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West county pet of the week: Handsome

November 21, 2014 - 3:38pm

Handsome, a very appropriate name, has been waiting at the shelter since August. The adult boxer mix needs to live in a home with adults only. Because he is older than 5, his adoption fee is discounted to $75. This includes vaccinations, free veterinarian check, neuter, microchip implantation and a faithful companion. Potential owners can meet Handsome at the Humane Society of Ventura County, 402 Bryant St., Ojai. Shelter hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. The society will have its annual event offering pet photos with Santa from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the shelter and Dec. 7 at the Ventura Beach Marriott. Christmas card photos will be available for a $25 donation to help keep the society open for the animals in need. Visit http://www.hsvc.org for more information.

Thanksgiving meal costs go up this year

November 21, 2014 - 3:18pm

Thanksgiving is a little more expensive this year.

The American Farm Bureau Federation released the results of its 29th price survey on the cost of Thanksgiving dinner Thursday. The overall cost of a Thanksgiving meal that feeds 10 went up to $49.41 from $49.04 last year.

“That’s fairly stable price on our survey,” said John Anderson, Farm Bureau Deputy Chief Economist.

One gobble of relief was the price of turkey, which was expected to go up due to reduced supply. Instead, a 16-pound frozen turkey costs $21.65 on average, 11 cents less than in 2013.

Anderson said retailers ate most of the wholesale cost to get people into the stores.

“Thanksgiving is their Super Bowl and World Series rolled into one. Turkey is a big deal at Thanksgiving, it gets people into the grocery store so they want good deals,” Anderson said.

A decrease in energy costs likely helped keep prices down. The average gas price dropped 10 percent from last November to $2.89, according to the American Automobile Association.

Because of production and shipping costs, that’s a decent chunk of the sweet potato pie.

To conduct the annual survey, The Farm Bureau sends 179 volunteer shoppers to grocery stores in 35 states. Their mission: to find the best deal possible.

The survey includes other staples such as stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries and pumpkin pie with a cup of coffee. It does not take into account more recent trends in buying fresh, organic or local products.

But no matter how you take your turkey or how much is costs, there’s no replacement for the joy of fighting over the last leg with family.

Here's how long it'll take to work off all those calories, food coma not included:

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk. Follow him on twitter at @GavinStern or email him at gavin.stern@scripps.com.

Crews try to improve access to explosion site

November 21, 2014 - 2:39pm

Authorities were concentrating Friday on a way to let businesses resume at least limited operations in the Mission Rock Road area contaminated by Tuesday's chemical explosion.

"Our priority is to open this road, but we have to have safe conditions to do so," Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Mike Lindbery said Friday.

He said there wasn't a set date for when a half-mile evacuation order would be fully lifted or the cleanup would begin.

"We are intensely aware of needs of these people to conduct their businesses and we want to get them in as soon as safely possible," he said.

Twenty-six of the 27 businesses in the evacuation zone near Santa Paula returned to the site Thursday, along with six residents from four homes, to collect tools and other necessary items from their properties.

Samples continued to be collected and tested Friday, and the Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner's Office was checking to see if nearby farmland was affected by the explosion. Thursday night's light rain did not affect the site, officials said.

Southern California Edison officials were successful in restoring power to the evacuation area except the explosion site, Lindbery said.

Numerous agencies, including a regional hazardous materials team and the Environmental Protection Agency, continued trying to better identify the volatile substance that caused a truck to explode Tuesday at Santa Clara Waste Water Co., 815 Mission Rock Road.

When dried, the substance spontaneously ignited, sparking small fires. A Santa Clara Waste official has said the company does not accept hazardous waste and speculated that two inert chemicals mistakenly mixed in the truck, creating an organic peroxide substance. Authorities think sulfuric acid was part of the mix.

Officials were still devising a cleanup plan that will include how best to neutralize the substance and avoid another explosion. Patriot Environmental Services, which is located within the evacuation area, will help with the cleanup.

The latest evacuation information is available at http://vcemergency.com.

How immigration reform could impact labor market

November 21, 2014 - 2:39pm

Jobless claims are down, more Americans are confident enough to quit their jobs and wages are slowly ticking up.

And right when it looked like the balance of the labor market was slowly tipping back toward a positive outlook for workers — a big announcement. (Video via CCTV)

"There are actions I have the legal authority to take as president," President Obama said.

President Obama's executive order on immigration could allow nearly 5 million immigrants to apply for work permits and higher-paying jobs. (Video via Al Jazeera)

So how can we know how Thursday night's immigration reform will affect the U.S. labor market? 

One option is to look at President Reagan's 1986 immigration reform, which granted amnesty to 1.7 million unauthorized workers. (Video via CBS)

That's what The Wall Street Journal did, citing a study that found once many immigrants were naturalized in 1990, "just 4% of farm workers were in the same industry, while roughly a quarter of those workers had shifted over to construction and other laborer jobs with better pay."

And most agree President Obama's action will also raise wages for undocumented immigrants soon able to work legally and find work to match their skills. Left-leaning Center for American Progress estimates an average rise of 8.5 percent.

But the rise in wages for undocumented workers would have little impact on the aggregate wages of the economy as a whole.

As Forbes pointed out, wages for amnestied workers under the 1986 amnesty rose only 6 percent. At that rate, even Nevada — the state with the largest percentage of undocumented workers in its current work force — would see only a 0.6 percent increase in its aggregate wages.

The White House itself estimated in a report the average wages for U.S.-born workers would rise by just 0.3 percent in 2024 — or about $170.

But even without wages, Fortune noted noted more immigrants could help boost the number of jobs in the country, citing a study that showed highly skilled immigrants are twice as likely to start a business as native-born Americans.

No matter the impact the president's immigration reform has on the economy, though, it might be short-lived. Barring further permanent action, these reforms could end — along with Obama's executive authority — in two years.

Minor injuries in Thousand Oaks crash, fire

November 21, 2014 - 1:40pm

Minor injuries were reported in a crash and vehicle fire in Thousand Oaks Friday morning, officials said.

The crash was reported about 10:55 a.m. near the intersection of Velarde Drive and West Avenida De Los Arboles.

A truck carrying chemicals involved caught fire and the Ventura County Fire Department responded.

The incident caused a minor chemical hazard and traffic delays and officials were working to clear the scene as of 1:15 p.m.

Missing man found safe in Ventura

November 21, 2014 - 12:59pm

A man missing since early Thursday has been found safe in Ventura, officials said.

Jordan Basila, 22, was found about 5:30 a.m., said Detective Tim Lohman, a spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

“He was in good health,” Lohman said.

Basila had been missing since 2 a.m. Thursday. He had last been seen in the Newbury Park area.

No other details were released.

5 foodie things to do this weekend (Nov. 21-23)

November 21, 2014 - 12:22pm

From hitting up food trucks for dinner in Ventura to helping Sweet Arleen's celebrate its fifth anniversary in Westlake Village, there's plenty to do in and around Ventura County from Nov. 21-23.

1). Love animals? Love wine? Then you'll love the Wine & Sign event taking place from 5-7 Friday at The Wine Closet in Old Town Camarillo. Sheli Ellsworth, author of "Confessions of a Pet Au Pair," will sign copies of the book detailing traditional and homeopathic treatments while visitors sip wines from Cimarone of Santa Barbara, Carnivintas of Solvang and Rockwall Wine Co. of Alameda. Rockwall donates a portion of profits from sales of its Rock Hound Red and other wines to animal shelters. (2423 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, 383-9812, www.wineclosetinc.com)

2). Some Ventura County food-truck gatherings put on the brakes when winter rolls around. Not Midtown Ventura Food Truck Fridays, which will include the Sweet Arleen's cupcake van, local-favorite Scratch food truck and more than a dozen others when it runs from 5-9 p.m. Friday in the Trader Joe's parking lot at the Pacific View Mall. The event includes live music by The Art Rockers and activities for kids. Proceeds benefit local schools. (103 S. Mills Road, Ventura, 642-0605).

3). How time and Food Network "Cupcake Wars" episodes fly. Sweet Arleen's, the Westlake Village-based gourmet cupcake and bread puddings shop that parlayed three first-place wins on the culinary competition into a franchise operation with locations in Utah, Texas, and Yorba Linda, will celebrate its fifth anniversary Saturday. Day-long specials include $5 deals on peanut brittle and pairs of cupcakes. Visitors from 3-5 p.m. will be treated to tastings, refreshments and drawings for decorating parties. Plus: bite into a pinata cupcake, win a $100 gift card. (960 S. Westlake Blvd., Suite 4, 373-7373, www.sweetarleens.com)

4). Architecture meets holiday baking in the sixth annual Gingerbread House Contest presented by the Friends of Heritage Square in Oxnard -- and Sunday, Nov. 23 is the deadline to announce your intentions to enter the competition. Those who register in time this weekend will be asked to bring in their candy-coated creations a week later (Nov. 30) for display through Dec. 21. Prizes of $50 will be awarded in each of 11 categories, which include "favorite landmark" and "people's choice." For details, click on: heritagesquareoxnard.com/gingerbread-contest.  

5). There's no time like the present to start planning your Thanksgiving meal -- especially when we've got recipes from two local chefs to help jazz up your repertoire. )One even includes a step-by-step video!)

From Sarah Austin, pastry cook at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, there is this recipe that packs all the flavors of pumpkin pie into single-serving cupcakes: Harvest Pumpkin Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting

From Gabe Garcia, executive chef at Tierra Sur restaurant inside Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, there is this recipe: Pumpkin / Butternut Squash Slaw. The highlighted text links to a video of Garcia making the dish.  

This list was compiled by Lisa McKinnon of the Ventura County Star. For between-list updates, "like" VCS Eats on Facebook and follow 805foodie on Twitter and Instagram. To submit information for consideration for future lists, send email to lmckinnon@vcstar.com

 

Stolen gnome returned months later with surprise

November 21, 2014 - 12:12pm

A Washington state couple had their garden gnome stolen from their front porch this summer. They figured they'd never see it again. 

"When a gnome disappears, you never know if he's going to come back," owner Bret Kraupie told KOMO.

So imagine their surprise when they came home Tuesday and saw their gnome — which is named Jimmy — sitting on the front step with an envelope full of photos, according to KOMO

"Someone on a summer vacation decided to take Jimmy along for the ride. They crossed state lines, hit national landmarks, taking pictures all the way to Texas," KOMO reporter Lindsay Cohen said. 

And ABC's Dan Harris couldn't help himself when it came time to report that no one knows who the thief is. 

"Jimmy, thus far, has taken the bit," Harris said.

"Not saying a word?" anchor Robin Roberts said.

"Not saying a word. Mum's the word," Harris replied.

But Jimmy the Gnome wasn't the first of his kind to do a little globetrotting. Travelocity has built an entire ad campaign around a gnome on the go.

And others have pulled that traveling-gnome prank before.

For example, in 2005, a gnome was stolen out of Washington state resident Marianne Severson's garden and returned with photographic proof he'd met several celebrities, including Paris Hilton. 

"I really didn't know it was Paris Hilton until I read the caption in the magazine," Severson said.

Of course, gnome way of gnome-ing if the same person stole that gnome. 

Zookeepers had concerns before gorilla died

November 21, 2014 - 11:58am

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A baby gorilla may not have been crushed to death under an electric door if zoo leaders had responded to zookeepers' concerns about the enclosure's safety, five zookeepers told a newspaper.

The 30-year-old gorilla enclosure had a flawed layout, problems with the doors and was understaffed, the zookeepers told the San Francisco Chronicle in a story published Thursday (http://bit.ly/1FakHwT).

"It was a freak accident," said Corey Hallman, one of the animal keepers. "But with a workplace that takes safety and keeper input more seriously, it could have been prevented."

The 16-month-old gorilla named Kabibe (kuh-BEE'-bay) died Nov. 7 when she unexpectedly darted under the door as it closed.

Zoo Executive Director Tanya Peterson has said the worker operating the hydraulic door failed to keep her hand on an emergency stop button as required.

Zoo officials declined to comment on the keepers' complaints. They are investigating Kabibe's death.

Peterson said in a guest editorial in The Chronicle that the U.S. Department of Agriculture routinely inspects the enclosure, and in January, found no "noncompliant" issues with the exhibit.

"Nothing in recent inspection reports gave me reason to believe there was anything wrong with the exhibit," Peterson wrote.

But an outside investigator found the enclosure is outdated and unsafe. The doors have a history of mechanical failures, including jamming and unexpectedly collapsing, according to zoo records.

An adult gorilla had her hand caught under a door in July 2012, according to zoo records cited by the Chronicle.

The zookeepers say the control panel to operate the doors in the gorilla exhibit also does not have a clear view of all the doors.

"It's a very stressful situation," Dayna Sherwood, one of the zookeepers, said. "You can't always see what everyone's doing."

In a Nov. 6, 2013, email to managers, a zookeeper proposed hiring another person to help move gorillas and chimpanzees into their night quarters.

Amy Corso, one of the zookeepers interviewed by The Chronicle, said the zoo issued a requirement that a second worker be on hand to help while gorillas are moved following Kabibe's death.

Free SiriusXM Radio for 2 weeks

November 21, 2014 - 11:34am

Does your car's stereo have a button for SiriusXM satellite radio that you haven't touched in years?

You might want to give that button it a try.

SiriusXM is offering two weeks of its service free to car owners who never hooked up the service, or had it and dropped it over the years. 

The promotion runs November 19 to December 2, 2014.

CLICK HERE to learn more, or go to www.siriusxm.com.

The satellite company is offering the Thanksgiving freebie in an attempt to boost its subscriber base, which has leveled off in recent years. 

Many people use service free for the first 6 months they own their car, then let it lapse when it's time to start paying.

SiriusXM is not offering its full service free, however, just 60 of its music channels. In addition, the company says the free preview may not work on older satellite radios.

However, I found the service just fine when I hit the "XM" button on my 11-year old Chevy SUV. It's the only button without the paint wearing off, because I haven't touched it in 10 years, ever since my free preview ended.

As always, don't waste your money.

________________________________

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Most Wanted for November 21

November 21, 2014 - 11:32am

Ventura County's Most Wanted is a collection from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office in conjunction with Crime Stoppers. 

Click here for more crime-related stories and VCSD Most Wanted.

Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the suspect. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded.

Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit venturacountycrimestoppers.org. All information provided by Crime Stoppers as collected from law enforcement agencies or supplied by the Ventura County Sheriff's office.

Could your genes be the reason you're single?

November 21, 2014 - 11:21am

Are you one of those people who's always in a relationship?

Or maybe you're perpetually single?

Well, your status might have something to do with your genes, according to a new study out of China.

Researchers in Beijing discovered the gene named 5-HTA1. Carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single.

According to the Daily Mirror: "5-HTA1 is thought to lower serotonin levels - a feel-good chemical - which causes people to feel uncomfortable in close relationships."

Carriers are also generally more neurotic and have a higher rate of depression.

And researchers found those attributes are "detrimental to the formation, quality and stability of relationships."

But some experts questioned the reliability of the research — this was from a relatively small sample size of 600 people, and all of them students.

One relationship expert told the Daily Mail: "If someone's difficulties with dating are flagged up to them, I believe they can learn to interact in a way that will make them more successful in meeting somebody."

Still, when Grandma asks you again this Christmas why you're still not married, you can tell her she's at least a teeny bit responsible.

This video includes images from Know Your Meme and Tom Woodward / CC BY NC 2.0

FSU shooter's paranoia leading up to the attack

November 21, 2014 - 11:20am

New details have emerged about Myron May, the gunman police shot and killed after he allegedly opened fire and wounded three people inside a Florida State University campus library Thursday morning.

Thirty-one-year-old May is an FSU alum who went on to become an attorney. He had recently returned to Florida to start up his own law firm.

But recent Facebook activity lead police to believe May was paranoid the government was out to get him.

"Mr. May had a written journal and videos where he expressed fears of being targeted," Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo said in a press conference

The Inquisitr says the lawyer posted "a number of ominous Biblical passages, a short rant against 'our government' and a bizarre image depicting a Google search for 'targeted individuals.'"

The FSU alum posted on a Facebook page called "Targeted Individuals Worldwide," a group which contends the U.S. government is using mind-control technology to manipulate its citizens.

His post reads: "Has anyone here ever been encouraged by your handler to kill with a promise of freedom?"

Pretty much the same goes for this video May posted on his Facebook page where former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura explores, "Remote Neural Monitoring" a supposed NSA spying technology.

CBS also says there's some "indication" May's psychological troubles extended to his personal life as well.

- Last month, May's ex-girfriend told police he harassed her.
- She said he 'had developed a severe mental disorder'
- She also said he believed 'cops were after him, bugging his phone and putting cameras in his car and home.'
- And he took prescription drugs for ADHD, though the 'affliction had worsened' recently.

Some of the other people who knew May, including the best man at his wedding, say his actions shocked them as well.

"I feel for the people that he shot, but I just want people to know that's not who he was and I believe 100 percent, he was not in his right mind when he did that," said Keith Jones to WCTV.

As for the students of FSU, they came together for a candlelight vigil Thursday night for the three people injured in the shooting. One victim remains in critical condition, another is in good condition and the third victim was released after treatment for minor wounds.

Cranberry sauce: Secrets of the jelly

November 21, 2014 - 10:00am

American stomachs will be the final resting place of about 11 billion cranberries this holiday season, mostly in the form of jiggly canned cranberry sauce.

So what exactly is this stuff?

Cranberry sauce was invented by Marcus L. Urann in 1912 as a way to use cranberries year round, according to Ocean Spray. Canned jellied sauce was first sold in stores in 1941.

Cranberries are native to America and are grown almost exclusively in Canada and the northern United States.

From bud to harvest, it takes 16 months to grow a cranberry. And it takes 200 cranberries to make one can of jellied sauce.

Most of them begin their lives in Wisconsin. Each year, 8 million barrels ($400 million worth) are harvested in the fall, with 95 percent of them processed into juices, sauces and other products, according to Iowa State University.

At Ocean Spray, the lightest colored cranberries are used for sauce, otherwise it might look kind of weird. They’re cooked in a kettle 400 pounds at a time along with some water and added sugar.

The sweet, hot goo is then sent straight to the can, which is sealed and cooled with water. The sauce gels naturally in a day or two because of pectin, a complex sugar in the berries that's also used to make jam.

Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., sold nearly 9 million pounds of cranberries and sauces in 2013. Eight in ten of those purchases are made about a month before Thanksgiving.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk. Follow him on twitter at @GavinStern or email him at gavin.stern@scripps.com.

Gluten-free holiday tips and tricks

November 21, 2014 - 10:00am

For those who are sensitive to gluten, have celiac disease or are avoiding gluten to help weight loss, holiday dinners might seem like a minefield to avoid.

But they don’t have to be.

Most holiday dinner mainstays can be made gluten-free with a just a few tweaks.

One thing to keep in mind- marinades, seasonings, broth and gravy can all contain gluten. Deceptive, right? Check the ingredients list on seasonings, and make sure to purchase an unseasoned, fresh turkey.

To thicken gravy and keep it gluten-free, stir a few tablespoons of rice flour in with the natural juices from the bird as it cooks.

For stuffing, follow the standby family recipe and substitute gluten-free cornbread or gluten-free bread cubes for regular bread.

For pie crust, try gluten-free hard cookies, such as gingersnaps. Process them into crumbs using a food processor, and combine with butter to make a classic crumb crust. Want to make it vegan, too? Substitute organic coconut oil for the butter.

There is no gluten in potatoes, so mashed potatoes are game on-- as long as they are prepared from scratch. Peel potatoes, boil until soft and mash with butter and a little bit of whole milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE: Most dairy products don’t contain gluten, but some with added flavoring do, so it’s important to check the ingredient list.

Whether you’re feeding a group or cooking for one, here are some gluten-free recipes to add to the mix:

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 14-16 ounce bag of Brussels Sprouts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

  1. Chop sprouts into quarters.
  2. Place in a saucepan on medium heat and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Cook sprouts for 20-25 minutes, allowing the outer leaves to caramelize and turn brown in places. Toss occasionally.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve.

 

Maple-Glazed Carrots

Ingredients

  • 12 large carrots, peeled
  • 8 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

 

Directions

  1. Cut carrots into 2" lengths, then halve or quarter the pieces lengthwise so that all the carrots are in equal-size strips.
  2. Melt butter in a large heavy sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add carrots, cover, and braise, stirring occasionally, until carrots are fork-tender, 20–30 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium, and stir in syrup and a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook for 2 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add thyme and mix well.

Serves 8. Recipe courtesy Saveur.com.

Green Bean Casserole with Red Curry and Peanuts

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds haricots verts or thin green beans
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the beans until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  3. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in the coconut milk, red curry paste and the cornstarch mixture until smooth. Add the sauce to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the green beans with the mushrooms. Add the sauce and toss to coat thoroughly. Transfer the beans to a shallow 3-quart ceramic baking dish and sprinkle the peanuts over the top. Bake for about 15 minutes, until heated through and the peanuts are lightly golden.

Recipe courtesy Food & Wine.

Only light rain recorded Thursday night

November 21, 2014 - 9:38am

Only light rainfall was recorded Thursday night and early Friday in Ventura County, but more rain and cool temperatures are forecast for late next week.

According to the Ventura County Watershed Protection District, rainfall totals were 0.03 inch in Oxnard and Port Hueneme and 0.01 inch in Camarillo, Simi Valley and Ojai.

An air mass and strong winds were expected to clear out the clouds, according to the National Weather Service. A warming and drying trend, along with Santa Ana winds, are forecast for early next week.

Wind advisories might be issued Monday and Tuesday. The winds could subside Thursday as another storm system approaches the area.

Ventura County jobless rate dips to 6.3%

November 21, 2014 - 9:32am

Ventura County’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.3 percent last month from 6.4 percent in September, the California Employment Development Department reported Friday.

California’s was unchanged at 7.3 percent. Nonfarm payroll jobs increased statewide by 41,500 in October, for a total gain of 1.4 million jobs since the recovery began in February 2010.

The U.S. unemployment rate decreased in October to 5.8 percent.

This story will be udpated.

Board discusses policy on troubled students

November 21, 2014 - 9:19am

The Pleasant Valley School District has made strides in helping at-risk kids but still could do more, a board member said at Thursday night's meeting.

"We still have kids who fall through the cracks, and it is heartbreaking," Debra Kuske told her fellow board members as they reviewed the district's policy for students who are homeless, using drugs or having serious behavior or academic problems.

The board discussed deleting the district's at-risk students policy because it has been folded into two other official documents: the district's dropout prevention policy and its Local Control Accountability Plan, which helps set spending priorities. The board, however, took no action on the matter Thursday.

Kuske said she's concerned that deleting the at-risk students policy might send a message that the district isn't committed to those kids, even if it is duplicated in other documents.

"These are the kids who often don't have parents who advocate for them," she said. "Everybody's busy, there's very little money in our budgets, and these are the kids who could get looked past as we're trying to allocate here or there."

District staff members suggested the board delete the policy at the recommendation of the California School Boards Association, which helps boards keep policies current and compliant with state law.

Kuske said she hopes the district will "make a stronger statement about at-risk students" to send a message to the community and encourage future boards to support programs for those kids.

Other board members didn't specifically weigh in on Kuske's proposal, but some said they thought the district was doing a number of positive things for troubled youths already.

"Just because we're deleting this policy does not mean we're not taking care of those students," board clerk Kelly Long said.

Superintendent RaeAnn Michael said the district has made big improvements in programs for at-risk students, and she offered to have staff members compile a list.

"Many of us are spending 80 percent of our time on at-risk kids — they're not falling through the cracks," she said.

In other matters Thursday, the board heard a report on the district's child-care program, which has grown to 490 students, up from 195 four years ago. Some child-care sites, such as those at La Mariposa and Tierra Linda schools, are bursting at the seams, said Kelli Sparks, the district's child-care coordinator.

Places in holiday films you may actually visit

November 21, 2014 - 9:00am

When you order pizza, do you tell the driver to “keep the change, ya filthy animal?"

Do you still dream of your "When Harry Met Sally" New Year’s kiss?

If so, you’ll love this map of Holiday movie filming locations. Be sure to zoom in or open the full sized map as several are in NYC, Chicago, and LA.

Ultimate Holiday Movie Locations | My Collection itinerary on Roadtrippers.com!
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Here are a few of the massive list’s highlights:

A Christmas Story
The Christmas dinner scene at Bo’ Ling Chop Suey Palace is one of the most memorable of the movie, and you can still eat there. You just will be getting French food instead of Chinese.

When Harry Met Sally
Most of the scenes are shot at favorite NYC spots… The MetCentral Park, etc., but we know you only want to know where Meg Ryan had her, uh, excellent sandwich. Well, it’s Katz’s Deli.

Home Alone
The house, of course, is the focus of the movie, but you can actually visit the store where Kevin ran away with his toothbrush. Now it’s a Panera.

Home Alone 2
The Waldorf and Central Park are the obvious spots Kevin spends time in, but do you remember the now-defunct little diner from the movie? Or how about the Chicago interior that served as Duncan’s Toy Chest?

See these and other holiday film locations in this article from Roadtrippers.com, including the movies "Die Hard," "Jingle All the Way," "Elf" and more.

Website streams thousands of private webcam feed

November 21, 2014 - 6:27am

British authorities are warning the public about a Russian website that streams thousands of live webcams around the world. 

The site includes webcam feeds of a variety of public places, such as businesses, but many show private residences. Several of the hacked cameras appear to be acting as baby monitors and show children sleeping in cribs. (Video via CNN)

Most of the cams are older models being used for security or to check on homes while the owner is away. The site also gives the location of each specific feed, and although they are coming in from all over the world — more than 4,000 feeds are from the U.S. (Video via Foscam)

It's possible to access to the feeds because their owners haven't changed the default username and password that came with the device, and in some cases, they don't even have a password set up at all. So some argue you can't technically call this a "hack" considering all the data needed to gain access to the cams is readily available on the Internet. 

Sky News spoke with the site's alleged administrator, who said the purpose of the site is to show people how easy it is gain access to the cameras. He also said the site would be taken down "only when all cameras will be password protected."

U.K. Information Commissioner Christopher Graham told the BBC his department is working with Russian authorities to shut down the site, but people should not just sit and wait for the government to handle the situation. 

"It is spooky. But after all, it is the responsibility of the parents to set a proper password if you want remote access," Graham said. 

To get their webcam feeds removed from the site, all users have to do is reset their passwords.

This video contains an image from John Brian Silverio / CC BY NC ND 2.0.