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Nearly 1 million renew in Covered California

January 30, 2015 - 11:04am

Nearly 1 million people with insurance in 2014 through Covered California renewed their plans for this year, according to leaders of the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

The 944,000 people who were automatically renewed or changed their plans represent about 92 percent of those eligible.

Covered California officials said they're still working with about 80,000 people who could not be automatically renewed or have not chosen another plan.

Three insurers offer coverage through Covered California in Ventura County: Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente.

County figures were not available, but across the state, 93.6 percent of Anthem customers up for renewal stayed with the company, according to Covered California data.

At Blue Shield, 94.7 percent stayed with the insurer, and 99 percent of Kaiser customers stayed with it.

Religious groups plan events

January 30, 2015 - 10:00am

CAMARILLO

Church will meet at Camarillo theater

The new Mission Street Church meets Sundays at 9:30 a.m. at the Edwards Theater, 680 Ventura Blvd. A children’s program also is offered.

The congregation raised $1,000 from its Christmas Eve service offering to give to RAIN, a transitional housing community in Camarillo that provides housing and many other services for homeless families, particularly women and children. The check was presented Jan. 25 to RAIN.

The church’s mission is to “help dechurched people become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ” and its motto is “no perfect people allowed.” Members are committed to giving to local and international agencies and missions both financially and through service.

For more information, visit http://www.missionstreetchurch.com.

SANTA ROSA VALLEY

Chabad women’s group plans spa day

Chabad Jewish Women’s Circle of Ventura County will host a Women’s Luncheon, “Spa for the Soul,” a day of inspiration, relaxation, and rejuvenation for the Jewish woman.

The event will be held Feb. 8 from 9:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at a private residence in the Santa Rosa Valley. The program will include workshops on happiness, self-improvement, and Jewish philosophy.

Wellness classes offer trigger point therapy, Alef-Bet yoga, skin care, free microdermabrasion treatment, and makeup application. A gourmet buffet lunch will be served. The girls of Lamplighters Jewish Academy will perform ballet, and a raffle drawing with more than 30 prizes will take place.

The featured entertainment will be Esther Rachel Russell, a speaker, trainer, coach, laughter therapist, performer, educator, and CEO of Joy Breaks Barriers. Russell’s comedic career began at the Groundlings Improvisational Comedy Theater in Los Angeles where she wrote and performed in numerous comedy sketches with many “Saturday Night Live” stars.

The cost is $45 if reserved by Monday. Late reservations and walk-ins are welcome for $54. Event address will be provided at registration or by contacting Devorah at 807-8684 or info@JewishMoorpark.com.

A “Junior Spa Program” for girls ages 8-13 will run simultaneously at the same location with a full schedule of crafts, entertainment, activities, games, lunch, and more. Cost is $20. Gift certificates are available.

To register, visit http://www.jewishmoorpark.com/spa.

THOUSAND OAKS

Rain and religions topic of CLU event

Learn about and discuss drought from different religious perspectives, share a vegetarian lunch, and participate in a service project at California Lutheran University on Friday.

“Hoping for Rain: Interfaith Day of Study and Service” will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish holiday marking the beginning of a new year for trees. Cal Lutheran Rabbi Belle Michael will discuss the holiday, which falls on Wednesday this year.

The day will begin in Lundring Events Center, where Michael and three religion faculty members will discuss drought and the hope for rain in relation to different faiths. Rose Aslan, an assistant professor, will cover the Muslim faith. Rahuldeep Gill, an assistant professor, will talk about Sikhism. Michael will discuss the Jewish faith. Sam Thomas, an associate professor, will explore the topic from the Christian perspective.

At 1:10 p.m., a vegetarian lunch will be served in the nearby Sustainable Edible Education Project Garden. A period of reflection will follow. Lunch is $8 for community members. To make a reservation for the lunch, visit http://www.CalLutheran.edu/CampusMinistry/events.

The event will conclude with a service project in the garden, where students and staff grow produce to support the campus’ sustainability efforts and the local food movement. Volunteers will participate in various activities, including planting native, drought-tolerant plants and installing water-saving irrigation lines.

There is no charge or RSVP required for the lectures and service project. Lundring Event Center is in the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center on the north side of Olsen Road near Mountclef Boulevard on the Thousand Oaks campus, 60 W. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks. For more information, contact Michael at bmichae@callutheran.edu or 493-3644.

VENTURA

Pastor will discuss proof of heaven

The Rev. John Martin, former pastor of Church of the Foothills, will discuss the books “Map of Heaven” and “Proof of “Heaven” on Feb. 12 from 1-2:30 p.m. at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 6300 Telephone Road.

The author, Dr. Eban Alexander, is an academic neurosurgeon whose near-death experience convinced him of the journey of the soul and survival beyond death.

An interfaith discussion will follow the free presentation. For information about this All Faiths Women of Vision event, call Ruth at 642-5583.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE

Joni and Friends to host ministry event

Joni and Friends International Disability Center will present a Global Access Conference, inviting individuals from across the U.S. and around the world to be trained and to network in the area of ministry to those with disabilities. The conference will take place Feb. 17- 20 at Calvary Community Church, 5495 Via Rocas.

The program will bring together disability leaders, ministers, educators and practitioners to share experiences, forge relationships, and learn how to practically and effectively promote disability ministry in the Christian community.

Four tracks will be offered during the conference: leadership development and biblical counseling; ministry in sensitive cultural contexts; mission and disability ministry; and technology and disability.

Cost is $299, which includes all sessions as well as lunch, dinner, snacks and beverages during the conference and transportation from prearranged hotels. More information is available online at http://www.globalaccessconference.org.

Search firm swapped for Ventura superintendent

January 30, 2015 - 9:15am

After the firm the Ventura Unified School Board selected to find the next superintendent included a number of hidden fees in its contract, the board changed course and selected a new company Tuesday night.

But the decision was not without controversy — two of the five board members voted against the decision because they favored a third firm.

Superintendent Trudy Arriaga, who has led the district for the past 14 years, will retire this summer.

“This is not an easy process,” said board member Velma Lomax, who voted against the board, along with member John Walker. “We haven’t gone through this in many, many years.”

The board selected Leadership Associates, a Riverside area search firm that focuses on finding California candidates, and won’t charge travel fees or other undisclosed costs. Walker and Lomax favored McPherson and Jacobson, a firm that partners with the California School Board Association.

Leadership Associates will charge $24,000, a fee that includes all costs except travel for applicants, who will need to pay their own expenses if they come to Ventura for an interview. McPherson, a nationwide firm, had proposed charging a flat fee of $26,500, which would have covered travel expenses for applicants.

In a meeting earlier this month, the board voted 3-1, with Walker dissenting, to select Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, part of the nationwide consulting firm Ecra Group. Vice president Barbara Fitzgerald was absent from the meeting due to illness.

When the board received the contract proposal, President Debbie Golden noticed that it included a number of hidden costs. In addition to the flat fee of $24,500, the contract included covering travel expenses for the consultant, who lives in Illinois, as well as office expenses and charges for background checks, advertising and telephone use.

“We just felt that the base price could have gone way up, and we wanted to make sure we hired consultants that could do a great job for us but also who could keep costs low for us,” Golden said.

The district will pay the fees from its general fund.

Walker and Lomax said they favored the third firm because the lead consultant spoke Spanish and would be better able to communicate with parents at community meetings the district plans to hold requesting input on the selection process.

The two board members also liked that McPherson included a three-year guarantee in its contract, meaning that if the superintendent the district hired left within three years, the firm would conduct another search free of charge.

“Given the fact that, for California superintendents, the average (time in a district) is three to five years, I kind of thought that was a big deal,” Walker said. “I don’t want to pay to do this again in a year or two or even three years.”

Leadership Associates’ contract has a one-year guarantee.

Although the vote did not go their way, both Walker and Lomax said they support the search process as it moves forward.

Meanwhile, Golden said the majority of the board felt that the Leadership Associates firm was the best pick because it’s California based and its lead consultant knows Ventura County well.

“They were really interested in holding community forums as well as having other opportunities for people to contact the board via email or fax or telephone if they’re unable to attend the meetings, and we liked that,” she said.

The district plans to hold several community meetings in February to gather input on the superintendent selection process.

The board’s decision to select a new search firm has pushed back the anticipated selection date a few weeks, to late April or early May, Golden said.

“I think what I learned is we probably should have looked at the proposals a little bit more closely and also maybe spent more time during the interview to ask pertinent questions,” she said. “In the end, we’re still able to have a great option.”

Romney will not run for President in '16

January 30, 2015 - 8:56am
WASHINGTON (AP) — After a three-week flirtation with a new campaign for the White House, Mitt Romney announced Friday that he will not seek the presidency in 2016.   "After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I've decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee," Romney told supporters on a conference call.   Romney's exit comes after several of his former major donors and a veteran staffer in the early voting state of Iowa defected to support former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.   Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would have served as Romney's most likely rivals for the support of the Republican Party's establishment-minded voters.   In his call with supporters, Romney appeared to take a swipe at Bush, saying it was time for fresh leadership within the GOP.   "I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well-known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee," Romney said. "In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case."   The former governor of Massachusetts, who is 67, had jumped back into the presidential discussion on Jan. 10, when he surprised a small group of former donors at a meeting in New York by telling them he was eyeing a third run for the White House.   It was a monumental change for Romney, who since losing the 2012 election to President Barack Obama had repeatedly told all who asked that his career in politics was over and he would not again run for president.   On Friday, Romney said he had been asked if there were any circumstance under which he would again reconsider. That, he said, "seems unlikely."   "Accordingly, I'm not organizing a PAC or taking donations," he said. "I'm not hiring a campaign team."   The exit of Romney from the campaign most immediately helps those viewed as part of the party's establishment wing, including Bush, Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.  

The more conservative side of the field is largely unchanged, with a group of candidates that will likely include Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee   In the three weeks since the meeting in New York, which caught several in attendance off-guard, Romney made calls to former fundraisers, staff members and supporters, and gave three public speeches in which he outlined his potential vision for another campaign.   "I'm thinking about how I can help the country," he told hundreds of students Wednesday night at Mississippi State University.   In that speech, and what amounted to a campaign stop a few hours before at a barbecue restaurant with Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen in tow, Romney sounded every bit like a politician preparing to run.   "We need to restore opportunity, particularly for the middle class," Romney said then. "You deserve a job that can repay all you've spent and borrowed to go to college."   But as Romney sounded out his former team about putting together a new national campaign, he discovered that several of his past fundraisers had already made plans for 2016 and were now committed to Bush.   Several key former Romney donors told The Associated Press this week that in Bush they see someone who can successfully serve as president, as they believe Romney could. But they also think Bush has the personality and senior staff needed to win the White House, something the former Massachusetts governor could not bring together in his two previous presidential campaigns.   "I've got great respect for Gov. Romney, and I busted my buns for him," said Chicago investor Craig Duchossois, whose wife contributed $250,000 to a pro-Romney super PAC while he collected tens of thousands more for Romney's last campaign. "But I have turned the page."   Romney also lost one of his most trusted political advisers on Thursday when David Kochel joined Bush's team. Kochel, who led Romney's campaign in Iowa in 2008 and 2012, is in now line to play a senior role in Bush's campaign should he run.   Romney's decision against running clearly pained him, and he took no questions from supporters on Friday's call.   "You can't imagine how hard it is for Ann and me to step aside, especially knowing of your support and the support of so many people across the country," Romney said. "But we believe it is for the best of the party and the nation."

Westlake Village's Hayley Kiyoko unveils new EP

January 30, 2015 - 8:30am

Since the Southern California weather was cooperating on Saturday, Hayley Kiyoko decided to pretend it was summer. She slipped into a bikini, slipped on a pair of big shades and soaked up some serious vitamin D by the pool. You can check out the picture on Instagram.

Hayley Kiyoko

The singer-songwriter will perform songs off her new EP, “This Side of Paradise,” at 9 p.m. Feb. 6 at Bootleg HiFi, 2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. Air Life and TeamMate will open the show. Tickets are $12. Call 213-908-5344 or visit foldsilverlake.com. Kiyoko’s website is hayleykiyokoofficial.com.

As Monday neared, she issued this tweet: “Took advantage of my last relaxing weekend for a while. From now until March I will be going full throttle!!”

That she will. The 23-year-old Kiyoko, who grew up in Westlake Village and graduated from Agoura High School in 2009, is busy juggling dual careers as an actress and singer.

On Thursday, she finished filming the final episode of the first season of “CSI: Cyber,” a new CBS series debuting March 4 about a team of FBI agents who police the dark corners of the Internet, “where criminals are anonymous, money is untraceable and where everything is for sale with just a keystroke.” She plays Raven Ramirez, an expert in social media, cyber trends and international relations.

“Don’t mind me, just living my dreams working for the FBI,” she wrote Wednesday on Instagram. “Today I got to jump out of an SUV with special agents and I was geeking out.”

She’s even more psyched about the release Tuesday of her latest EP, “This Side of Paradise,” and her headlining show Feb. 6 at Bootleg HiFi in Los Angeles. Beginning Feb. 20, she hits the road with Never Shout Never for a two-month national tour.

 

 

“I’ve been working on this new EP all year and am super-excited to finally share it with everyone,” Kiyoko said. “I spent months finding my sound and creating something I truly believe in.”

‘So rewarding’

Kiyoko was involved in every aspect of making the EP, from the music to the artwork to directing the music videos.

“Being unsigned, I did everything myself,” she said, adding that she “couldn’t be prouder.”

“It’s been so rewarding to build something from the ground up and trusting myself, knowing if the product is good, everything will work out,” she said.

She describes the genre as “indie/pop.”

 

Steel Wool Records

Kiyoko’s new five-song EP, “This Side of Paradise,” comes out Tuesday.

“This EP is really bass heavy, and the drums have hip-hop influences layered with melodic harmonies and vocal pads,” Kiyoko said. “My focus was to make music that I would want to listen to every day. I just hope my fans will enjoy listening to the entire EP and can connect to it in some way, whether it’s bobbing their head, sharing a heartache or singing in the car.”

Kiyoko’s father, Jamie Alcroft of Thousand Oaks, said his daughter is “staying true to her pattern” of providing an equal measure of rock and soft ballads.

“Hayley never ceases to surprise and delight us and her fans,” he said.

Garage band

To record “This Side of Paradise,” Kiyoko teamed up again with U.K.-based producer James Flannigan, her collaborator on the 2013 song “Rich Youth.” She flew him out to L.A. and they built a makeshift studio in her parents’ garage. For two weeks, they “ate, breathed and slept music” while they recorded the five-song disc.

“I wanted to challenge what pop already is,” Kiyoko says on her website. “There are electronic elements in what I do, but it’s organic and live at the same time. I aimed to find a happy medium.”

The first single, “Given It All,” is about “giving everything” to a relationship. “It’s got this big, powerful, and positive sound, but the lyrics tell a different story,” she says on her website. “You’re really giving so much energy to the other person that you feel drained to the point where you can’t give anymore. I love juxtaposing those two feelings within the sound.”

 

 

“Given It All” got a thumbs-up from Entertainment Weekly, which called the track a “bubbly electropop jam that combines big, rave-worthy synthesizers with an even bigger bubble gum melody.”

The EP takes it name from the title of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. While writing music, Kiyoko noticed the book on a shelf and immediately felt inspired. “I loved the whole notion it implied,” Kiyoko says on her website. “It’s my point-of-view, though, on what paradise can be.”

‘Life is fun’

“CSI: Cyber” — in which she stars opposite Patricia Arquette, James Van Der Beek and Shad Moss (aka Bow Wow) — is Kiyoko’s first television series, but she’s no stranger to acting. She played Stella Yamada in the Disney Channel movie “Lemonade Mouth” and has done guest spots on “The Vampire Diaries,” “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “The Fosters.”

Kiyoko has two feature films slated for release this year, including her co-starring role in Focus Features’ “Insidious: Chapter 3,” slated to hit theaters May 29. She’ll also star as Aja in a live-action adaptation of the classic ’80s cartoon “Jem and the Holograms.” The film, produced by Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, is slated to hit the big screen on Oct. 23.

Though she’s having a blast acting, music remains her true passion.

She started writing songs while a student at White Oak Elementary in Westlake Village.

“I loved the challenge of learning a new instrument and finding new melodies within their different tones,” recalled Kiyoko, who also attended Lindero Canyon Middle School in Agoura Hills.

“There was never really an eye-opening moment where I found the answer to what I loved to do,” she said. “Since Day 1 I’ve loved creating and putting things together. Every year I continued to create and tackle new avenues. And it just kept growing.”

After her tour she plans to continue performing and spreading the word about her music.

“Life is fun, and I am just enjoying the ride,” Kiyoko said.

Ventura names new finance, technology director

January 30, 2015 - 8:23am

The city of Ventura has hired a finance and technology director with experience working in Central and Northern California cities.

Gilbert Garcia will start Feb. 17.

“In addition to his technical expertise, Gil brings with him solid management skills, creativity, and a demonstrated record of fostering teamwork and accountability,” City Manager Mark Watkins said in a news release.

The city has been without its top two finance officials since earlier this month, when assistant finance director Rudolph Livingston left to become Ojai’s finance director. Former finance director Jay Panzica started as the city of Roseville’s chief financial executive officer and treasurer in June.

Public Works Director Rick Raives has been serving as interim finance director.

Garcia comes most recently from the city of Lincoln, where he spent roughly nine months as administrative services director, overseeing budget, finance, information technology and central services, the release said.

Between 2006 and 2014, Garcia held various positions for the city of Oakland, starting as assistant budget director and later becoming deputy director in the police department.

Before that, he spent nine years with the city of Stockton, starting as senior accounting office assistant and rising to program manager in the budget office, the release said.

Gilbert received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Fresno State University and is a member of the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

“I look forward to joining Ventura’s energized management team, making a positive difference, and being part of such a beautiful and family-oriented community,” he said in the release.

Oxnard to give away smoke detectors

January 30, 2015 - 7:02am

The Oxnard Fire Department is giving away smoke detectors to city residents.

The giveaway is intended to prevent fire-related deaths. The risk of dying in a house fire is reduced by half when working fire alarms have been installed in the home, according to a news release from the city.

Smoke detectors should be tested monthly. A smoke detector is low on batteries or needs to be replaced once a “chirp” sound comes from the device, the city said.

To get a free smoke detector, call Brad Kerman, the department’s public education specialist, at 385-7705 or visit Oxnard fire’s administration office at 360 W. Second St. The department will also install the device for free if necessary.

Monument for slain Oxnard bystander installed

January 30, 2015 - 6:01am

A monument for a bystander killed by Oxnard police was installed without fanfare this month at the site of his shooting in the La Colonia neighborhood.

The granite monument for Alfonso Limon Jr., the 21-year-old shot to death in October 2012 when officers mistook him for a violent suspect as a chaotic gunfight unfolded, was installed the first week of January, said Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams. There was no ceremony.

The monument stands outside the fence of a small parking lot near Garfield Avenue and Cooper Road. It was there that Limon, walking home with his brother, was first accidentally shot in the leg as officers returned fire at a fleeing suspect. Limon fell to the ground wounded and was later shot by other officers who believed he was a suspect, according to authorities. In all, five officers shot at Limon, with 16 bullets leaving 21 gunshot wounds.

The monument was required as part of a $6.7 million settlement between Limon’s family and the city. An inscription on the base reads, in English and Spanish: “Earth guards your body, the Creator guards your soul, and we guard your memory. We love you and will always remember you.”

Rap mogul arrested on suspicion of murder

January 30, 2015 - 5:35am

Former rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight has been arrested after his suspected involvement in a hit-and-run incident that left one man dead on Thursday.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Knight, 49, is being held on suspicion of murder and has a $2 million bail.

Capt. John Corina of the Los Angeles Country Sheriff's Department told the newspaper that Knight was arguing with two men at about 3 p.m. Thursday on the set of the upcoming movie "Straight Outta Compton." About 20 minutes later, the two men were leaving a nearby restaurant when Knight ran them over with his truck in the parking lot.

Witnesses told police that the truck knight was driving hit the pair before backing over them and driving away.

One victim, believed to be 55-year-old Terry Carter, died. The other victim, identified by Entertainment Weekly as Cle Sloan, 51, was injured. The Los Angeles Times reports at least one of the victims was a member of the film crew. The man's death is being treated as a homicide.

In 1991, Knight co-founded Death Row Records with Dr. Dre. The label was instrumental in pioneering the gangster rap subgenre that became popular in the early 1990s. Among the label's artists were Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur.

Knight has been arrested several times, serving prison time in 1997 for violating his parole from a previous assault case. In October 2014, he was arrested in Las Vegas after allegedly stealing a photographer's camera.

DUI crackdown planned for Super Bowl Sunday

January 30, 2015 - 5:30am

As the Super Bowl nears, officials are urging motorists to designate a driver or plan a sober ride home ahead of Sunday festivities.

The Automobile Club of Southern California analyzed crash data from the California Highway Patrol and found a 77 percent increased risk of alcohol-related traffic collisions causing injury and death across the state on Super Bowl Sunday.

The analysis reviewed the number of alcohol-related fatal and injury crashes occurring from 5 p.m. Sunday through 4 a.m. the following day for the last five Super Bowls and compared it with other Sundays in January and February.

There have been 294 fatal and injury crashes on Super Bowl Sunday the last five years.

Another recent AAA report found that 10 percent of motorists admit to driving when their blood alcohol level was above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

“Super Bowl Sunday celebrations and alcohol consumption go hand-in-hand,” said Chris O’Quinn, the CHP’s assistant chief. “The CHP encourages game-day fun but discourages driving under the influence and any other unsafe driving. If you plan to drink, please prevent a tragedy by designating a sober driver, calling upon public transportation or considering Tipsy Tow service as a reliable option.”

The auto club’s Tipsy Tow service will give a drunken driver and their vehicle a tow home for free for up to 7 miles. After that, the driver is expected to pay the rate charged by the tow provider. The service will be offered from 6 p.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. Monday. The tow provides a one-way ride for the driver but not passengers.

The CHP and some other law enforcement agencies will have DUI checkpoints and expanded patrols Sunday. As part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk” campaign, Thousand Oaks police will deploy DUI saturation patrols from 3 to 11 p.m. at previous hot spots for DUI-related crashes and arrests, officials said.

“Drunken driving is completely preventable,” Thousand Oaks police Capt. Jim Fryhoff said. “All it takes is a little planning. We want fans to remember that it’s a choice. Drink or drive — but never do both.”

Thousand Oaks police also said those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications should remember that drinking small amounts of alcohol can intensify the impairment effects.

Four killed In Kabul shooting

January 30, 2015 - 5:26am

Three U.S. contractors and one Afghan national are dead after a shooting Thursday in Afghanistan. 

The shooting happened Thursday evening on a base at North Kabul International Airport. Several sources say the gunman was an Afghan soldier or someone in an Army uniform, though those reports haven't been officially confirmed. 

But if true, this would be another so-called "green-on-blue" attack, where Afghan soldiers or police officers turn their weapons on coalition forces. There have been fewer of these attacks in recent years, but this one comes just weeks after the U.S. and NATO officially ended their combat mission in the country.

Around 12,000 coalition troops, mostly from the U.S., are still stationed in Afghanistan and are focused on training the country's security forces.

Thursday was an especially violent day across Afghanistan: A suicide bomb targeting a funeral killed 17 people and injured 36 others, while a separate Taliban attack on a village killed 18, including seven Taliban soldiers.

First 5 wants to hear from Ventura Co. parents

January 30, 2015 - 5:01am

First 5 Ventura County wants to hear from parents as it plans for the future.

The publicly funded agency provides child development, health and support services for children up to age 5 and their families. As officials develop a strategic plan, they want to find out what parents think is needed and what challenges they face in Ventura County.

Surveys are available in English and Spanish online through Feb. 9 at http://www.first5ventura.org. For a paper copy, contact Kathy Rangel at 648-9990 or krangel@first5ventura.org.

The information is confidential and will be used for planning local programs and services, the agency said.

KCLU wins five awards

January 30, 2015 - 5:00am

National Public Radio station KCLU won five Golden Mikes for excellence in broadcast news coverage at the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California's 65th annual awards ceremony held recently at the Universal Hilton in Universal City.

Four of those awards were won by news director Lance Orozco. He captured awards for best news reporting, best entertainment reporting, best sports reporting and best use of sound.

Jim Rondeau, the station's former director of operations and programming, who is now the director of college broadcast services at Saddleback College, was honored for best newscast under 15 minutes.

KCLU won half the awards given out in its division for radio stations with five or fewer staff members. Broadcast newsrooms from San Luis Obispo to the Mexico border competed.

KCLU has won more than 80 Golden Mikes since 2001.

KCLU serves Ventura, Santa Barbara and southern San Luis Obispo counties and can be found online at kclu.org. The station is a community service of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

IRS Eases Repayment Rules

January 30, 2015 - 4:19am

Consumers who received too much in federal tax credits when buying insurance on the health law’s marketplaces last year got a reprieve of sorts from the Internal Revenue Service this week. Although they still have to repay some or all of the excess subsidies, the IRS won’t ding them with a late payment penalty if they don’t repay it by the April 15 tax deadline.

“They’re trying to make this work,” says Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University who’s an expert on the health law.

The amount people received was based on an estimate of their 2014 income. At tax time, that amount has to be reconciled against consumers’ actual income on IRS Form 8962. If consumers or the marketplace underestimated their 2014 income, they may have received too much in tax credits and have to pay back some or all of it.

How much people have to repay is based on their income and is capped at $2,500. People with incomes over 400 percent of the poverty line have to repay the entire amount, however.

This penalty reprieve only applies to the 2014 tax year. The IRS will allow people to repay what they owe on an installment basis. But be forewarned: Interest will continue to accrue until the balance is paid off.

Please contact Kaiser Health News to send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Longtime Ventura College art teacher dies at 93

January 30, 2015 - 2:33am

William H. McEnroe, who was hired in 1950 to help develop the art department at Ventura College and then spent the next 32 years teaching there, died Jan. 25 at his home in Olympia, Wash. He was 93.

Donna Granata, founder of Focus on the Masters, a nonprofit organization based in Ventura that researches and documents the lives of area artists, announced McEnroe’s death on Thursday.

“Bill was an instrumental figure in helping to shape the Ventura County art community and beyond,” Granata said in a news release.

MCENROEART.COM
This piece by William H. McEnroe is titled "Covered Bridge."

According to Granata, McEnroe was hired by Ventura College not long after he graduated from Stanford University. To populate the college’s fledgling art department, he went on the hunt not only for good teachers, but exceptional artists who were making a name for themselves in the contemporary art scene. Among his first hires were Jack Baker, to teach painting, and William Winterbourne, to teach ceramics. Soon, the full-time art faculty expanded to 14, including Carlisle Cooper, Gerd Koch and Hiroko Yoshimoto.

It wasn’t McEnroe’s plan to stay at Ventura College. “I thought Ventura would be a temporary stop en route to Yale,” he told Granata.

But stay he did. Over the next three decades, he taught watercolor, art history, art appreciation and scene design. He chaired the college’s Fine Art Division for 14 years and was the founding director of the New Media Gallery.

Hooked on art

From his first class as a 9-year-old in Fargo, North Dakota, McEnroe was hooked on art.

“I didn’t even know what art was but I thought, ‘This is what I want to do with my life,’ ” McEnroe told The Star in 2011.

McEnroe’s family moved from Fargo to a suburb of Boston and, when he was in high school, he began taking life drawing classes at the Boston Museum School of Fine Art.

After the United States entered World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and served from 1942 to 1946 on submarine chasers in the Atlantic and Pacific. According to Granata, he was assigned to a high-speed personnel carrier in San Francisco, which delivered 5,000 troops to various South Sea battle areas. In 1945, McEnroe was aboard the first ship to enter Japan’s Osaka Harbor after atomic bombs dropped at Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

When the war ended, McEnroe enrolled at Long Beach City College on the GI Bill. A summer painting course in the High Sierras, offered by San Jose State College, plunged him deeper into art.

“It was wonderfully thrilling and we were painting all day, every day,” he told The Star.

Encouraged by the dean, he enrolled at San Jose State, majoring in art and theater. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1949 with honors, married Carolyn Rucker, a sculptor, and went right into a graduate program at Stanford University.

“I knew if I wanted to go into the academic world I had to have more in my pocket than a bachelor’s,” he said.

McEnroe took as many credits as possible at Stanford.

“I studied 23 hours a day,” he said. “I didn’t even let my wife wear corduroy because it made noise when I was studying.”

The result was a master’s degree in 1950, again with distinction in art.

MCENROEART.COM
This pastel, titled "Country Store," was inspired by a store William H. McEnroe used to visit as a kid in a tiny village in northern Vermont.

While at Stanford, he was recruited by Ventura College and hired to begin teaching that summer.

“I was the No. 2 man of a two-man art department,” he said. “In 1951 Jack Ball left, making me the sole member and department head.” The college moved to its present location in 1955 and the art staff eventually grew to 14 full-time instructors and the department expanded to include music, theater, photography and dance.

After 14 years, McEnroe got tired of the administration aspect of the job and went back to teaching and painting.

“We bought a large, old house two blocks from the campus to accommodate an expanding family of five children,” he said. “I used to get up at 4 a.m. and paint in an old shed just to find time in a busy schedule, which began with 8 o’clock classes. I eventually built a big, beautiful studio.”

Watercolor had always been his medium of choice.

“Watercolor has a swagger about it, if done right, that other mediums lack,” he said. He was elected a signature member of the National Watercolor Society in 1961.

‘New adventures’

McEnroe retired from Ventura College in 1982. In 1989, after a brief stint living in Cambria, California, he and his wife moved to Olympia.

McEnroe always encouraged his students to take risks. “The greatest rewards await the artist who is prepared to go off on completely new adventures,” he wrote on his website, mcenroeart.com.

MCENROEART.COM
This William H. McEnroe painting is titled "Call of the Loon."

Over the course of more than 50 solo shows, he heeded that very advice.

“I operate on the premise that the wheel has already been invented, several times,” McEnroe wrote. “While it may be comforting to paint the cute, red barn over and over, the bigger challenge is to find other, newer ways to paint the same subject. My goal is to create something that has never been seen before, something exciting and new.”

In Olympia, he discovered two new passions: pastels and poetry.

“All my art junk was in storage when someone gave me a 12-stick set of colored pastels and, whoopee, I was off,” he told The Star. “Need a color? Pick up a stick and, wham, there it is, glowing, no mixing, no messing with brushes, no solvents.”

Experimenting with pastels, he developed a technique he called “fractured light.”

“I randomly break up the unity of an area by inventing spaces for new colors within the boundaries of another color,” he said. “It’s always an excursion of discovery. The marvelous thing about this process is there is no formula. You are discovering as you go — hey, I can use this color. Two colors collide and vibrate against each other. It’s endless what you can do. Really thrilling.”

In 2010, he published a book of his paintings titled, “La Grande Livre,” accompanied by free verse poetry.

“I never wrote a line until 2010,” he said. “It seemed to me this was a proper way of interpreting the visual part of it. Then I discovered I had a penchant for this. Almost every painting I’ve done since, I’ve written poem about. It seemed like an natural extension; sign the painting, write a poem.”

McEnroe is survived by his wife of 67 years, Carolyn; twin sons Shawn, of Tumwater, Washington, and Kelly, of Ventura; daughters Darcy Chutan of Oxnard, Meredith Meersman of Alexandria, Virginia, and Stephanie McGregor of Olympia; four nieces and nephews; and five grandchildren.

To see his art and read his poetry, visit mcenroeart.com.

We had questions, he had answers

In February 2011, The Star asked McEuen to answer a quirky set of questions about his life and career. These are his answers:

Describe your art in three words, without using adjectives: Scrambled invented facts.

Color that best represents you: The color that happens to be on my brush at the moment.

Smell that best represents your art: Chocolate and cinnamon (spicy and deep).

Object that best represents Ventura County: In the 1850s, ships from the East Coast called at Ventura Bay and traded goods for cattle hides from coastal ranches and delivered them back east to be made into leather goods. Today, I imagine it’s oil, table produce, citrus and new-age industries.

If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you would be?: I would be the captain of a four-masted square-rigged sailing ship who also wrote poetry.

Favorite place for artistic inspiration in Ventura County: Upper Sespe Creek.

Someone who inspires you who is not an artist: Maya Angelou (poet and writer).

Art supply you can’t do without: Erasers.

Best advice you’ve received about art: “Nolo bastardo carborundrum” (“Don’t let the bastards get you down”).

First thing as a kid that you drew or painted?: “Henny Penny and Her Chicks.”

Something posted on your refrigerator: The next doctor’s appointment.

How would you define a “master”?: One who has exhaustively and deeply explored all aspects of his profession.

Favorite comic strip: “Pogo.”

“I’m most proud of ___ “: I am most proud of my wonderful family.

Favorite flower, cereal and candy: Black-eyed Susan daisy, Blueberry Trail Mix, homemade fudge.

Who do you think will win the Oscar for best picture?: I couldn’t care less.

“An artist is ____ “: An artist is an Explorer!

Ventura beats Buena to clinch CIF berth

January 29, 2015 - 10:35pm

After seeing its 28-0 lead shrink to 28-24 in Thursday night’s Channel League showdown with crosstown rival Buena, the Ventura High boys wrestling team put its postseason fortunes in the hands of sophomore Joel Lopez and junior Chris Reyes.

Lopez, wrestling at 126 pounds, pinned Xavier Mendez to end the Bulldogs’ string of match wins at five and up the Cougars’ lead to 10 points.

A few minutes later, Reyes (132) sealed the victory for Ventura when he pinned Boula Markos as the Cougars won by a 40-30 margin.

Ventura earned second place in the Channel League behind champion Dos Pueblos, clinching a spot in the CIF-Southern Section Team Duals in two weeks.

“Words can’t describe how amazing it feels to go out there and do that for my team,” Lopez said. “With the crowd cheering, it was an amazing atmosphere. I knew I could pin him. I knew we needed the points and to do it for my teammates feels awesome.”

“It’s the best moment of my life,” Reyes said. “It feels amazing to go out and score the points that won the match for our team and clinches us a spot in the Duals.

“After seeing Joel pin his man, I went out there with the idea of going hard and not giving up. To end up pinning him feels so amazing.”

As Reyes came off the mat following the win, the junior leapt into the arms of head coach Mike Gacha as his teammates surrounded him.

“For those kids, it makes all the hard work seem worth it,” Gacha said of Lopez and Reyes. “They’ve both had some struggles, so for them to do what they did tonight is great to see. Those are the moments you live for as a coach.”

Gacha and his coaching staff opted to roll the dice in the early matches by having their first three wrestlers go up a weight class.

Luke Tada, normally at 138, earned six points against Nico Priedo, who had to retire early due to an injury, in the 145-pound match.

Justin Ledesma, usually at 145, moved up to 152 to take on Paul Munoz. In one of the closest matches of the night, Ledesma won 8-6.

Diego Kress won his match with Brady Yarbrough with a decision and Brandon Hickle (170) pinned Josh Mizrahi.

“I knew I was going to beat him,” Hickle said. “He is a good wrestler. His style is a little funky, but I felt like I could pin him. We wanted to get off to a fast start.”

After Justin Yale (182) won his match over Adan Andrade by decision, Angel Abundez (195) finished off Ventura’s roaring start with a pin of Roberto Martinez.

“As a senior this is my last time here, so it feels great to go out and win and help my team,” Abundez said.

Down 28-0, Buena refused to quit.

Anthony Ross defeated Tyler Gacha 8-4 for Buena’s first points. A few minutes later, heavyweight Tristan Castro pinned C.J Alarcon to pump up the Buena faithful.

“I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and I knew I needed to do something for my team,” Castro said.

Freshmen Juan Gutierrez (106) and D’Angelo Jones (113) followed with pins. Marquis Moreno (120) beat Zach Weisshaar by decision to cut Ventura’s lead to 28-24.

But Lopez and Reyes turned the momentum back to Ventura for good.

“I’m disappointed with the outcome, but I love the way we performed,” said Buena’s first-year coach Kane Hobbs. “I loved the way our kids just didn’t give up and they just kept fighting.

“We have a very young team so this was a great measuring stick for us to see where we are at. It’s also a great learning experience for us to grow on. Ventura is a great team and they wrestled well tonight. We’re disappointed but we feel good about our team’s future.”

Faith leaders call for end to homelessness

January 29, 2015 - 9:52pm

A group gathered at the foot of the Ventura City Hall on Thursday, calling on business, faith, civic and community leaders to finally, at last, once and for all, end homelessness.

They held signs — “Let’s come together to end homelessness,” “Ending homelessness is good for everyone” and “Housing First! Everyone deserves a helping hand!” — as vehicles drove by with drivers honking in support.

“This is not about divisiveness. This is not about confrontation,” said the Rev. Jan Christian of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura. “It’s about how we’re going to work together to end homelessness.”

The Ventura Interfaith Ministerial Association organized the event, galvanized in part by the recent violence against a homeless man, nearly burned alive as he slept on a city beach.

“It’s time to identify a place for a crisis center,” Christian said.

The act “horrified” Rabbi Lisa Hochberg-Miller of Temple Beth Torah.

“It violates our humanity to the core, does it not?” she asked the crowd of roughly 100.

Hochberg-Miller said in her 18 years in Ventura, she knows of thousands of hours spent on task forces and committees, heard various leaders pledging support.

She could not have imagined all these years later, “so little progress has been made.”

Organizers urged people to come to Monday night’s City Council meeting and speak up on the issue.

Sue Brinkmeyer, interim director of Lift Up Your Voice, a homeless ministry within the Unitarian Universalist Church, plans to be there.

She’ll be asking the city for a zoning change, which would required if there can be any shelter of the kind she envisions.

There are areas in the city where overnight shelters are permitted, and areas where daytime social services are permitted. But there is nowhere in the city where the two are allowed together without a use permit.

There is no year-round shelter in Ventura, only a seasonal one that opens between Dec. 1 and March 31. It opens at 6 p.m. and all who stay must leave by 6 a.m.

“Instead of turning them in to our parks and tourist centers, keeping them where we can help them get what they need” should be the goal, she said.

Brinkmeyer favors having various locations being allowed to offer such services.

As the speeches finished, the group sang of peace and of standing together for change.

Abigal Austin, 11, of Ojai, sang as her dad played as part of a guitar duo.

“I don’t think it’s fair or right to have anyone sleep on a bench or in a park,” she said. “So I stand with people who say we should try to end it.”

Monday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. at 501 Poli St.

2 horses struck, killed by vehicles west of Piru

January 29, 2015 - 9:26pm

Two horses died after being hit by vehicles Thursday night on Highway 126 just west of Piru, sending at least two people to a hospital.

The California Highway Patrol reported the crashes about 6:08 p.m. on Highway 126 near Hopper Canyon Road.

Both horses died in the crashes, the patrol reported.

Rescue crews reported one person suffered minor injuries and another suffered moderate injuries. Both people were taken to Ventura County Medical Center, officials said.

Westbound lanes of Highway 126 were still blocked at 6:50 p.m. but were reopened by 8:30 p.m., the patrol reported. Two cars were being towed away with major front-end damage, CHP said.

Responding agencies included the Fillmore Fire Department, Ventura County Fire Department and Santa Paula Fire Department.

Oxnard beats Hueneme to take over 1st

January 29, 2015 - 8:41pm

Releaguing took a sharpener to the already thin line between the best and the rest in the Pacific View League.

And no one is riding that edge, right now, better than the Oxnard High boys soccer team.

Winger Raymond Pereira finished playmaker Miguel Coronel’s cross in the 65th minute as the host Yellowjackets won by a one-goal margin for the fourth straight PVL match Thursday night, 1-0 over visiting Hueneme.

“We play these close games all the time,” first-year Oxnard coach Chris Conte said. “Every game is so close.”

The result pushed Oxnard (12-3-3, 4-1-1) into sole possession of first place, a win ahead of idle Pacifica (11-3-1, 3-1-1).

“It puts us on a good trajectory,” Conte said, “not only in league but for playoffs, too.”

Hueneme (2-4-3, 1-3-1) starts as many freshman (two) as seniors (two), after graduating 14 seniors off last year’s PVL title-winning team. But Oxnard was admittedly wary, considering the talented Vikings had won the teams’ previous meeting, 2-0, on Jan. 13.

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“We have moments when we play,” Hueneme coach Tuck Engelman said. “But sometimes we let other teams take us out of what we’re trying to do.”

Oxnard dominated much of the first half without taking advantage.

Coronel’s beautiful cross created a golden chance in the 15th minute and Arthur Morales’ back-heel set Coronel up in the 39th minute, but the finish was dragged wide.

“I was mad, but I wasn’t going to get down on myself,” Coronel said. “I was going to go harder ... It doesn’t matter how many times you miss, it matters how many times you score.”

Hueneme woke up just before halftime with a pair of impressive flurries that nearly netted the opening goal.

“It’s a game of opportunities,” Engelman said. “If you don’t take advantage of them, you don’t win.”

The momentum carried over into the second half and nearly paid off in the 52nd minute, when sophomore Erik Lopez drove a 30-yard rocket off the Oxnard crossbar.

“That was really scary,” Pereira said.

Just as a 10-minute spell of pressure hinted toward another Hueneme win, Oxnard struck in 15 minutes to play.

An Oxnard break was half-cleared, which Coronel collected along the left sideline. The senior attacker skipped past a defender and floated a near-post cross for Pereira to force home.

“I took some guy and I just chipped it,” Coronel said. “Raymond came in and just headed it in.”

Said Engelman: “It was like four waves and we only brought three on that play.”

With just five teams in the league and eight matches in league play since Camarillo’s move to the new Coastal Canyon League, the result means Oxnard will have a chance to clinch the PVL by beating second-place Pacifica next Thursday.

“We’re in a good spot,” Perreria said.​

Steps taken to control measles at Simi preschool

January 29, 2015 - 7:07pm

Public health nurses and others worked Thursday to contain a measles exposure that could involve more than 40 people at a Simi Valley preschool.

A child was diagnosed with the contagious disease earlier this week in a case linked to a Disneyland trip, according to Dr. Robert Levin, Ventura County public health officer.

Initially disclosed without details about age or the preschool on Tuesday, the case is one of eight in Ventura County.

The child attends Little Explorers Preschool Academy in Simi Valley and was there Monday and Friday, sparking concerns about exposure, Levin said.

A preschool official identified the child as a toddler now in quarantine at home. She said more than 40 people, including staff members and students, were at the preschool Monday and Friday.

She said tests confirming the illness have not been received, but the child’s symptoms and trip to Disneyland led to the measles diagnosis.

In the wake of that, public health officials administered blood tests at the school to figure out who is immune. The preschool official who asked not to be identified said 99 percent of the preschoolers and staff members previously had been vaccinated.

The official said the toddler diagnosed with the illness also had previously received the first of two doses of the vaccine. The other dose is given before children enter kindergarten.

At least one child received vaccine this week as a potential blockade to the illness, Levin said. The vaccine can protect people from the virus if used within 72 hours of the original exposure. Others were given a serum, immune globulin, that can offer protection within six days of exposure.

The preschool includes a program for infants. Four children less than a year old — too young for the vaccination — were given immune globulin.

“It will either prevent them from getting measles or make it milder,” Levin said.

Until health officials can confirm immunity, people who could have been exposed are being asked to stay at home or at the preschool.

The preschool, 5165 Cochran St., remains open to existing students and staff members.

Levin said the immune globulin and an estimated societal immunity rate of 95 percent make him think the site is safe. He also noted that it operates as a closed community, meaning outsiders have little access.

Public health officials have contacted parents and others who could have been exposed.

“It’s a highly contagious disease, so we’ve done everything we can to contain it,” Levin said. “We’re not going to know we’ve finished this until we stopped having the cases.”

As of Wednesday, 79 people in California were diagnosed with measles. More than 50 of the cases are linked to Disneyland.

A week ago in Ventura County, public health officials scrambled to contain exposures at CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo and a Citibank branch in the same city.

The Little Explorers official emphasized that no one else has shown symptoms and that parents and staff members are following public health instructions. She said there’s no reason for panic.

“Everyone is doing what they can to make sure our kids are safe,” she said.

The illness is rarely fatal but can cause complications that can put people in the hospital. It may take as long as 21 days for the virus to emerge.

Symptoms include cough, runny nose, reddened eyes and high fever. Two or three days after the first signs, tiny white spots may appear in the mouth. Then a rash can emerge, starting on the face and moving downward.

On the Net: http://www.cdc.gov/measles