Overdose threat rises significantly in Ventura County

Fentanyl, a drug exponentially stronger than heroin or morphine, can be fatal in small doses. Now, due to an influx of the drug into Ventura County from foreign manufacturers, overdoses are on the rise locally, according to the Ventura County Department of Public Health.

The drug has sparked a nationwide epidemic, leading to fatalities, especially when the drug is cut with other drugs.

According to the department, Fentanyl is colorless and odorless and can cause death if swallowed, injected, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. The department says that “There have been several documented and multiple suspected cases of fentanyl-laced heroin being the primary or contributory cause of overdose in Ventura County.”

“This is a public health crisis, not only here in our county but across the country,” says Dr. Robert Levin,
Ventura County public health officer. “Illicit drug manufacturers are ‘cutting’ heroin with fentanyl to increase potency and drive down cost; it is an inexpensive but deadly substitute for other opioids.”

Since 2012, almost two Ventura County residents per week have died due to overdose, totaling 85 to 100 annually. Naloxone, a drug that counters the effects of fentanyl, has been credited for saving the lives of hundreds of near-fatal overdose victims.

The Department urges residents to call 911 if they suspect a fentanyl overdose.

Ventura Farmers Market closed during Fair

The downtown Ventura Farmers Market will cease to be for Saturday, Aug. 5, due to the arrival of the whimsical Ventura County Fair and its merry band of revelers in performance for the annual parade.

The market, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon every Saturday on the corner of East Santa Clara and Palm streets, will return the following Saturday, Aug. 12, for all of your vegetable needs.

For more information, visit www.vccfarmersmarkets.com.

 Simi Valley salon hosts pamper day for foster youth

Local foster teens are in for a treat on Monday, Aug. 7, in Simi Valley as Hair Unlimited West host a “pamper day” for the youth.

Teens will have their hair cut and styled, learn how to apply makeup and receive manicures at no charge to them.

“The plan is to help the girls leave looking beautiful and feeling inspired to have a great school year,” said Hair Unlimited West owner Nina Myles.

The event is also sponsored by James Storehouse Inc., which supports children in foster care and those aging-out of foster care by providing resources that can ease transitions and improve living conditions.

New veteran clinic in Oxnard

Members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee announced approval on July 28 of a bipartisan agreement authorizing 28 VA medical facilities leases that have been awaiting approval for years, including a new 41,000-square-foot facility in Oxnard.

The effort, spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, also approves six months of additional funding for the Veterans Choice program that allows some veterans to receive care outside of the VA system, a program created in the wake of outcry over wait times at VA medical centers.

For several years, leases have been held up in Congress due to a change in the way the Congressional Budget Office measures costs, going from yearly rental costs to lifetime costs, thus grossly increasing the required budget allotment and making some in Congress hesitant to approve. Brownley has worked on this issue by introducing legislation, including the Build a Better VA Act (H.R. 94), that allows major medical facility leases to be authorized by a committee resolution rather than via legislation.

The new VA facility in Oxnard will provide primary medical care, mental health services and more, removing the need for veterans to travel to facilities in Sepulveda or West Los Angeles.

Ventura City Council approves auto center expansion

On Monday, July 24, the Ventura City Council passed, by a 6-1 vote, the Auto Center Specific Plan, which includes expanded roadways and a larger sign.

The new plan includes a $2 million LED sign that will be visible from the freeway. In 2008, the City of Ventura approved $750,000 in funds toward construction of the sign, but due to the recession, the sign was never constructed. Now, the city will not provide funds for the 82-foot-high sign, which will sit 218 feet away from the freeway. By comparison, Oxnard’s Auto Center LED sign sits 31 feet from the freeway, but the Ventura sign will be twice as large.

The Auto Center consists of 10 dealerships employing over 1,000 among between them.

The Ventura Chamber of Commerce has been in support of the plan. Stephanie Caldwell, president and CEO of the Chamber, says that the Chamber has urged the City Council to naturally grow sales-tax revenues for economic development following the Chamber’s support of Measure O, which increased sales tax in the city by one-half percent.

Caldwell says that the new sign has the potential to increase sales at the center by 10 to 15 percent.

The sign is expected to be completed within nine months, but there is no time frame for when other improvements approved in the plan, including a street widening and the undergrounding of electrical wires, will be completed.