilda Solis (D-El Monte) and Lynn Woolsey (D-San Rafael).

Thousand Oaks wins award

The Business Work-Life Alliance of Ventura County bestowed Thousand Oaks with the “Ventura County Family-Friendly Employer” honorific for the fifth year in a row, noting the city’s commitment to a proper work and family balance for its employees.

The city joins 21 other employers, including the cities of Oxnard and Ventura, the County of Ventura and companies such as Amgen and California State University, Channel Islands in accepting this distinction.

BWLAVC representative Mary Riley noted that Thousand Oaks had “exceeded the family-friendly employer criteria established by the Ventura County Economic Development Association (VCEDA), and the Child Development Resources of Ventura County” and added that their support of the family structure led to “family strengthening” in the area.

Scott Mitnick, Thousand Oaks City Manager, expressed gratitude for the award and renewed the city’s commitment to providing flexible work atmospheres to its employees.

The award was established to recognize and promote leadership in the balance of work and family life.






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