In Brief

Midtown Code considered

The Ventura Planning Commission recommended that the City Council approve the agenda item and enact an ordinance amending the Midtown Zoning District Map. Results of the five-hour meeting were unavailable by deadline, which was a day earlier due to the holiday.

The Midtown Development Corridors Code calls for human-scale and pedestrian-friendly development on Main Street and Thompson Boulevard. The plan also provides growth and conservation standards, as part of Ventura’s 2005 General Plan.

— Hannah Guzik

Workers strike to clean-up laundry business

Laundry employees at Prudential Overall Supply formed picket lines Nov. 19 to protest the company’s business standards when providing services to healthcare facilities.

The workers called on Baxter Healthcare, which contracts Prudential Overall Supply to provide their medical and surgical facilities with clean garments, to conduct an investigation of the business standards of their supplier.

The strike took place at Baxter Healthcare’s facilities in Westlake Village.

According to the labor organization UNITE HERE! press release, Prudential Overall Supply has been sued by the state for unfair and unlawful business practices.

— Hannah Guzik

House approves Rice Ave. interchange money

At the request of Congresswoman Lois Capps, D-Ventura, the U.S. House of Representatives allotted half a million dollars on Nov. 14 to help complete the Rice Avenue Interchange project

at Highway 101 in Oxnard, Capps’ office announced.

Part of the 2008 fiscal year Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill, H.R. 3074, the legislation passed 270-147.

The aim of the Rice Avenue project is to alleviate traffic congestion, especially for trucks shuttling to and from the Port of Hueneme.

The legislation is expected to be approved by the Senate, and then sent to President Bush who has announced he intends to veto the bill.

— Hannah Guzik

Rubicon Theatre Company wins its 7th Ovation Award

The only professional theatre company in Ventura County won its seventh

Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award Nov. 12 at the Orpheum Theatre ceremony.

Musical director Dan Wheetman was honored for the “Back Home Again: A John Denver Holiday Concert” production, which premiered at the Rubicon in December 2006.

-— Hannah Guzik

In Brief

Local philanthropists, volunteers and fundraiser honored

Celebrating the spirit of generosity, the Santa Barbara/Ventura Counties Chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals awarded locals at their annual National Philanthropy Day Luncheon Nov. 12 in Santa Barbara.

Mary and Richard Carpenter won the Ventura County Philanthropists of the Year award.

The Thousand Oaks couple have given to local organizations through their Carpenter Family Foundation and recently had the Mary and Richard Carpenter Plaza Park at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza named for them.

Sue Chadwick, who volunteers with St. John’s Healthcare Foundation, United Way of Ventura County, Oxnard Rotary Club and other organizations, was named Ventura County Volunteer of the Year.

Rochelle Rose, Certified Fund Raising Executive, who has had a 25-year career in development and marketing for local non-profit organizations and raised more than $35 million dollars, won the Professional Fundraiser of the Year award.

State sues EPA over emissions

Governor Schwarzenegger announced Nov. 8 that California has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their sluggish response to the state’s request to regulate its own tailpipe emissions.

“California is ready to implement the nation\’s cleanest standards for vehicle emissions, but we cannot do that until the federal government grants a waiver allowing us to enforce those standards,” Schwarzenegger said in a release. “Our air quality, our health and our environment are too important to delay any longer.”

In December 2005 California requested authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions on cars and light trucks sold in the state.

Fourteen other states that have made similar requests were expected to join California\’s lawsuit.

A 2002 state law requires California to establish new standards for motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions beginning in model year 2009 and aims to cut global warming emissions from new vehicles by almost 30 percent by model year 2016.

Ventura view preservation initiative heads to Council

The Ventura Citizens’ Organization for Responsible Development is asking the City Council to adopt a View Protection Initiative to preserve open hillside space or to call a special election so voters can weigh in on the issue.

VCORD turned in signatures from 15 percent of the Ventura’s registered voters to City Hall Nov. 7. After the county voter registrar certifies the signatures, the Ventura City Council will have the opportunity to enact the ordinance or schedule a special election within about 100 days.

“Many other cities have view ordinances and it is unthinkable that we would allow development to proceed without our own,” said Camille Harris, chair of the VCORD Advisory Council. “Ventura’s green strategy must include the visibility of the beauty that surrounds us.”

In Brief

More of the same

Deputy Mayor Christy Weir, Councilman Bill Fulton and Mayor Carl Morehouse received the most votes in the Nov. 6 Ventura City Council election and will continue their service on the council.

Weir is expected to be chosen to serve as Mayor.

Incumbents Debbie Golden and Barbara Fitzgerald also won seats in the Ventura Unified School District Board of Education.

About 23 percent of registered voters cast a ballot.

— Hannah Guzik

Coast Guard haltsClearwater Port LNG

A proposal to convert an oil rig into a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility 10 miles off the Carpinteria coast came to a standstill Oct. 23 after the U.S. Coast Guard delivered a litany of environmental questions to the Clearwater Port project.

The coast guard stopped the clock on the project — which is awaiting an environmental review — to give the company time to assess and explain the details of the facility.

“We anticipate, for example, additional requests for information concerning potential impacts to marine mammals and other aquatic species (including sea turtles) from the proposed project, which will be closely coordinated with appropriate state and Federal agencies,” says the federal letter and signed by Deepwater U.S. Coast Guard officials M.A. Prescott and Keith Lesnick.

Kira Redmond, Executive Director of Santa Barbara Channel Keeper, called the project hiatus “a victory.”

“We’re very gratified that the U.S. Coast Guard has taken our concerns seriously,” Redmond said. “Given the long term and devastating effects that the LNG terminal could pose to our marine life and our resources, we feel that a stringent environmental review is essential.”

Channel Keeper has also hired the Environmental Defense Center to thoroughly review the project.

Clearwater Port, a subset of NorthernStar Natural Gas, plans to go ahead with the project, despite the time extension.

“It’s an expect part of the process because it’s a large process and there’s a lot of information,” said Clearwater Port Vice President Billy Owens. “We think we can respond to those questions. We don’t believe it will result in a significant delay for the project.”

— Hannah Guzik

Bachelor party turns fatal

What started as a celebratory party the evening of Nov. 4 turned into a violent crime scene at a home on Lighthouse Way in Port Hueneme after shots erupted, leaving one man dead and four others injured.

20-year-old Sophear Riem, a resident of Oxnard, was shot multiple times and pronounced dead upon arrival of Port Hueneme police at 12:09 p.m.

Several neighbors called 911 around midnight after they heard gunfire at the home where a bachelor party was being held.

Four other Oxnard men, whose names have not been released but whose ages range from 23 to 33, were injured during the shooting spree, police said. As of Nov. 6 two of the men were listed in critical condition and two were listed in stable condition, said Sgt. Peter Freiberg, spokesman for the Port Hueneme Police Department.

No one had been arrested for the shooting and the shooter had not yet been identified as of Nov. 6, police said.
“This was an unusual incident and it’s being investigated,” Freiberg said.

As of Nov. 6 police had not released any information on the motive of the crime or disclosed whether it was gang-related.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Investigative Division of the Port Hueneme Police Department or call 385-TALK anonymously.

— Hannah Guzik

City approves sustainability report

The Ventura City Council on Nov. 5 approved an ambitious proposal designed to make the city a leader in the nation in sustainability. Goals of the proposal include drastically reducing city carbon emissions, eliminating styrofoam products, and developing entirely within the city\’s existing footprint.

Councilmember Christy Weir singled out the recommendation to double the planting of city trees as a priority for her, noted that the Avenue area especially could benefit from more trees.

\”There\’s nothing greener than a tree,\” she said.

Councilman Brian Brennan said he wants the city to help schools improve indoor air quality and reduce the amount of toxic pesticides they use outside.

\”Climate change is a growth industry,\” he said, noting that there are 100 \”green\” businesses in Ventura already.

Councilman Jim Monahan supported the initiative, but asked \”How are we going to fund it?\”

Ron Calkins of Public Works said much of the funding could be found in existing programs with some modifications, but also admitted that the project does not have a timeline. Brennan responded that \”green jobs\” tend to be \”high value and high wage\” and that he hopes Ventura can become known as a center for green thought, the way Hollywood is a center for the entertainment business, and Silicon Valley is a center for the computer industry.

—Kit Stolz

In Brief

Vehicle fire shuts down 101

A vehicle fire on Highway 101 at Emma Wood State Beach ignited two acres of roadside brush and shutdown southbound traffic for close to an hour during the Oct. 29 evening commute.

When authorities arrived at 5:10 p.m. a passenger truck, leaking fuel, was engulfed in flames, said Ventura Fire Department Battalion Chief Vernon Alstot.

Eight to 10 inch flames lined the edge of the highway, he said.

“Typically when we do have car fires on freeway, people just pull over to the side and get out,” Alstot said.

No one was injured in the incident, he said.

One water dropping helicopter and nine fire engines responded to extinguish the blaze later that evening.

A water tender was also used to shuttle water to firefighters, due to the lack of an on-site water source.

CalFire hand crews cleared brush around the burn area to prevent the fire from spreading further.

Only State-owned property – near Emma Wood Campground – burned.

Southbound Highway 101 was closed for about 40 minutes.

One southbound lane was reopened at about 6:30 p.m. Amtrak rails that had been forced to close were also later reopened after crews knocked down the fire.

The vehicle sustained significant damage in the fire. The cause is under investigation.

Industrial worker killed on Highway 118

Fillmore resident Robert Hawthorne was killed in a drilling accident on the side of Highway 118 in Simi Valley on Oct. 26.

The 31-year-old worked for Mahaffey Drilling Co., which was subcontracted by CalTrans to help with a freeway widening project.

Hawthorne’s feet became tangled in the drill and he was spun around, sustaining fatal head injuries, the Ventura County Star reported.

The victim and other drilling employees had been working in a CalTrans work site, on the eastbound shoulder of Highway 118, near Kuehner Drive.

The tragedy is not the first for the Hawthorne family.

Hawthorne’s sister Lori Anne Hawthorne was killed in a car crash on Christmas Eve in 1990.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating the accident.

“We’ll try to determine factually what happened and then see if there was any violation of the health or safety code that may have caused the accident or contributed to it,” said Kate McGuire, spokeswoman for Cal/OSHA.

The investigation is expected to take about three months but could take as long as six.

Local attorney arrested

Criminal defense attorney Mark Stein was arrested at the Ventura County Courthouse after police detectives who were waiting to testify in a court case noticed that Stein appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

Stein, 39, had arrived several hours late for the criminal hearing, according to the Ventura Police Department.

Shortly after he arrived he was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance.

Detectives later served a search warrant at Stein’s home and business office, finding a stolen vehicle, stolen property and drug paraphernalia.

The attorney was booked at Ventura County Jail for being under the influence of a controlled substance, auto theft, possession of stolen property and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Assemblywoman warns of scam

Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, asked the public to beware of an E-mail scam purporting to help fire victims in Malibu.

The e-mail – which claims to be from Brownley but is actually from a scam artist – asks readers to click on an Internal Revenue Service link to donate money to the victims. The link, Brownley said, takes people to a phony Web site where any money donated goes to the operator of the scam.

The E-mail used portions of Brownley’s remarks that she made in a previous radio address on the fires.

“My immediate goal is to do everything possible to get the word out that the e-mail did not come from me or anyone associated with me, and that no one should open the ‘IRS’ link,” she said in an Oct. 30 release.

“It is another ugly side to the tragedy of the Southern California wildfires, where some anonymous person is attempting to exploit the generosity of Americans to support one another in a time of crisis for personal gain and greed.”

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UPCOMING COMMUNITY EVENTS

  1. $5 Friday: Community Art Night

    April 19 @ 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm
  2. WEEKLY SOUND BATH – THOUSAND OAKS

    April 19 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  3. Bird Museum Open House

    April 20 @ 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
  4. 2019 Ojai Earth Day

    April 20 @ 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
  5. WEEKLY SOUND BATH – THOUSAND OAKS

    April 24 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
  6. Margarita Mixoff & More!

    April 25 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
  7. Margarita Mixoff & More!

    April 25 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
  8. Cabernet, Canvas, and Color Workshop

    April 25 @ 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
  9. CLUFest 2019: Colors

    April 26 @ 8:00 am - May 18 @ 7:00 pm
  10. Thingamajig V: A Printmaking and Ceramics Exploration

    April 26 @ 8:00 am - May 11 @ 8:00 pm

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