In Brief

In Brief

Buffalo Exchange, Urban Outfitters opening in August
Buffalo Exchange, an eclectic buy-sell-trade thrift store, will be opening its doors at 532 E. Main St. in Ventura on Aug. 8. The chain will join American Apparel and Urban Outfitters to become the third major national retailer to set up shop in Ventura’s historic downtown.

Buffalo Exchange is known for its interactive approach, which relies on customers bringing in used clothing or jewelry to sell for cash or trade for any other item in the store.

Urban Outfitters moved into the 300 block of Main Street this spring, and will open on Aug. 15. Many downtown business owners hope that these two major retailers will bring increased traffic and employment opportunities to the area.

Rob Edwards, director of the Downtown Ventura Organization, hopes that both stores will take advantage of their reputable brand names. “It’s a great sign that in this economy, there’s good consumer perception of downtown and lots of momentum,” he said. “I hope that they will use their marketing power in new ways, which American Apparel has done very little of.”

Both stores offer services not previously available in downtown Ventura. “Beyond surf shops, there are very few options for men’s clothing, and both Buffalo and Urban have that,” Edwards said. “They also have later hours of operation. What we need is a critical mass of 10 stores that stay open until 7 or 8 p.m. Then, downtown Ventura will become a restaurant and shopping district, not just a restaurant district.”

Congresswoman Capps announces approval of Rice Avenue project
Congresswoman Lois Capps announced on Friday, July 24, the approval of $700,000 in budget money for the Rice Avenue interchange project in Ventura County as part of a 2010 fiscal year transportation and urban development bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives the previous evening.

Capps requested the additional federal funds after the City of Oxnard, the Ventura County Transportation Commission and the Oxnard Harbor District expressed concerns about traffic congestion at the busy interchange. The $700,000 is part of a project that will cost $80 million in total, to build an overcrossing structure of eight lanes, new on-ramps and off-ramps, and install irrigated landscaping and new street lights.

“Those of us who drive up and down the 101 freeway know well that the Rice Avenue interchange is a major thoroughfare for Ventura County,” said Capps.  “I am pleased that the House has approved this critical federal funding to continue the efforts to improve and expand this busy interchange. ”

Straight Up youth nonprofit enters its fifth year
Straight Up Ventura County, a nonprofit program that uses interactive theater, media and writing techniques to engage youth ages 12-25 about issues related to alcohol use, is opening a new office in downtown Ventura to celebrate its fourth birthday.

Straight Up will be holding an “office warming” celebration on July 31 from 2 to 6 p.m., at 34 N. Palm St., above the Ventura Improv Company’s theater space. Video, writing, theater and podcasting projects that Straight Up youth have completed over the years will be on display.

Becky Newman, marketing and multimedia specialist for Straight Up Ventura County, described the first day of the summer workshop. “When the kids arrive, they wonder why they’re here, or why their parents sent them,” she said. “But they discover that we don’t just talk; we incorporate games and fun into the awareness-raising that we do.” The goal of the workshops is to help youth develop personal and community solutions for underage and binge drinking problems, which are reaching disturbing levels countywide.

The office warming party will be open to the public, but attendees are encouraged to R.S.V.P. by calling 643-5701, ext. 1, or sending an e-mail to rsvp@straightupvc.org.   

In Brief

In Brief

“Virtual Ventura” offers a new look at downtown
Panomatics, an international company that designs virtual tours, has launched “Virtual Ventura,” an interactive online tour that allows viewers to explore historic downtown Ventura from the comfort of their own homes or offices, via high-definition 360-degree panoramic photography.

More than 25 Ventura businesses are currently featured in the virtual city tour, including Watermark on Main, the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Candlelight Kitchen and Bar, Café Fiore, We Olive, Brooks and The Lodge. Participating merchants and venues can use the virtual tour of their business on their own Web sites.

Users navigate through Virtual Ventura with a full range of left-right, up-down motion as if they were actually walking into local shops, restaurants and art venues. The tour opens with a beautiful view from the City Hall front entrance facing Poli Street, and lets users choose their personal tour routes from there.

Panomatics recently opened its first U.S. office at 440 San Clemente St. in Ventura. “Virtual Ventura” is located at virtualventura.net.

Stream Team raises awareness of water pollution
The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board voted unanimously on July 16 to add six reaches (a river or stream segment of a specific length) of Calleguas Creek and its tributaries to California’s list of water bodies that are polluted due to trash impairments. This change was primarily due to the monitoring and advocacy of the Ventura Coastkeepers’ Stream Team.

Jason Weiner, a Ventura Coastkeeper, explained the process required to get an endangered body of water onto the regional radar. “Every two years, the board is supposed to reevaluate bodies of water by gathering data from nonprofits, who monitor the trash levels on the beaches and samples of the waters themselves,” he said. “From there, we submit the data, the board lets the public comment on it, and holds a hearing. Thankfully in this case, we successfully added the six reaches to the list.”

The new listing designates several streams within Ventura County as polluted, including Calleguas Creek just before it drains into Mugu Lagoon, and again in Camarillo near Channel Islands University; Conejo Creek in Camarillo and Thousand Oaks; and Arroyo Simi in Simi Valley.

Weiner isn’t sure whether being added to the list means that regional authorities will take action to clean up the water anytime soon. “There’s a long list of places that need help,” he said, “and resources have to go to the most polluted ones first. Eventually, they’ll get to these reaches, but having them listed is an important first step to preserve the ecological integrity of the county. ”   

In Brief

In Brief

Artist donates mural to YMCA
Chuck Trunks, a local artist and long-time resident of Camarillo, has donated a mural called “Race Day” to be placed in the newly renovated Teen Center at the Ventura Family YMCA.

For both Trunks and the YMCA, the completion of the two projects was perfectly timed. “I pretty much finished ‘Race Day’ when the finishing touches were being put on their Teen and Childcare Center,” Trunks said. “The colors, mood and theme of this piece matched up with what the YMCA was looking for.” This renovated space will allow the Ventura YMCA to offer better programs for youth, including after-school childcare, day camps, sports teams and swim lessons.

Trunks originally created the painting to represent his lifestyle in the 1990s, when he was an active runner. Although he spent most of his professional life in the biotech industry in Thousand Oaks, Trunks left his corporate job to concentrate on sharing his colorful artwork with people around the world.   

Margo Byrne, executive director of the Ventura YMCA, agrees that Trunks’ timing could not have been better. “The painting blends in so well with our remodeled children’s area and with our 5K event, which is coming up at the end of the month.” Byrne said. “We are so grateful that Chuck decided to donate such a wonderful piece of art to our facility.”

— Claire Palermo

Telephone scam preys on unsuspecting grandparents
Over the past few months, the Ventura Police Department has received numerous calls from elderly people who have unwittingly become victims of the “Grandparent Scam.”

Scammers posing as a victim’s grandchild or other relative will claim to be in jail or in the hospital after an accident, and ask for money to pay medical bills or cover bail. The amount requested ranges from $500 to thousands of dollars.  
The success of this scam depends on the willingness of caring, trusting elderly people to let their love for their relatives surpass their doubts. Most victims let this type of crime go unreported out of embarrassment or fear that the criminals have personal information on them or their family members that could be used for retaliation.

Ventura police urge the community to take the time to verify a caller’s authenticity before giving away personal information or money. Ask the caller questions that only your relative would know the answer to. If the response is suspicious, hang up and report the incident immediately.  

— Claire Palermo

Loring spa leaves Love House
After five years, Spa by Diane Loring Inc. will be closing the doors this week on its third and most recent location at the Historic Love House in downtown Ventura. The Victorian-style house, which was made a historical landmark in 1989, also served as a dynamic display space for local art during the spa’s residence.

For Loring, the closing of the Love House location represents a conscious, vision-driven move rather than a loss. “As an entrepreneur, I had a vision of creating a headquarters, and doing some restructuring,” she said. “We did it, and that vision is done. This was and will be a positive experience.” The spa still lives at its two other locations, the Pierpont Racquet Club and the Pierpont Inn, where it has been thriving for the past 22 years.

Everything — with the exception of hair styling — that was available at the Love House location will transfer, including classes in art and psychology with Dr. Priscilla L. Partridge de Garcia, surf and spray tan with professional surfer Mary Osborne, historic walks with Sondra Briggs and yoga with Kathleen Fitzgerald. All contact information for the spa will remain the same, and outstanding gift certificates will be honored at the two Pierpont locations.

— Claire Palermo

Citizenship fair this weekend
A free fair for local residents looking to obtain U.S. citizenship status will be held this weekend in Oxnard.

The event, at the La Hermandad Hank Lacayo Youth and Family Center, 520 W. 5th St., Suite D, is from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, July 18.

Those interested in attending must be at least 18 years old, have the ability to understand, read and write basic English, and prove they have been a permanent resident for five years — three if married to a U.S. citizen. Men under 31 must present their Selective Service number.

Also required for the citizenship fair is a permanent residency card; work and home addresses for the last five years; personal data on spouses, ex-spouses and children; dates of travel outside the country for the last five years; a $675 money order or check to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; and documentation of court dispositions and/or arrest records.

For more info on the event, call 483-4620.

— Paul Sisolak

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UPCOMING COMMUNITY EVENTS

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    April 25 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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    April 25 @ 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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    April 26 @ 8:00 am - May 11 @ 8:00 pm
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    April 26 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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    April 27 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

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