Jeff Sweeney
Jeff Sweeney
Superintendent Fillmore Unified School District

In January, the Governor proposed a $4.8 billion funding cut to education that would have a devastating impact on our school district. In Fillmore, the estimated loss in funding for 2008-09 is nearly $900,000. In addition to this loss due to the Governor’s proposal, an additional $700,000 in on-going costs must be budgeted into the 2008-09 school year budget. The reduction in funds from the state in addition to the on-going costs means that the Fillmore Unified School District must reduce our overall 2007-08 school year budget by $1.6 million for the new school year, 2008-09. In response to this information, the District began immediately containing costs (reduction in office supplies, elimination of conferences, etc.) and developing a potential budget reduction list in January. Our Board has been meeting since February to review potential cuts in preparation for approving a final budget for the 2008-09 school year in June. Be assured that we will do all we can to preserve vital programs and minimize employee layoffs as we develop next year’s budget.

Educational Budget Crisis
On March 4, our Board of Trustees adopted a resolution in opposition to the Governor's proposed cuts, which would be the largest in the history of education in California. Every parent, student and staff member can have a voice in the fight to protect public education in California. I encourage all of you to take a moment and write to our elected officials in Sacramento to voice your concern about the budget crisis and the effect it will have on our children's futures. The names of our elected officials are: Senate-George Runner, 5097 State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814, phone 916-651-4017, fax 916-445-4662; Senate-Tom McClintock, 3070 State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814, phone 916-651-4019, fax 916-324-7544; Assembly Audra Strickland, 4208 State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 94249, phone 916-319-2037, fax 916-319-2137.
I want our employees, parents and community to know that protecting students and staff from the harm the proposed Governor’s budget proposes is our top priority. However, such severe cuts to our funding will necessitate the loss of some services. We have already had to cut some summer school offerings. In addition to this item, the Board has been studying a variety of potential budget reductions. Some areas the Board is considering include: Eliminating in-town bus service; Reducing positions and utilizing their funding sources to provide more service; and Reducing the budget needed to replace aging technology equipment.
We want to keep moving in the positive direction that we have begun together these past two years. Board members, leaders, teachers, support staff, parents, and moreover the entire community have all worked especially hard to make Fillmore Unified a district that focuses on student achievement, providing a safe environment, and meeting the unique needs of all our students.

 


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

Location: Fourth Street at B Street, Fillmore, Ca
Date & Time: May 13th, 2008 / 07:30 PM

Unit Responsible: Fillmore Police Department

(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (W)itnesses City of residence Age

(V) Mario Ramos Fillmore 23
(S) Unknown Hispanic Male
(S) Unknown Hispanic Male

On May 13th, 2008, at approximately 07:30 PM, the victim was stopped in his vehicle in the area of Fourth Street and B Street, in Fillmore. The suspect vehicle, a white newer Chevrolet Avalanche, with paper plates, pulled in front of the victim’s vehicle blocking its exit. Two suspects exited their vehicle and confronted the victim, who was still seated in his vehicle. One of the suspects made reference to a local street gang and punched the victim on his face and head several times. The second suspect entered the passenger side of the vehicle and took the victim’s property. Both suspects fled the area in the Chevrolet Avalanche.

The victim reported the crime several hours later from his residence. The victim was treated and released by AMR for contusions and swelling to his face and forehead as a result of the crime.

Anyone with additional information about this crime is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (805) 494-TALK (Thousand Oaks / Moorpark), (805) 385-TALK (Camarillo / Oxnard / Port Hueneme) or Fillmore Police Department at (805) 524-2233.

 


 
Shirley Spitler (left) and former Mayor Roger Campbell, hand Grad Night Live founder Raeleen Chaney checks for nearly $6,000 in support of this life-saving event. Illness has prevented Mrs. Chaney from fund-raising this year. Time is short and several thousand dollars more are needed to pay for the Fillmore High School senior grad night event.
Shirley Spitler (left) and former Mayor Roger Campbell, hand Grad Night Live founder Raeleen Chaney checks for nearly $6,000 in support of this life-saving event. Illness has prevented Mrs. Chaney from fund-raising this year. Time is short and several thousand dollars more are needed to pay for the Fillmore High School senior grad night event.
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First to speak at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Fillmore City Council was Clay Westling. Mr. Westling reminded the Council that they had 15 days to respond to the petition presented to city hall which seeks to halt the Reider housing plan in north Fillmore. More than 800 signatures were collected in a short time to validate the petition.
Westling also criticized the Council for not using PERC, a construction firm, in the competition for the city’s new water treatment plant. He noted that the City of Santa Paula recently chose PERC to construct its treatment plant, adding that PERC “had the lowest capital cost.”
Gayle Washburn also joined in the criticism of the Council for not choosing PERC for the construction of the city’s treatment plant. She told the Council that there was a “substantial difference” in construction cost, and that Fillmore would have saved $16 million with PERC, instead of the company the Council chose. She stated “no one [from the Council] called me” for information.
Council approved funding for the construction of the city’s new swimming complex. Completion is expected by January, 2009.
Former Councilman and Mayor, Roger Campbell, spoke next. He, in an aside, reminded Ms. Washburn that PERC “chose not to bid on the Fillmore plant”, that they had not participated in the bidding, and were, therefore, irrelevant to the issue of cost. This fact has been explained many times to those who repeatedly raise this issue.
Campbell reminded the Council that the highly successful Grad Night Live program was in danger of failing this year for lack of funding. Founder of Grad Night Live, Raelene Chaney, joined in a plea for assistance. This program has saved the lives of countless high school grads since its inception more than 17 years ago. The program provides a free cruise with entertainment, overnight, to help avoid dangerous, often alcohol based activities by exuberant new grads.
The City’s independent audit report was approved by Council for the fiscal year 2006-007.
Agenda item 8-J, a request for approval of the allocation for this year’s work by Boyle Engineering on the water treatment plant was questioned by Councilwoman Patti Walker. Ms. Walker stated that she had trouble with this request, stating “I have trouble trying to explain why I get a $3 million dollar grant and I have to turn it over to you” [Boyle Engineering]? It’s difficult to understand this objection, because the grant money is earmarked for this purpose, and allocating yearly, instead of paying for all work in a lump sum, saves the city money, and can be spent only for this purpose. The Boyle water treatment plant is under budget and on time.
The owner of Fillmore’s Taco Bell contributed $3,500 to the fund, M.T.S. Consulting contributed $2.500, and Campbell presented a check for $250. All Fillmore residents are urged to help this effort in the short time left before graduation.
Director of Public Works, Bert Rapp, told the Council that the El Dorado Mobil Home Park will not get the traffic light they have hoped for on Highway 126. CalTrans has rejected the project because traffic in and out of El Dorado was deemed insufficient to meet its standards. A very strong effort, for many years, has been made, unsuccessfully, to argue for the light. Griffin Industries, developer of Heritage Valley Parks, adjacent to El Dorado, will construct a rear roadway connecting with Mountain View, when the next phase of housing is complete.
Several Resolutions concerning lighting and landscape for District No. 2 were approved. Please refer to the City of Fillmore website link on fillmoregazette.com for detailed information.
Acting Fire Chief, Pat Askren, reminded landowners that weed abatement is absolutely necessary, and that if owners failed to take action to eliminate these fire hazards the city must do it at considerable expense to owners.
Several approvals were granted for contract work on the Waste Water Treatment Plant and requests for changes in other Plant and levee
In executive session, negotiations concerning property owned by Herb Haase in north Fillmore, off B Street were undertaken. The price and terms of payment were at issue, for a narrow strip of land needed for the completion of the B Street extension into north Fillmore.

 


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

On April 26, 2008, the Fillmore Police Department and deputies from the Gang Unit responded to a report of a fight in the front parking lot of “Llamas Market”. Investigation revealed that it was not a fight but a robbery of two customers that had just left the market. The suspects battered the victims and stole approximately forty-five dollars worth of merchandise from the victims. The suspects fled the area prior to the deputies’ arrival.
The two involved suspects were identified and subsequently arrested shortly thereafter. The two suspects, Ruben Ramirez 20 and Albert Rodriguez 22 both of Fillmore, were charged with robbery and commission of a crime for the benefit of a street gang. The two suspects were booked at the Pre-Trial Detention Facility without incident. The incident is being investigated as a gang-related crime. Courtesy of Fillmore Police Department Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

 


 
Tragedy hit the community of Fillmore Thursday when resident Danielle Barrett, 16, lost her life in a car accident on Grand Avenue, outside city limits. 
Barrett was driving a 2001 Jeep Cherokee just before 1:00 p.m. at a high rate of speed when she lost control of her car, ran onto the dirt shoulder, overturning several times before coming to a stop in an orange grove. Barrett, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the car and suffered head trauma and internal injuries. She was taken by helicopter to Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura, where she died that evening.
Three passengers were also injured; Michael Castaneda, 18, and Torrey Phillips, 16, both of Fillmore, were taken by ambulance to VC Medical Center. Passenger Barry Meyer, 18, of Fillmore, was taken by ambulance to Santa Paula Hospital. All three were treated for minor scrapes and released.
Tragedy hit the community of Fillmore Thursday when resident Danielle Barrett, 16, lost her life in a car accident on Grand Avenue, outside city limits. Barrett was driving a 2001 Jeep Cherokee just before 1:00 p.m. at a high rate of speed when she lost control of her car, ran onto the dirt shoulder, overturning several times before coming to a stop in an orange grove. Barrett, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the car and suffered head trauma and internal injuries. She was taken by helicopter to Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura, where she died that evening. Three passengers were also injured; Michael Castaneda, 18, and Torrey Phillips, 16, both of Fillmore, were taken by ambulance to VC Medical Center. Passenger Barry Meyer, 18, of Fillmore, was taken by ambulance to Santa Paula Hospital. All three were treated for minor scrapes and released.
Photo by Chris Egedi
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Army Private First Class George T. Poppic III
Army Private First Class George T. Poppic III

Army Private First Class George T. Poppic III, 23 years old, is a 2002 Villanova Preparatory School Graduate. Located in Ojai, Villanova Preparatory School is a Catholic, co-educational, day and boarding school where cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity are welcomed and embraced. Founded in 1924, Villanova is the only Augustinian co-ed boarding school in the United States. PFC George Poppic III also attended Mt. Carmel School in Santa Barbara for elementary and middle school. After high school, he went to Wyotech in Sacramento; he received his diploma for Automotive Technician. He currently has 1969 Bronco under construction. He is a Fillmore resident and is currently stationed at Fort Hood, Texas with the 3rd Brigade 1st Infantry 6-4 Cavalry.

Army Private First Class George T. Poppic III is the son of Debra (Kevin) Edwards of Fillmore and George Poppic Jr. of Sacramento. Grandson of the late Maternal Grandparents Nick and Gladys Niederkorn of Glendora, California and the late Paternal Grandparents George and Lois Poppic of Santa Barbara. Prior to enlisting in the Army PFC George Poppic III was employed at William L. Morris as a mechanic and worked in the oil fields for Excalibur.

PFC George Poppic III enlisted with the Army on January 4, 2007 and his job specialty is as a “Cavalry Scout”. He tells me, “A cavalry scout are usually referred to as the "eyes and ears of the battle field" meaning we are out front watching and reporting on the enemy and their movements. We are sent out in smaller groups than the normal infantry and are not meant to engage the enemy as they are, but to report to the higher echelon and they will make decisions on what to do (have us engage, call for fire, bypass, call for reinforcements).”

PFC George Poppic III will be deploying soon to Afghanistan with the expected departure date of some time in June. He has been awarded the Army Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and two Army Accommodation Medals.

In addition to anything automotive, his interests, PFC George Poppic III tells me; have to do mainly around any sort of off road racing. He said he mostly likes desert racing.

All the citizens of this Valley wish PFC George T. Poppic III safe travel, deployment and we look forward to his return home.

 
This is Conceptual Plan number 7, provided by the city. One major change has been made to this rendering, and that is the addition of an exit area on the west side of the parking lot. It is hoped that completion of this swimming complex will occur in December of 2008. The Gazette incorrectly stated completion for December, 2009, in last week’s edition.
This is Conceptual Plan number 7, provided by the city. One major change has been made to this rendering, and that is the addition of an exit area on the west side of the parking lot. It is hoped that completion of this swimming complex will occur in December of 2008. The Gazette incorrectly stated completion for December, 2009, in last week’s edition.
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In the fall of 2005, the citizens of Fillmore passed by a two-thirds majority, Measure B5, a special $15 per year tax per residential parcel or dwelling unit, to generate funds for the maintenance and operation of a new year-round community pool. Two and a half years later, and the heat of summer upon us, the pool is still a daydream to the residents of Fillmore.
When it is built, the new, year-round, competition sized, heated pool will be located on the former site of the old, debris-laden pool that served Fillmore High School and the community for decades. The Ventura County Environmental Health Department closed that pool due to numerous health and safety violations after the summer of 2000. Repairs and refurbishment to bring the pool to code and reopen would have exceeded half the cost of replacement, both options financial impossibilities for the Fillmore Unified School District. The long-standing critical need for recreational facilities in Fillmore, and the passage of Measure B5, prompted the City to purchase the site from the District for full market value as required by law.
Besides the inoperable pool, the property included four community-used tennis courts. Original plans called for construction (financed through the Redevelopment Agency with redevelopment funds) of the new pool, locker rooms and bathrooms and refurbishment of the four existing courts. However, to accommodate parking facilities, new plans account for only two, newly constructed tennis courts. As months went by, the tentative completion date of spring 2007 was extended. The City sites serious challenges and other issues that caused unforeseen delays, including property appraisals, the lack of drawings for existing school plumbing, construction plan changes, sewer plant and storm drain issues, prioritizing the new skateboard park on C Street, and a staffing shortage.
The big question is, will the pool and its accompaniments ever become a reality and when? Councilmember Scott Lee answers with a definite “yes”! The current plan includes; May 5, 2008 contracting bids opened; July, start construction; December 31, tentative completion date; January 2009 through March, limited use; April, opened to the public. Construction issues concerning high school use requirements are in the process of being resolved. The City, owner and operator of the complex anticipates the project (cost estimate: $6,385,000), to be completed on time and under budget. The City Recreation Department and the School District will enjoy joint use the facility.
What has become of the funds collected by the City from the citizens of Fillmore over the past two years? Those funds, deposited in a separate trust account, cannot and will not become part of the City’s general fund, as B5 specifically and legally restricts the use of those funds only for maintenance and operation of a community swimming pool. Additional funds will be collected from the School District and reasonable pool entrance fees for those using the pool.
The pool and tennis courts at the high school location are not the only project underway in this effort to improve recreational facilities in Fillmore. C Street, next to the old sewer plant is the planned site for a new park. The first phase includes a large playfield, a skateboard park, two basketball courts and two tennis courts, at a cost of $4,500,000. The project is out for bids with tentative completion planned for December 2008. Phase two plans (estimated cost $4,830.000) include two additional basketball courts, two additional tennis courts and two baseball fields. In the meantime, the City intends to hydro seed those areas, making them suitable for soccer play.
Whether we like it or not, Fillmore is growing, and it is past time for our recreational facilities to modernize and grow too, to accommodate our residents of all ages. We applaud the City for its efforts on these projects that are definitely a step in the right direction. However, for now, we must continue to daydream, until our promised courts and fields are buzzing with recreational activity, and we see our children splashing happily in the community swimming pool.

 

We live in a world that loves observances. Holidays are established to recognize presidents, religious leaders, discoverers, laborers and even ground hogs and fools. We observe Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and Veterans Day. There are celebrations for New Years Day, Valentines Day and Easter.
There is one observance that deserves the place of honor above all others on that the list - a day that is set aside to honor the person who is responsible for all the good that exists on the planet. The person that God himself has chosen to be His co-creator of life. That person is your mother.
One might ask, “What about Jesus or Mohammad?” The simple answer is that even they would not have been born into this world without a mother.
When I contemplate, “What is God’s greatest gift to mankind?” I can only conclude that no gift could be greater than the gift of our mothers. Anything that we have, anything that we achieve, anything that we hold dear is the direct result of a loving and unselfish mother. A mother who willingly goes through months of discomfort in pregnancy, hours of almost unbearable pain in labor and childbirth, and years of never getting a good night’s sleep, to give us our chance on earth. A mother who had a choice as to whether or not we would be allowed to exist and opted to bring us into the world in spite of the options open to her. A mother whose sacrifices for us were so great as to defy comprehension. A mother whose chose our life over her own.
I recently had the opportunity to meet with a young couple and their beautiful little three-month old daughter. As the new mother looked into the eyes of that recent little arrival from heaven, and the little angel looked back into her mother’s eyes, I witnessed a mutual, unconditional and pure love that is without equal. There is a scripture in the Book of John where Jesus instructs: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” The love shared between that mother and her child is the nearest thing to Christ-like love one will ever witness or experience.
As I continued to watch the mother and child it became readily apparent, even though the infant had no knowledge of where she was or what was occurring around her, that there was an undeniable bond of love between her and her mother that allowed her to identify the sight, sound and very presence of her mother above all others in the room.
It is somewhat ironic that the most beautiful, the most loving, and the most mutually satisfying times of our lives spent with our mothers have been withheld from our memories. They occurred during the first few years of our life and, therefore, only our mothers have the ability to recall them. Those memories cannot be explained to others because there are no words that can adequately describe the beautiful and sacred experience that they shared.
A great many dying individuals cry out for their mothers as their time on earth comes to an end, even though their mothers may have preceded them in death decades earlier. One cannot help but think that perhaps those lost memories are restored and the dying individuals are reaching out to the one person they know, with a sure knowledge, will provide them with peace, comfort and unconditional love.
If a mother’s love could be duplicated and instilled to every person on earth there would be no wars, no crime, no divorce, no dissention and no greed in the world. But fortunately, as long as there are mothers, there is also a chance that this world might just be able to reach a point where it can actually be designated as civilization. Each time a mother brings a new life into the world it is a manifestation from God that He has concluded that there is still justification to allow the world continue.
Mothers should certainly be honored more than one day a year. They should be revered and cherished and placed high on the highest pedestal each and every day of their lives. One can never come close to repaying his mother the debts he owes her, however, that doesn’t mean he should ever stop trying.

 
Mama Sue Conroy and Ken Talent present Mrs. Chaney a plaque for her hard work and dedication for Grad Nite Live during the spaghetti dinner held Friday night. The dinner was successful and made close to $1300. Talent also presented a check from Search and Rescue in the amount of $500 to Grad Nite Live.
Mama Sue Conroy and Ken Talent present Mrs. Chaney a plaque for her hard work and dedication for Grad Nite Live during the spaghetti dinner held Friday night. The dinner was successful and made close to $1300. Talent also presented a check from Search and Rescue in the amount of $500 to Grad Nite Live.
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The Fillmore High School bleachers can be seen in the distant background. The football field is being prepared to receive water lines from our new water treatment plant. Every effort is being made to complete the project before graduation. The outcome, however, is uncertain.
The Fillmore High School bleachers can be seen in the distant background. The football field is being prepared to receive water lines from our new water treatment plant. Every effort is being made to complete the project before graduation. The outcome, however, is uncertain.
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The Fillmore Unified School District has been very busy overseeing the execution of long awaited upgrades and renovations to Fillmore’s schools, especially at the Fillmore High School campus. The school, main recipient of the District’s recent efforts, was established in 1909. The oldest building on the present campus was erected in 1938, and today, educator to 1000 students, some bussed from as far away as Newhall Ranch.
Those familiar with Fillmore High School could not deny the long deteriorated condition of the buildings and grounds. The high school renovation that began six years ago is nearing completion. Commencing in July 2001 with the rehabilitation and renovation of the Science Building, the modernized structure reopened for student use in August 2002.
More recently, work was completed on a new parking lot and outdoor basketball courts, new concrete in the quad, and replacement of asphalt in the horseshoe. Major plumbing upgrades included the renovation of five previously un-useable student restrooms. Numerous new doors in both the Arts and Administration Buildings have been installed and the cafeteria and gym sport a new, fresh look. Importantly, disability access has been upgraded throughout the campus.
The final phase is noticeably in progress. Improvements at FHS include regrading and resurfacing the football field with artificial turf, regrading and installation of an all-weather track, new lights and fine, no-climb fencing. A new state of the art, remote access scoreboard, financed by the Fillmore Lion’s Club through donations in memory of Hank Carrillo, will be installed sometime in July. Painting of the exteriors of the Library, two classroom buildings and the Administration Building is scheduled for this summer. More obvious however, is the installation of eight-foot fencing along the perimeter of the campus, complying with a 2002 study by the Ventura County Grand Jury, and the recommendation that all high schools in Ventura County install such perimeter fencing in an effort to not keep students in, but to keep perpetrators of problems out. Fortunately, little violence occurs between students. School officials report that every major event on campus has involved non-students against students. However, in 2007 alone, the school suffered costs of $30,000 due to vandalism and $20,000 from burglary offences. Most high schools in the County installed this type of fencing years ago.
Other area public schools have received upgrades as well. In the spring of 2003, work began after the District won State funds to construct twenty-two new classrooms at termite damaged Fillmore Junior High School. The classrooms were operational in the summer of 2005. Recent ongoing projects include new frontage fencing for the Junior High, completion of the new multi-purpose room and cafeteria at Mount Vista Elementary School, and exterior painting and asphalt work at San Cayetano Elementary School.
It takes an enormous amount of money to finance projects of this magnitude. Since 2001, the cost has been $32,000,000 and an additional $7,000,000 planned for the high school, San Cayetano and Piru Elementary Schools. Funds have and will come from a variety of sources including State bonds and grants, an obligation bond, mostly used for Mount Vista, and the sale of high school property (site of the old, debris filled pool and tennis courts), to the City for the proposed community swimming pool and refurbished tennis courts. Upon completion of the heated, competition-regulation pool, an agreement between the City and the FUSD will allow Fillmore High School students to use the City owned facility for physical education and competition. Along with funds collected from the community through a yearly maintenance tax (measure B5), FHS will participate in the maintenance costs.
Dr. Michael Bush, Ed.D., FUSD Assistant Superintendent, Business, is currently managing this enormous undertaking. He stated that budgetary problems in funding education are directly related to low tax levels from years of Proposition 13 (low property taxes), and consequential dependence on other tax revenues, and that the shortfall contributes greatly to California’s ranking of below forty-five, in the country. And since the final phase of renovations is funded through facility funds restricted to capital improvements, the current State budget challenges will not derail the process. Dr. Bush also believes in not allowing funding issues to tear at the fabric of the community. His job, he stated, is to fight hard for available monies and opportunities, and to make sure that Fillmore schools receive their fair share, necessary to realize state of the art learning institutions. He, along with many others, is dedicated to the goals of a finer education and a brighter future for the youths of Fillmore, and restoration of the respect and pride for their schools, displayed by students of previous generations. So much has been accomplished through education in Fillmore’s schools, despite their decaying condition. Could you imagine the achievements in surroundings of which one can be proud?