VC Supervisor Kathy Long addressed Tuesday’s city council. She asked the council to inform Federal Receiver J. Clark Kelso of Fillmore’s opposition to the conversion of the present California Youth Authority facility in Camarillo to a 1,500-bed maximum security prison hospital. Such a plan presents significant economic, housing, employment and safety problems for Ventura County.
VC Supervisor Kathy Long addressed Tuesday’s city council. She asked the council to inform Federal Receiver J. Clark Kelso of Fillmore’s opposition to the conversion of the present California Youth Authority facility in Camarillo to a 1,500-bed maximum security prison hospital. Such a plan presents significant economic, housing, employment and safety problems for Ventura County.

Fillmore City Council held a meeting September 9, 2008, at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. The Council decided to oppose the proposed conversion of the California Youth Authority Correctional Facility (CYAC) to a Medical and Mental Health Facility (MHF) for adult prisoners. The Council approved an engineering expenditure for preparing a response to the draft FEMA map. The Council heard arguments from the public for Measures H and I. The Council received a report from the Heritage Valley Tourism Bureau.

Supervisor Kathy Long spoke to the council about the disadvantages of converting the CYAC to a MHF for adult prisoners. She said that the proposal resulted from a federal court action requiring a certain number of such facilities in each state, and that California was falling short. Receiver J. Clark Kelso, who is responsible for implementing the court order, has chosen locations for several facilities, including the CYAC between Oxnard and Camarillo. The MHF would house Third and Fourth level inmates, and would create 5000 new jobs in the area. An analysis by the California Hospital Association indicates that the MHF would drain the local hospital workforce because of the current nursing shortage. Medical personnel would move from local healthcare facilities to higher paying jobs with the MHF, which would offer to almost double their salaries. Long mentioned that St. John's Hospital, Santa Paula Hospital, and Los Robles Hospital oppose the conversion, as do law enforcement leaders, who believe that the MHF would change the composition of the community for the worse by bringing in inmate's relatives and visitors. Long claimed that an existing housing shortage and lack of appropriate roads to accommodate the increased population would cause problems. According to Long, Camarillo cannot provide any water to the MHF, and Oxnard's sewer system cannot provide for the increased usage. The Ventura County Board of Supervisors opposes the conversion, and in cooperation with other organizations is lobbying Kelso to choose another site. Long believes that Kelso will listen because other communities would welcome an MHF. The CYAC is underutilized, but the Board and others want to increase usage in a way that would serve the local community without being a drain on resources. The Council voted to oppose the conversion because of the effect it would have on Santa Paula Hospital and Fillmore's Urgent Care facility, which could increase the cost of healthcare.

Public Works Director Bert Rapp reported on the progress against FEMA's draft map, and the Council approved additional expenditures not to exceed $57,000 for research and reports to convince FEMA to change its map. Rapp explained that there are questions as to whether FEMA correctly modeled the flooding possibilities. Rapp and experts have noted that FEMA's map shows the Highway 126 bridge at an inaccurate angle. Councilmember Scott Lee advised Rapp to include a picture of the bridge demonstrating that inaccuracy in his next report to FEMA. As a safety precaution, levees have a freeboard area on top which extends three or four feet beyond the expected flood level. FEMA policies state that if any part of a levee's freeboard is below the expected flood level, then the area should be modeled as if no levee exists there. According to FEMA, floodwaters at the levee at the Highway 126 bridge would encroach upon the freeboard by a few inches. FEMA refuses to acknowledge the aluminum I-beams erected by the Army Corp of Engineers to stop flood waters, and therefore is requiring automated flood gates at the Sespe Creek Levee at the railroad. If a new more accurate hydrology analysis indicates that the water flow is less than FEMA's estimate, then there might be no encroachment. A special report could persuade FEMA to revise the map. FEMA has already agreed to revise their Pole Creek analysis. Fillmore had agreed to collaborate with the Ventura County Watershed Protection District on research, but the collaboration might not allow for enough analysis and might not be completed in time. Some of the $57,000 will be paid by developers and some will come from levee assessments which homeowners have already paid. CONTINUED »

 


 
Groundbreaking for the city’s new skateboard park took place Tuesday. From left, City Attorney, Ted Schneider, City Manager, Tom Ristau, Dir. Public Works, Bert Rapp, J.J. Rangel, Mayor, Steve Conaway, Mayor Pro-tem, Cecilia Cuevas, David Lugo, and Councilman, Scott Lee. The skate park is expected to be completed by December, 2008.
Groundbreaking for the city’s new skateboard park took place Tuesday. From left, City Attorney, Ted Schneider, City Manager, Tom Ristau, Dir. Public Works, Bert Rapp, J.J. Rangel, Mayor, Steve Conaway, Mayor Pro-tem, Cecilia Cuevas, David Lugo, and Councilman, Scott Lee. The skate park is expected to be completed by December, 2008.
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Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

On September 5, 2008 , at approximately 11:15 A.M, deputies from the Fillmore Police Department assisted Ventura County Probation Officers with a contraband search in the area of the 900 block of Ortega Street in Fillmore. During the search, suspect Luis Luna 45 of Fillmore, was arrested for multiple counts of a felon in possession of a firearm.

The Fillmore Police and Probation Officers were conducting a search for probation violations. During the search, officers discovered that ex-felon Luis Luna was under the influence of methamphetamines and in possession of three shotguns. Under California law, ex-felons are not allowed to possess firearms.

In this case, patrol and probation officers took a dangerous criminal combination of a felon, guns and drug influence off the streets of Fillmore. Mr. Luna was arrested for felony weapons charges (12021(a)(1) and a misdemeanor charge of under the Influence of controlled substances (11550 (a) H.S). Courtesy of Fillmore Police Department Ventura County Sheriff.

 


 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

Location: Mountain View Street at Sespe Avenue, Fillmore, CA
Date & Time: 09/05/08 / 6:35 P.M
Suspect: Hispanic male, 30’s. No physical description
Victim: 11 year-old female

On 09/05/08, at approximately 6:35 P.M, deputies with the Fillmore Police Department responded to a reported assault that occurred in the area of Mountain View Street and Sespe Avenue.

The victim’s guardian reported that her 11 year-old told her about the incident immediately after it occurred. The 11 year-old told her that a Hispanic male adult had just approached her on Mountain View Street and pushed her to the ground. The victim stated that she was able to fend off the adult male suspect who then fled in a black,1980’s Honda with rear tinted windows.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact the Fillmore Police Department, at (805) 524-2235. Additionally, Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 805-385-TALK (385-8255).

 


 
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department wants to alert the public of a current crime spree perpetrated against unsuspecting hikers. Theft suspects have been targeting hikers’ unoccupied vehicles at the “Thomas Aquinas” trailhead located in the 10000 Block of Santa Paula Ojai Rd. North of Santa Paula.

In the past three weeks, victims have reported eleven vehicle break-ins at the trailhead. Investigators believe the suspects are opportunists that wait for hikers to park their cars. Once the unsuspecting hikers walk away, the suspects smash the vehicles’ windows and steal any valuables left behind. The suspects seek cash, jewelry, I-Pods, credit and ATM cards, identity cards etcetera.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department wants to remind the public to always lock their vehicles and not leave any valuables in their vehicles when left unoccupied. Covering a personal item with a towel is not good enough. These suspects know you have items hidden under jackets and towels. Please call with any tips of suspicious vehicles or persons in the Sulfur Springs/Santa Paula Canyon..

If a member of the public becomes a victim of a theft, report the crime to your local police immediately. Have them send the courtesy report to the Ventura County Sheriff, Fillmore Station. If credit or ATM cards are stolen, victims are encouraged to call their bank and cancel the cards immediately

Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at (805) 524-0970 ( Fillmore ), (805) 494-TALK (Thousand Oaks / Moorpark) or (805) 385-TALK (Camarillo / Oxnard / Port Hueneme).

 
Fillmore Fire Department
Fillmore Fire Department

On Thursday, September 11, in remembrance of the terrorist attacks on our country, at 6:55 a.m. Firefighters will be at attention and in complete silence as the colors are raised. At 6:59 a.m. – the moment the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed – the county’s Fire Communication Center will dispatch an all-county attention tone followed by four sets of five bells. These bells honor the 343 New York firefighters, the law enforcement personnel and civilians who lost their lives as the result of the terrorist attacks. A minute of silence will then follow.

The City of Fillmore Fire Department would like to invite members of the community to join us for the brief morning tribute dedicated to those who generously gave their lives while trying to save the lives of others. Following the ceremony residents are invited to join station personnel for coffee and donuts.

 
California Highway Patrol
California Highway Patrol

On September 4, 2008 at approximately 10:40 a.m., a fatal traffic collision involving two vehicles and three freeway maintenance workers occurred on SR-126 westbound, just east of the Edwards Ranch Road over crossing.

Steven R. Higgins, 49 years of age from Ojai, was driving a flatbed truck with a pull trailer, westbound on SR-126 in the right lane, just east of the Edwards Ranch Road over crossing. For unknown reasons, the vehicle swerved from the right lane and onto the right shoulder where it traveled over a raised asphalt curb. Higgins attempted to regain control and overcorrected his vehicle. The truck then swerved to the left and traveled back toward the fast lane where it struck a Mercedes Benz, driven by Marvin Chandler, 42 years of age, from Las Vegas, Nevada. The impact caused Chandler’s vehicle to travel out of control into the right traffic lane. The truck and trailer combination traveled out of control toward the center median where a maintenance crew, under the supervision of Cal-Trans, was actively working. Higgins was unable to stop as the truck and trailer combination struck three of the workers who were in the median. After striking the workers, both the truck and trailer flipped onto their right sides and came to rest, blocking both the center median and the left traffic lane.

Emergency personnel from the Ventura County Fire Department and the California Highway Patrol arrived on scene shortly after. One of the maintenance workers, whose name was not yet releasable, was pronounced deceased at the scene. A second worker, identified as Felipe Reyes, 29 years of age, suffered critical injuries including a severed leg. He was later airlifted to the Ventura County Medical Center. The third worker, identified as Matt Turnquist, 23 years of age, suffered minor to moderate injuries. The remaining workers, identified as Brock Dozier and Chris Stalsworth, were able to avoid the collision and were uninjured. Both Mr. Higgins and Mr. Chandler were transported to local hospitals and suffered only minor injuries.

SR- 126 westbound was closed between Briggs Road and Edwards Ranch Road for several hours while a Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) from the California Highway Patrol conducted an evaluation of the collision scene. The cause of the collision is still under investigation at this point in time.

Regional news about the accident on Thursday, September 4th.

 
PiruFest 2008.
PiruFest 2008.
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PiruFest 2008.
PiruFest 2008.
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PiruFest 2008.
PiruFest 2008.
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PiruFest 2008.
PiruFest 2008.
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PiruFest 2008.
PiruFest 2008.
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Hundreds of friends, families and visitors joined together in downtown Piru this Labor Day Weekend to celebrate Piru at the end of summer annual event. Held at the Piru Depot and Gazebo Plaza Park in the historic downtown district and stretching along a pedestrian trail toward Warring Park, this year’s festival featured a wide range of activities for all ages and interests. Seen enjoying the day’s offerings were Julian and Margaret Rangel, lifelong Piru residents, who at age 90 took the walk down the pedestrian trail to join in the fun. During the day, we spotted the prematurely born infant daughter in the arms of one of the members of the Friends of Piru School, helping mom promote the groups fundraiser for class field trips as she celebrated her seven month birthday.

Early in the morning, vendors and participating exhibitors set up colorful displays in the grassy parkland and along the plaza. This included backing in a fishing boat and kayaks for the Lark Piru Recreation Area display, where festival goers purchased their raffle tickets for a chance to win one of two half-day pontoon boat rentals donated by Recreation Resource Management. Nearby, organizers for the horseshoe tournament were busy setting up the horseshoe pits and signing up the two dozen competitors. Just down the trail, artist Carlos Callejo organized his youth volunteers and painting materials as they launched a community art mural on a wall that had become a target of graffiti. This project will transform this wall into a beautiful representation of historic and unique Piru images.

The event kicked off at noon with a Native American elder offering blessings for the day and all present. She was followed by elders and descendants performing traditional dances and drummers filling the plaza air. As they were wrapping up, professional skateboarder Steve Badillo and friends from Skatelab set up ramps and jumps to please the crowds. The highlight of their performance was a series of jumps over the van that brought them and their equipment to the Center Street stage area.

Even more colorful activities unfolded as the gazebo plaza was graced by the music and dancing of Inlakech Cultural Center. Their mariachi music and folkloric dancing was exceptional for these young talented artists. As the evening cooled, following a hot day in the sun, Dan Torres and the Piru River Band lit up the Gazebo Stage with their always popular tunes of yesterday and today.

During the day, several food, craft and information booths dotted the plaza and Center Street area. Poncho’s Restaurant and Juarez Catering offered just some of the tasty treats. Information and crafts booths included Lake Piru, Rancho Camulos, healthy dental tips and information from Dr. Mark Pratt, American Red Cross resources, Piru Cemetery District’s Measure M handouts, Piru Jewelry by Ramona, Mina’s Discount Center clothing and music offerings, and Celebrate Recovery resources, among others.

Special acknowledgements to the Piru Neighborhood Council for sponsoring this annual event. This 2008 PiruFest also received support from the Piru Petroleum Club, Fillmore-Piru Citrus Association, Ventura County Redevelopment Agency, Lake Piru, Laverne Nursery, Rancho Temescal, Diamond Street Cleaning, plus others.

 

It is not locally well publicized yet, however as reported by Timm Herdt on June 26, 2008 in the Ventura County Star, Fillmore is involved in Sales Tax Revenue Sharing Agreements, and at least two California cities, are up in arms.

We all know the definition of Sales Tax; the 7.25% paid above the purchase price on everything except food, medicines and most services. Question: Who collects those millions of sales tax dollars generated by businesses and providers? Answer: The State Board of Equalization (BOE). Question: What happens to those funds? Answer: Generally, the State of California retains all except 1%, returning that portion to the city of origin. So one asks, what’s the problem?

As per City Manager, Tom Ristau, two Illinois firms, specializing in sales and use tax consulting and services, approached City staff in early 2003 with proposals that could benefit Fillmore with increased revenues through the Sales Tax. In January and again in May 2003, agreements with both firms were brought before the City Council and adopted by unanimous vote. Inspired Development and MTS Consulting commenced to bring “newly formed” purchasing and/or sales companies to Fillmore, in exchange for a percentage of the City’s 1% share of sales tax revenues, generated by those businesses only. The agreed upon split of that 1% is, 85% to the consulting firms, who in turn share it with their contracted businesses, and 15% to the City.

Both Inspired Development and MTS Consulting, LLC retain offices downtown. Several “new” enterprises, which the City declined to identify, operate at the consulting firms’ local addresses. Nevertheless, the City concurs that MTS contracted Richmond VA based Owens and Minor, a Fortune 500 company founded in 1882 (the nation’s leading distributor of name brand medical and surgical supplies to hospitals and integrated health care systems), to open a sales office in Fillmore last fall, where according to Ristau, traveling sales personnel often come and go. Previously, four distribution centers located throughout California, handled sales and sales tax collection, with 1% of the generated sales tax rebated to the cities of origin, thus bringing substantial dollars to those cities. At least two of those cities, Livermore, estimating loses of $6.2 million in the next three years, and City of Industry, have filed a complaint with the BOE sparking investigation of sales tax revenue sharing practices in our town. In VC Star interviews, John Marchand, Livermore Councilman, said that the 165,000 sq. foot distribution center in his city has 120 employees. “It’s a big operation. Trucks are going in and out of there all day. It even has a heliport.” James Gross, an attorney for Owens and Minor and Fillmore officials claim that the creation of a central sales office was part of the company’s business plan to increase California sales and efficiency, not to steal sales taxes. (The previously reported estimated annual split is $800,000 to Fillmore and $4.5 million to MTS Consulting to split with Owens and Minor.) A spokesperson for the BOE confirmed the ongoing investigation, declaring that sales tax revenues through 2007 were distributed according to the formula favoring Fillmore; however, future allocations will be withheld until completion of the investigation. Mayor Conaway said the deal was vetted through attorneys, is a way to increase our tax base, and help our citizens. City officials have appealed. CONTINUED »

 
Fillmore Unified School District Board Meeting held September 2nd, 2008.
Fillmore Unified School District Board Meeting held September 2nd, 2008.
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Ruth Ricards, Director of Child Nutrition, and Joe Ricards, Agriculture Teacher at Fillmore High School, both were honored with
Ruth Ricards, Director of Child Nutrition, and Joe Ricards, Agriculture Teacher at Fillmore High School, both were honored with "Be The Change" awards for their hard work.

Fillmore Unified School District (FUSD) Board held the open session of its regular meeting September 2, 2008, at 6:00 p.m. in the Board Room at the District Office. The Board approved a new fee-based after school program to replace Stone Soup at Mountain Vista Elementary School, and honored Joe and Ruth Ricards.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Bush reported that the Stone Soup After School Program has ended. When the District notified Stone Soup administrators that the program would be discontinued at the end of September, the administrators refused to provide services for the rest of the month. At most schools, students who had been in the Stone Soup program can participate in the free Bridges program instead. At Mountain Vista, that was not possible because the Bridges program there is full. There are approximately 80 students in Bridges at Mountain Vista, and there are almost 30 students on the waiting list. After School Program Coordinator Carol Barringer researched fee-based after school programs, developed policies and procedures, and will implement the new program, Journeys, on Monday, September 8th.

The Journeys program is not free, but offers more flexible schedule arrangements than Bridges and is expected to be less expensive than private child care. Some families have already indicated interest. According to the Journeys Parent Handbook, registration is on a "first come, first serve" basis with enrollment limited by the number of staff available. Registration Forms will be available at Mountain Vista. Child care fees will be due in advance. Monthly rates will be $135 per month for the first child and $210 per family. Daily rates are $15 for the first child and $10 per additional child. Hourly rates are $5 per child per hour. Journeys will run only on school days from whenever school lets out until 6 p.m. The program will pay for itself if at least eight students participate. The staff to student ratio will be at least 1 to 12. Journeys include educational activities, recreational activities, social activities, and snacks. It is available only at Mountain Vista.

In keeping with this year's theme, "Be the Change," the Board honored Teacher Joe Ricards for his work with students and agriculture, and his wife Director of Child Nutrition Ruth Ricards for her work improving school food. Ms. Ricards is excited about developing plans for Piru's school cafeteria to "go green". If the program prospers, other schools in the district could follow. She was surprised and pleased to be honored. Mr. Ricards is the Advisor for Fillmore High School Future Farmers of America (FFA), and his FFA students won many awards at this year's Ventura County Fair, as usual. Mr. Ricards said that he appreciates the support of the Board, school, parents, booster club, and especially his wife. Regular Thursday evening showmanship practices contribute to the students' successes. Mr. Ricards mentioned that the FFA students are also accomplished in FFA student government, and have held regional and county offices. CONTINUED »