City correct in defending against frivolous lawsuit.
City correct in defending against frivolous lawsuit.
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Council directs staff to seek $78,000 in attorney’s fees

In July of 2015 the City of Fillmore evicted the nonprofit senior center organization from its building on Santa Clara Street. The city proceeded to greatly expand the facility's programs under the name Fillmore Active Adult and Community Center. The entire building was renovated and a new library and internet room was added.

The nonprofit moved to a new location on Central Avenue. It (Fillmore Senior Center) filed suit against the city for untimely termination of the lease. Others thought the suit was frivolous, but Senior Center doggedly pursued the action. The Senior Center lawyer warned the city council that it faced substantial loss of revenue if the suit went forward. The city chose to defend against the suit, and won.

The Senior Center's lease with the city provides that the loser must pay legal fees to the winner in any lawsuit between the parties. Patty Walker, President of the board of Fillmore Senior Center Inc. has stated "We don't have the money." Walker has told the press that she will consult her attorney for further advise. Fillmore's city attorney stated that the issue will be decided in closed session at Tuesday's council meeting.

 


 
(l-r) Councilmember Rick Neal and Councilmember Douglas Tucker will not seek reelection.
(l-r) Councilmember Rick Neal and Councilmember Douglas Tucker will not seek reelection.

Council members Douglas Tucker and Rick Neal will not seek reelection in November.

Speculation continues about their reasons for leaving the Fillmore City Council. Many believe their decision not to run for a second term is based on their connection to a bullying atmosphere which contributed to the suicide of much loved former Fillmore Fire Chief, Rigo Landeros.

At a City Council open goals-setting meeting held two days before Landeros' death, Rick Neal implied some financial wrongdoing by Landeros concerning the fireman's foundation fund. His attack was halted by two council members because the issue was not on the agenda. Former councilman-mayor, Roger Campbell is quoted as saying "I quit talking with them [Tucker and Neal] after the incident with Rigo, and I suspect that's what happened throughout the town of Fillmore."

Both Tucker and Neal deny harassing or bullying Landeros. In February following Landeros' death, the Council passed a new code of conduct regarding council behavior.

Councilman Manuel Minjares is running for reelection and is joined by Tim Holmgren and Mark Austin.

 


 
 


 
 


 
(above) Eagle Scout Pablo Almazan, before moving on to San Jose University. Pablo joined Boy Scout Troop 406 in 2009, and earned his Eagle Scout honor in June of 2016. He earned 33 merit badges and held leadership positions up to senior patrol leader and troop guide. His Eagle Scout project took place at Rancho Camulos, including adding a new flagpole on front lawn with brick finish, and planters. More than 225 hours were spent on the project. Pablo is now attending San Jose State University. Donors: Fillmore Welding, Fillmore Rental, Fillmore Building Supply, Patterson Hardware, Cemex, Aswell Trophy, Advanced Bellows Inc., Otto and Sons, Martin Hernandez, Boy Scouts and parents of Troop 406.
(above) Eagle Scout Pablo Almazan, before moving on to San Jose University. Pablo joined Boy Scout Troop 406 in 2009, and earned his Eagle Scout honor in June of 2016. He earned 33 merit badges and held leadership positions up to senior patrol leader and troop guide. His Eagle Scout project took place at Rancho Camulos, including adding a new flagpole on front lawn with brick finish, and planters. More than 225 hours were spent on the project. Pablo is now attending San Jose State University. Donors: Fillmore Welding, Fillmore Rental, Fillmore Building Supply, Patterson Hardware, Cemex, Aswell Trophy, Advanced Bellows Inc., Otto and Sons, Martin Hernandez, Boy Scouts and parents of Troop 406.
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Above, an architectural rendering of Fillmore’s new proposed fire station, to be located near C Street and Hwy. 126. It is to be finished early 2018.
Above, an architectural rendering of Fillmore’s new proposed fire station, to be located near C Street and Hwy. 126. It is to be finished early 2018.
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A new $8 million firehouse will be constructed by the County of Ventura on a 2.7-acre plot near the intersection of Highway 126 and C Street. The existing station at 613 Old Telegraph Road is too small to allow needed expansion.

The new station will be more than three times the size of the current station at 15,000 square feet. The County has budgeted for 5 new stations: upper Ojai, Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks and lake Sherwood and Fillmore. The Fillmore station will start in October and be completed in 2018.

 


 
This accident occurred on Mountain View, at the railroad tracks. The Valley Express bus stopped at the tracks as it should, but the car failed to notice the move and ran into the bus, suffering major damage. No injuries were reported.
This accident occurred on Mountain View, at the railroad tracks. The Valley Express bus stopped at the tracks as it should, but the car failed to notice the move and ran into the bus, suffering major damage. No injuries were reported.
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A new heavy-duty steel fence now blocks entry to Sespe Creek for the first time in 100 years. This is a serious violation of California Constitutional rights and must be taken down.
A new heavy-duty steel fence now blocks entry to Sespe Creek for the first time in 100 years. This is a serious violation of California Constitutional rights and must be taken down.
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I have hiked up Sespe Creek many times during nearly 30 years in Fillmore. Apparently the property owner at the end of Grand Ave. has decided that he and his chosen few alone are now permitted access to this famous, 32-mile canyon watershed.

It's been a long time since I hiked the Sespe but I will give it another try this weekend if the weather cooperates. But my effort to enter the Sespe again will be met with much more difficulty than in previous years. This, because a heavy steel cable fence has been constructed from the property owner's house, along the roadway for perhaps two hundred yards. This fencing has cut off all the parking area leading to Sespe Creek access.

I've had confrontations with the property owner in the past, if the same man still owns that area. I have a bias here since I had to report the land owner's conduct to the Sheriff's department. On one occasion he threw rocks at me from his perch some 20 feet above the water. On another, he scrambled down the cliff to personally confront me, which was also reported. I have "served" him with papers showing the public right to pass through his property but he was unimpressed. Neither was I as I continued north.

For more than a hundred years citizens of Fillmore have enjoyed trips up the Sespe, often to places like Swallow's Nest and Devil's Gate. The Sespe leads into true pristine wilderness, the land of the condor sanctuary.

On too many occasions in the past various owners of the property, which encompasses the Sespe entryway, have sought to stop public access. Most of us respect private property, as a sacred constitutional right. But it's not an absolute right; it can come with reasonable restrictions, such as easements for important public use. The property enclosing the entry to Sespe Creek is such an area. The property owner may have fee title to the land, but he owns it only subject to a public use easement.

In this case the public's right is much more than a mere easement, it is a state constitutional trust guaranteeing public access and use. Between the high-water mark and the creek bed the public has a constitutionally guaranteed right to enter, and use the area for any lawful activity. Blocking such right of entry can be a criminal offense. The high-water mark in this place in the Sespe is the top of the western bank.

The public's right to enter and use Sespe Creek is based upon the fact that California has determined it to be a "navigable river" under several statutes, supported by case law. It makes no difference if the Sespe is dry as a bone in some years, it is deemed a "navigable river" in law and as such the public cannot be denied entry and use.

In a case involving Piru Creek the court said: "...It is equally well established that although abutting landowners own the land between the high-and low-water marks, their ownership is subject to a public trust for purposes such as navigation, fishing, and recreation." Bess v. County of Humboldt, (3 Cal App 4th at 1544, 5 Cal Rptr. 2d at 399).

Let it be clear, I am not a lawyer. This information was provided by the American Whitewater association which specializes in such cases.

So, the public may access Sespe Creek whenever it wishes, to fish, hunt, camp, or recreate in any lawful manner. According to my research, the fencing at the southern entry to Sespe Creek, which impedes public access, and the sign which threatens trespass proceedings against those who dare to enter the Sespe at the end of Grand Avenue, are unlawful.

At this time complaints are being prepared with various governmental agencies, seeking the removal of all barriers to public entry to Sespe Creek. This includes the Environmental Protection Agency.

Enjoy your hikes - and please report any personal confrontations with the property owner in question.

P.S. I will be making a photo hike up the Sespe this weekend or next. I'll let you know how it goes.

 
Brooke Allen and “Sophie” won Grand Champion, 4-H Champion and earned $1,900. Photos by Bob Crum.
Brooke Allen and “Sophie” won Grand Champion, 4-H Champion and earned $1,900. Photos by Bob Crum.
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The Ventura County Fair auction.
The Ventura County Fair auction.
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Ryan Nunez and her pig named Boi.
Ryan Nunez and her pig named Boi.
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Daniel Torres and his pig “Happy” won Reserve Grand Champion/FFA Champion.
Daniel Torres and his pig “Happy” won Reserve Grand Champion/FFA Champion.
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Erin Berrington and “Red Bull” won Reserve FFA Champion Market Steer.
Erin Berrington and “Red Bull” won Reserve FFA Champion Market Steer.
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(left) Daniel Gonzales with Jesus Zamora and his Reserve Grand Champion Chickens.
(left) Daniel Gonzales with Jesus Zamora and his Reserve Grand Champion Chickens.
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Twelve-year old Brooke raised a goat that weighed in at 76 pounds and named Sophie. Sophie was awarded Grand Champion, 4-H Champion and fetched $25.00 a pound for a tidy total of $1,900. Remember, she was selling a mighty fine Grand Champion.

What makes a youngster like Brooke want to raise a goat. Brooke explained that her mother had asked her if she'd like to attend a FFA (Future Farmers of America) show. “I did,” she said, “and that's how I got into it.” In the end, Brooke ended up in the Sespe 4-H club.

Don't bother trying to talk Brooke into raising a pig, or sheep or anything else. She'll quickly tell you all the reasons why not to raise anything but a goat.

Grand Champion goats just don't fall down from trees so there must be something to raising a goat to win such an honor. Listen and learn: “I ran her... and there's a 4-5 foot hill in the back yard that I made her jump up and down it.” Thinking Brooke might have misspoke I said “you made Sophie run up and down the hill?” “I made here jump up and down it”, Brooke admonished. I stand corrected.

Obviously a champion goat must demand a special diet. “Nothing special, just goat pellets that you can buy at the local feed store,” said Brooke, adding that they can't eat tin cans or things like that, they're actually very picky”. OK, I understand that but then I asked about a goat like Sophie eating my weeds. “She'll eat the weeds,” she said. Hmm... a four-legged weed eater that doesn't need gasoline to do it's job. I like that.

OK, what are you planning to do next year, I asked. “Another goat.” No sheep, no steers, how about a turkey, I asked, adding they earn good money. Brooke chuckled but said she might do a steer one year. Maybe.

Always ask about any special experiences raising their animal, in this case Sophie. “One time I was lying down and she came up and laid down next to me, like a big dog.

Of course we want to know about Brooke's plans for the auction proceeds. “Put it towards next year's project,” said Brooke.

Where did Brooke find her majestic goat? “Up in Bakersfield,” she said, adding, “they were in a pack and I chose her.” What made you think that she'd be a grand champion? Brooke explained: “You don't really know until you work it out but when I picked her out you kind of look for the best muscle and the biggest butt.”

Brooke sure knows about goat butts so I anticipate I'll be shooting photos of her in the auction ring again next year.

Ryan Nunez, 17, attends Fillmore High and participates in the FFA program. This year, Ryan raised a pig who answers to the name Boi. Well, that is when Boi is paying attention.

Given the innate insubordinate nature of pigs, raising one must be quite the chore. Or not. "He was pretty easy to raise, quite fun and probably one the best pigs I've raised", said Ryan. This was Ryan's fourth year raising, showing and selling swine.

In the auction ring, Boi, awarded the title of FFA Reserve Champion Market Swine, fetched a robust $10 a pound. And what will become of the proceeds? “Save it”, Ryan immediately said. You don't touch the savings account? “I did a couple of times for a computer and whatnot while confessing that she does not have 14 pairs of shoes in her closet.

Boi is the exceptional pig. According to Ryan: “He was easy to maintain, likes walks and he actually listened to me. He loved water and he loves to be have his belly scratched rolling over like a dog.

His diet? “Regular swine feed sometimes adding oats,” Ryan said, adding, “sometimes doughnuts, bananas or cake. Oh boy, I figured Boi surely had a weight problem. “Not really, said Ryan. “I could feed him whatever I wanted until we got here (at the Fair) and he was good weight, a hefty 259 pounds. Maximum permissible weight is 270 pounds.

What do I need to know if I was to raise a pig next year I asked. (I just might... ya never know) Here's the lowdown, according to Ryan. “You really have to care about it, you can't just think it's a joke. You have to take it serious, and like, you have to really enjoy animals.” And you have to be really dedicated.

In closing, Ryan said: “Boi was a good experience, I really loved it.” Raising championship swine is obviously all about loving what you do. Might also be said about raising all animals.

Next year? “Another swine,” Ryan said with a smile.

Daniel Torres, 18, also raised a pig that weighed in at the maximum allowable 270 pounds. Whew... one more doughnut and out of the competition. As it was, Daniels pig, named Happy, was awarded Reserve Grand Champion/FFA Champion that sold for $20 a pound... a total of $540.00. That's a happy sum.

Daniel is no stranger to winning... have won show championships for three consecutive years. Of course, maybe because Daniel gets his pigs to raise from bacon city Bakersfield.

And as it was, Daniel said that raising Happy was relatively easy, no real issues except weight. Keeping Happy happy on a diet was not an easy feat but Daniel was bound and determine to not let Happy get over the magic number.

Again the theme is dedication when I asked Daniel about what it takes to raise a championship pig. “It's a long process that that requires total dedication for the few months you have the animal,” Daniel explained. Adding, “it takes a lot of money and parent support. If you don't have parent support you won't make it. If you're going to do it, you have to do it right and a good backup (parental) helps. All my life I had good backup, everything I needed to do I could do because I had good parents and I greatly appreciate it.

Did you pick out Happy yourself?, I asked. “Oh yeah, I picked her out myself. She's called a cow pig by Billy Barns because all her markings make her look like a cow,” explained Daniel. But what do you look for (besides markings) when picking out a pig? “You don't want one that looks too muscular. Nice and even along the back, nice and even on the front. Just not to muscular because you can put muscle on her any time.

Daniels plans include attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to study Agriculture.

Erin Berrington, 15, raised a 1,375 pound Reserve FFA Champion Market Steer. The behemoth is named Red Bull. Why? “Because he's red and acted like a bull when he was little,” she explained. Makes perfect sense.

I noticed that Red Bull can be shall I say... rambunctious? “Yes, when he's touched by people that he doesn't know. Sometimes kids will go up and touch him and he gets really crazy and tries to kick them, “Erin explained.

Erin obtained Red Bull last October. Since then, I imagined that a monumental task was about to ensue.

“When he was little, I started working with him three days after I got him,” Erin said, adding, “it was easy. But as he got older, he also got more (hesitated momentarily) crazy.”

So I assumed that Red Bull was difficult to raise. “Not really, only when he was around other steers... he just wanted to play.

Was Red Bull on any kind of special diet? “Oh yes, a lot, Red Bull was 50 pounds over weight the day before the Fair so I had to hold him back on grain and water,” explained Erin. Maximum weight allowed is 1, 400 pounds and Red Bull slid in at a suave 1,370 pounds.

How did Erin achieve the goal of making weight. “The day before I didn't give him any water, and only a scoop of grain. Then traveling here to the Fair, he was kind of nervous so he peed and pooped a lot.”

Worried? “Yes, I was, I was really worried that he wasn't going to make weight,” Erin quickly said, adding, “and I heard that the scale was weighing heavy. Well shoot, what if he weighs 1,400 and he goes over,” she wondered.

At auction, Erin's Red Bull was bought for $3.75 a pound for a total of $5,156.25. Was Erin OK with that? “Yeah, I'm OK with it... it is what it is... and I didn't win anything like big so...”

Next year? “Another steer, she said. This is Erin's sixth year, all of them raising steer except raised a lamb one year. Was the lamb the first year. “No, it was the fourth year,” she said. So, you took a year off by raising the lamb? “Yes,” she said, “and I regretted it. It was horrible. I do not recommend that.” The problem? “I was little then and it kept knocking me over,” said Erin. Oh, and this 1,375 behemoth can't knock you over? “Yes but I have a halter on him and he's like a puppy dog,” she said with a giggle.

Words of wisdom? “Be prepared to be scared of being stepped on and the steer ramming you,” she said. If the beast steps on... “it could break your foot,” she said, before I finished the sentence. Ever happen? “The year I won Grand Champion and he was put aside, he was on my foot the whole time. I started crying and people thought I was crying because I won but really he was stepping on my foot and it hurt and I couldn't get my foot out from under him,” said Erin. A single word comes to mind: Ouch! Luckily, no broken bones.

Upon high school graduation, Erin intends to enter college to prepare for a career in nursing.

Jesus Zamora raised three market roasters that were awarded Reserve Grand Champion chickens. The winning bidder paid $1,100 for for Jesus' three chickens. I could not find Jesus for an interview to include with this story.

Some kids acknowledge that parents play a very active part in their children's experience raising their animal of choice. All those that do deserve a huge heaping of accolades.

FFA teachers and 4-H leaders also deserve equal praise for all that they do. Perhaps being akin to brick layers... paving the solid road down which the youngsters travel on the way to becoming mature, educated contributing members of society. As such, the kids always have, and will continue to make, the United States the great country that it is today.

In the many years of covering this awesome activity, I've seen so many kids grow into wonderful, mature human beings as a result of the adults responsible for the 4-H and the FFA. Kudos to you all.
Lastly, the staff of the Fillmore Gazette, and no doubt the community at large, congratulate the kids who were honored with an award. To all the kids who raised and animal and participated in the Junior Livestock Auction at the Ventura County Fair... well done.! Not only did you do yourself proud, we all are also very proud of everyone of you!

Here's to looking forward to another fantastic Fair next year!

 
(center) Jose “Froggy” Estrada after winning his 2nd Pro MMA Fight at the LA Exchange
(center) Jose “Froggy” Estrada after winning his 2nd Pro MMA Fight at the LA Exchange
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Professional MMA Fighter Jose “Froggy” Estrada now ranks 2-0. On August 11th he fought MMA Fighter Christian Cardona from Torres MMA, “Las Vegas, Nevada”. The fight lasted about 2:44 seconds in the first round. Froggy used
his wrestling and ground game, also known as “ground and pound” to finish the fight. Next fight may possibly be
out of the state in Colorado or Mexico City. Fight date is to be determined.

“I want to give a big thanks to all you Fillmore residents who believe in me, and do what you can to support me as I put our good ol’ little Fillmore on the map. If anybody is looking for extra style of working-out or wants to come see what I do, come check out my gym, Westcoast Jiu Jitsu, 2945 Los Olivos #101 Oxnard, CA 93036. We provide classes for kids and adults,” Jose “Froggy” Estrada.