Grant approved in effort to remove Matilija Dam

Dam removal activists have waited for decades to have the Matilija Dam removed, and just in time for the new year, they are one step closer after a $3.3 million California Department of Fish and Wildlife grant was approved toward the effort.

The department selected 44 projects to receive funding from its Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, also known as Prop 1. The funding will be applied toward the 65 Percent Design Planning Project through the County of Ventura to carry the effort through the design removal phase.

The grant comes on the heels of a $175,000 donation in November by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. In March, the estimated cost to complete the dam removal portion of the project ranged from $13 million to $30 million. With the approval of this grant, the Coalition awaits word on approval of a $1 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Todd Road Jail inmates to train troubled dogs

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Detention Services Division will launch in January a program known as “R.U.F.F. Road,” Rehabilitation Utilizing Furry Friends.

In partnership with Pivot Animal Assisted Education Outreach, the division’s program allows dogs facing euthanasia a second chance by providing them with training that makes them more apt to be adopted. The inmates, paired with dogs, will teach basic obedience including house training and socialization skills.

Inmates selected for the program must complete an application and good behavior will be considered.

For more information on Pivot, visit www.pivotareo.org.

Traffic-related laws coming to California in the new year

Put down the phone and take the wheel, lest you’re willing to face the consequences come Jan. 1, when California’s new, stricter driving-while-talking law takes effect.

At the start of the new year, California Vehicle Code 23123.5 will be repealed and replaced with Assembly Bill 1785. Signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, the new traffic law bans the use of wireless devices while moving if the devices are not attached to the dash or mounted to the windshield. A single tap or swipe motion is allowed, otherwise all interaction with the device must be through voice activation or other hands-free methods.

Violations of the law are considered infractions and is $20 for the first offense, $50 for each offense thereafter, of course, sans court related fees that may come with the citation.

Motorcycle lane splitting becomes legal on Jan. 1, and California is the first state to legalize it. The technique is used exclusively by motorcyclists who travel between stopped vehicles on the freeway.

Other new year surprises include an increase in reporting vehicle damage threshold from $750 to $1,000 in the event of an accident and a vehicle registration fee increase of $10, bringing the total minimum to $53. The fee increase takes effect on April 1, 2017.

Camarillo man stabbed on Christmas day dies

Bronson Boyett, 23, was found stabbed in the 2600 block of Munston Street in Camarillo. Boyett later died from his wounds at the Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau’s initial investigation found that Boyett was stabbed during a physical altercation between two groups of people. Officials are calling the incident a homicide.

No arrests have yet to be made. Investigators believe two juveniles and three adults were involved. Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the suspects.

The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).