Future Farmer of America’s Aaron Largen’s steer won Grand Champion Market Steer.
Future Farmer of America’s Aaron Largen’s steer won Grand Champion Market Steer.
Photo by Bob Crum
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Auction Volunteer Sol Chooljian.
Auction Volunteer Sol Chooljian.
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It's official. Fillmore 4-H and FFA triumph! After months of work... feeding, walking and bathing their animals, cleaning pens, attending animal science classes and record keeping to log expenses... eight exuberant Fillmore 4-H and FFA youngsters were rewarded with championship ribbons. In a word, sweet.
In no particular order, Sespe 4-H Alani Barajas' goat won 4-H Reserve Champion and Bred and Fed Championship. In the market steer category, Fillmore FFA (Future Farmers of America) Aaron Largen's steer won Grand Champion Market Steer and FFA Daniel Landeros' steer won FFA Reserve Champion. In the replacement heifer category, Sespe 4-H Macie Wokal's replacement heifer won Reserve Grand Champion, Fillmore FFA Amber Davis' heifer won FFA Reserve Champion, and Sespe 4-H Brittany Chumley's heifer won the Bred & Fed Championship. In the market swine category, Sespe 4-H Chase Bowen's pig won Grand Champion and Fillmore FFA Keyanna Lucio's pig won FFA Champion.
The goal of all the time and effort spent raising a quality animal was to obtain the highest bid possible at the Junior Livestock Auction held in the Clark Pavilion at the Ventura County Fair August 8.
First up: market pen turkey. When the hootin' and hollerin' was over, and auctioneer Jon Dolieslager yelled 'sold!', the Grand Champion turkey fetched $1,000. Not to be outdone, a trio of Grand Champion Meat Pen chickens sold for... ahem... $2,100; $700 per bird. Would the rest of the days bidding be as generous?
According to Junior Livestock Superintendent Jennifer McGuire, last year's total auction sales were just a little over $700,000. “This year,” she added, “we expect to top $800,000 in total auction sales.
Alani Barajas' 4-H Reserve Champion/Bred & Fed Champion Goat weighed 103 pounds and the winning bid was $4.00 per pound.
Last year, the goat Alani was raising died unexpectedly just three weeks before the Fair. This year her goat entry rewarded her with two ribbons. The Bred and Fed class meaning an animal bred in Ventura County. Her goat is from her own brood stock... her herd consisting of 12 goats.
Asked about raising goats, Alani... in her usual low-key manner... casually said, “It's usually the same thing every year. It gets difficult sometimes... they get stubborn and don't like to be shaved... but this year was not any harder than it usually is. Next year? “Another goat,” Alani said. Why not replacement heifer? Alani prefers raising smaller, gentler animals.
Next year is her last entering a goat in the Fair. All of her accumulated auction proceeds are in a college fund. Not sure of her major yet but she enjoys chemistry, biology, math.... the sciences. If Alani has her way... UCLA is in her future.
Next in the auction ring from Fillmore... Aaron Largen whose 1,366 pound Grand Champion steer fetched $10.00 a pound.
Aaron's face lit up when asked how he felt in the auction ring. “I was excited,” Aaron said, “because I wasn't expecting that much money. I was expecting only $5 or maybe $6/pound.”
At $10/pound, the winning bidder paid $13,660 for Aaron's steer. Whoa. That's not all profit. There are hefty expenses raising a 1,366 pound animal. Lots and lots of Showstrain grains and beet pulp just to mention a couple. The beet pulp was added to his steer's diet when it began to gain too much weight.
As for the 'net' proceeds, “I'm going to buy my first truck,” Aaron said with a huge grin.
The four previous years, Aaron raised pigs for show and auction. This was his first steer, obtained from the College of the Sequoias in Visalia. “I enjoyed raising the steer,” said Aaron, “because I got to spend more time with him. I go to the farm (FFA school farm) everyday for four hours and sometimes go twice a day. I washed him every day, walked him, cleaned the pen, and all that. But taking care of a steer is a lot more rewarding.” Yes, Aaron will be raising another steer for next year's auction.
Danial Landeros is no stranger to the auction ring or championship row. Two years ago his steer won Grand Champion and last year Reserve Grand Champion. This year, his championship steer brought him, like Largen, $10 per pound.
“I was really surprised,” exclaimed Landeros. With his buddy Aaron's Grand Champion getting $10/pound, Daniel was expecting to get only about $7, maybe $8. “Getting $10/pound is really good,” said Daniel, considering that when he went back in to watch the following bidding on steers averaged only about $3/pound.
To explain the $10/pound, Daniel said, “He's just a better looking cow.” However, there's more to the story than his cow being a better looking hunk. Daniel knew in advance that a buyer for his steer was in the audience. However, to the surprise of everyone, another bidder also wanted Daniel's steer. Engaged in an intense bidding battle, the buyer Daniel knew had to bid up to $10 to win. Such is life at the Junior Livestock auction.
With a three-year winning streak under his belt, Daniel all but officially announced his junior livestock retirement to turn his attention to full time studies at the College of the Canyons where he intends to obtain an AA degree and certification in welding. Thereafter attend Santa Barbara Community College to master underwater welding. Daniel happily attributes his interest in underwater welding to Joe Ricards, Fillmore's FFA instructor and dive master.
In the replacement heifer category, Fillmore youngsters ruled with three championships.
The winning bid for Macie Wokal's Reserve Grand Champion heifer was $2,100.
This was Macie's second replacement heifer and said that it was the nicest. Nevertheless, as Macie explained, “it took a lot of effort and responsibility, and time... 2-3 hours a day... every day.” Obviously all this effort, and responsibility is enough to dissuade Macie from undertaking the task again next year. Wrong. She's planning on doing it all over again. Which leaves one to conclude that “gratification” of accomplishment trumps all the work and time it takes to raise a farm animal. Yes... these youngsters wear pride very well.
It took $2,000 to win Amber Davis' 1,035 pound replacement heifer.
Amber obtained her prize-winning heifer while attending College of the Sequoias, Visalia, CA, and brought it back to Fillmore. Explained Amber, “I took her to several shows around the county and did really, really well with her winning a few (belt) buckles and some money.”
Regarding her experience raising the heifer, Amber said “she's a sweetheart... such an angel. And she's pretty spoiled. She had fans, and misters (for cooling), rinsed her twice a day, took her out and worked her (walks).”
Typically, Amber catered to her heifer 2-3 hours a day... 7 days a week. “Once in a while I'd have my parents feed her but those times were few and far between,”said Amber. “Not that they minded but I didn't want to pass off my responsibility.” Besides, added Amber, “I wanted it done my way.” So, your particular about what and how much she got fed , I asked? “Well, I didn't want anybody to have the headache of mixing her feed because I had certain feeds I was mixing,” said Amber. Asked how much her heifer eats a day Amber's quick reply: “a bunch!” How much is a bunch? Sixteen pounds of grain, some beet pulp and hay declared Amber. Ha! So much for just plopping down a bale of hay and going home.
While a small segment of society looks upon raising animals for table fare with disdain, Amber is a great example of how her experiences are prompting her to pursue the respectable, honorable profession of agriculture teacher. A career she eagerly looks forward to. And considering her robust personality, dedication and intellect there's no doubt that Amber will become an outstanding ag teacher.
For next year? “I'm thinking about raising a steer.” If she does... I think the only thing
Amber hasn't yet raised and entered for auction is market chickens.
Brittany Chumley's Bred & Fed Champion replacement heifer weighed in at 1,107 pounds and fetched $1,900 at the auction.
As Brittany explains, “I got her last November so it's been a long project. It's been a lot of fun walking her. Feeding her everyday was a lot of money but still, it's a very great experience and I recommend it for anybody.” Asked about a typical day attending to her heifer, Brittany replied, “I'm gone about 6 in the morning and return home about 9:30 AM.” Besides the usual 16 pounds of grain every day, Brittany adds some Bermuda hay.
Hmmm... I wonder if that's like adding dessert to the main course?
Excited about her first Bred & Fed win this year... Brittany is already planning on raising another replacement heifer next year. In the meantime, she is suffering a missing toenail.
What happened? “My heifer stepped on my foot,” Brittany said with a giggle. Perhaps silly questions are best not asked.
Brittany was lucky loosing only a toenail. Susana Lamb, Camarillo, was not so lucky. Her 1,322 pound steer stepped on her foot breaking her leg (tibia & other bones) requiring surgery and a metal plate. Her steer's name? Bone Crusher. Destiny in a name?
The winning bid for Chase Bowen's 268 pound Grand Champion Market Swine was $16 per pound.
At the young age of 11, Chase is already an accomplished pig farmer... being this was his fifth pig entered at the County Fair. As for the experience, Chase stated that it was an easy and fun pig to raise. Did the pig get Wheaties... the breakfast of Champions for breakfast? “Actually no he didn't,” replied Chase with a grin, “he got special feed called Sunglo. Considering that his pig won Grand Champion... Sunglo must be great stuff.
And the auction money... I asked? “Half goes into my college fund,” Chase said, “the rest is to buy another pig (next year).” Why raise another pig? “It's fun,” he said. I left Chase as he basked in the accomplishment of having raised a Grand Champion.
Samara Acosta received $12/pound for her 136 pound Reserve Grand Champion Market pig. Winning Reserve Grand Champion with her first pig entered at the County Fair is a great accomplishment. Though she didn't say... I suspect that she fed her pig Wheaties for sure. What did Samara do special that produced her award winning pig? “I worked hard,” she said. Adding... “I cleaned him, I fed him, I bathed him, I walked him around... everything.”
OK... so what did Samara feed her pig? Mooman's #237. And the plans for the money? “Some I'm going to save and the rest to buy school clothes,” explained Samara.
From her experience, Samara said, “raising the pig was a lot of work... a lot of responsibility... like having a kid.” Why undertake raising a pig. “I thought it'd be a good experience for me,” said Samara. Did you know what you'd be getting into when you decided to raise a pig?, I asked. “No,” was her immediate reply. Perhaps sometimes not knowing is better.
Last in the swine category, Keyanna Lucio's 111 pound pig was bought for $8.00 a pound.
Raising a champion pig can be trying at times. Besides being pigheaded... oops... ummm... stubborn... Keyanna said that “she loved to dig holes and it's really hard to fill them back up. And some days she'd dig holes faster than I could fill them back in” added an exasperated Keyanna. When asked why pigs like to dig she promptly said, “looking for bugs.” Then quickly adding... “just kidding!” I wonder why I still ask “why” questions. Besides her pig's obsession to dig... the silly swine loved to blow bubbles in her bath water. Furthermore, Keyanna had a tempermental pig on her hands. But not when it came to chow time. Miss piggy's diet? A bunch of Moorman's Showtec #237 feed. And if needed for weight control... toss in some beet pulp. Yummy.
Will Keyanna do it again next year? “Yes,” she said, “because it's fun... and all worth it.
The 4-H and FFA provide the youngsters numerous benefits and one that comes through clearly from talking with them at the Fair is their acquired 'work ethic'. An invaluable trait that will undoubtedly serve them well as they venture forth into the workplace. Kudos to all the parents who support their children's endeavors with immeasurable compassion and also have to rise with the sun... everyday... to get their children to the 'pens' so they can execute their daily chores. To all the 4-H leaders... congratulations for an exceptional job teaching and guiding. Accolades to Joe Ricards, Fillmore FFA teacher extraordinaire and to Junior Livestock Superintendent Jennifer McGuire for an outstanding performance.
To all the 4-H and FFA young persons who raised a farm animal for show and auction, a hearty congratulations from the Fillmore Gazette staff. To those who were honored with championship ribbons, a special round of applause for a superlative performance.


Fillmore resident and former Mayor Gary Creagle protested loudly concerning the several unfunded state mandates at Thursday’s special city council meeting. If all the new state requirements, including the water treatment plant, possible chloride control plant, new flood control demand threats, and new surface water treatment requirements are all implemented, the City of Fillmore could find itself wiped-out financially.
Fillmore resident and former Mayor Gary Creagle protested loudly concerning the several unfunded state mandates at Thursday’s special city council meeting. If all the new state requirements, including the water treatment plant, possible chloride control plant, new flood control demand threats, and new surface water treatment requirements are all implemented, the City of Fillmore could find itself wiped-out financially.

Fillmore City Council held a special meeting on August 7th to review the North Fillmore Initiative Impact Report. The Council also conducted some other business.
The Council had ordered an Impact Report when it voted to put the initiative on the November 4, 2008 ballot. The Council requested the report to provide accurate information to the public about the consequences of voting yes on the initiative. The full analysis will not be ready until August 26, 2008, but Andrew Belknap, Regional Vice President of Management Partners, Inc., provided a summary presentation for discussion purposes. Belknap's summary letter to City Manager Tom Ristau was included as part of the Council meeting packet.
The analysis indicates the initiative is inconsistent with the city's plans for development and infrastructure. If the initiative passes, then the city's plans can be changed, but not without some negative consequences for the city as a whole and the North Fillmore area.
The land in question is approximately ten percent of Fillmore's acreage, and is mostly vacant. The initiative calls for a maximum of 350 units on that land instead of a maximum of 700 or 894. It would also reduce the potential density of development: instead of five to twenty units per acre, development would be limited to a range of one to five units per acre. The most significant change would be a drop in the number of affordable housing units in the area: from 105 to 53. State authorities have approved Fillmore's development plans with provision for 105 affordable housing units. If the initiative passes, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) will almost certainly require the building of 52 affordable housing units in other parts of town to compensate for the difference. Belknap wrote, "[I]t is going to be difficult for the City to comply with the state's requirements for affordable housing if this initiative is approved, which could put the City at risk legally and financially."
There would be less of a traffic increase with 350 new units instead of 700 new units, but the smaller increase in traffic would fail to meet the threshold required for road improvements to be affordable. Utility fees, water fees, sewer fees, and storm drain costs would be higher because the base costs would be divided among fewer residents.
Restricting development to 350 units might prevent development by making development economically unfeasible for developers. Belknap wrote, "Infrastructure costs may make development at levels allowed by the Initiative prohibitively expensive." If the initiative passes, it is uncertain whether anything would be built on the land in question. If less than 320 units are built, the imbalance between City-provided services and taxes will cause the City to lose money. The City could lose $106,000 to $146,000 per year. If the land were developed at previously planned levels, the City could see major increases in tax revenues: possibly one to two million dollars annually.
The initiative would not significantly impact Fillmore's school system.
Some proponents of the initiative were present to argue that Fillmore citizens approve of the initiative, and that the benefits outweigh the costs. Two of them stated that people do not want dense development, particularly in that area. Smith suggested that the Impact Report is based on uncertainties and might be unreliable. The third speaker talked about over-crowded units, people living in garages, and the lack of street packing. He implied that the state has overestimated the number of affordable housing units needed in Fillmore, and that development planners should consider person-density instead of unit-density. He spoke passionately about fighting the state on affordable housing. He also suggested that the Impact Report might not be trustworthy.
The Council adopted an official weapons policy. The policy will not be part of the employee handbook, but will be circulated among city employees for signatures.
The Council voted to remain neutral on the proposed conversion of the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility into a Medical and Mental Health Facility for 1,500 adult male prisoners. Assemblywoman Audra Strickland had written a letter of opposition to the proposed conversion and sent a copy to the Council members encouraging them to follow suit. Scott Lee seems to be in favor of the proposed conversion, and Patti Walker is opposed. She voted against the Council remaining neutral as a whole. City Attorney Ted Schneider is looking into whether is would be legal and ethical for individual Council members to write letters indicating their personal positions as Council members.
The Council voted to approve the release of construction bonds on the Griffin Housing Tracts. The bonds were no longer needed to ensure completion of the work.
Public Works Director Bert Rapp reported that only one bid had been received on the Effluent Disposal and Re-use for Fillmore Middle School and Railroad Right of Way Project. He requested that the Council reject the bid, because it is over-budget by almost two million dollars. After discussion, the Council agreed to reject that bid and make modifications in the re-advertisement for bids. The modifications and re-advertisement will cost $23,000.
The Council authorized the City Manager to enter into a Remedial Grading agreement to facilitate construction on the Water Recycling Plant.
At a previous City Council meeting, Marcos Hernandez had alleged that a firefighter had harassed and intimidated people. At the August 7th meeting, the Council reported that Sergeant Wareham, of the Fillmore branch of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, had overseen an investigation into the allegations. Of the people supposedly harassed, only one came forward. The firefighter apologized to that person for the inference of intimidation and that person accepted his apology. Wareham exhausted all available leads, and was unable to find any other person who claimed to have been harassed or intimidated.
Marcos Hernandez requested that the Council pursue his allegations further. The Council appropriately refused to comment on any personnel issues, but eventually agreed to place the matter on the executive agenda. Even after an executive session on the matter, Council members would be legally prohibited from commenting.
City Staff were praised for convincing the Ventura Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to approve the annexation of 41 acres for the development of a business park. Patti Walker, Laurie Hernandez, and Cecilia Cuevas were praised for their persuasiveness. Roy Payne, Bill Bartels, and Supervisor Kathy Long were also praised for their help with the annexation, as was City Attorney Ted Schneider. The final public hearing for protest proceedings is scheduled for August 19, 2008. If there continues to be no public opposition, LAFCO will finalize the annexation after that hearing.
Mayor Steve Conaway and Mayor Pro-Tem Cecilia Cuevas will report on their lobbying trip to Washington D.C. at the August 26th City Council Meeting.
Upcoming special events mentioned: Downtown Merchants Meeting 8/14/08, 5:30 p.m. at City Hall; Relay for Life 9/13/08 and 9/14/08 at FHS Baseball Field; International Day of Peace 9/21/08; Citywide Clean Up Day 9/27/08, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at City Hall Lot; and Household Hazardous Waste Day 10/4/08, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m at Public Works Lot by appointment only.



Crime is everywhere, even in Fillmore! What are its causes and effects on our city and what measures are taken to combat criminal trends and behaviors? According to Fillmore’s new Chief of Police, Captain Tim Hagel, and statistics gathered by the Department of Justice, crime varies from year to year, community to community and from neighborhood to neighborhood. Even the frequency of specific criminal activities changes from season to season and is weather related. It is a fact that social issues, suicide and domestic violence peak during the winter holidays while home and vehicle burglaries rise in the summer. Crucial components to combating crime and preventing criminal activities even before they happen include; early recognition of current trends in the local area, superior officer training, teamwork, accessibility, dialogue and a solid relationship with the community.

Crime in Fillmore, as in most communities across our nation includes; gang and tagging (the gateway to gang membership) activities, drug use, production and dealing (crystal methamphetamines and cocaine, a serious problem everywhere), domestic violence, homicide, burglary (breaking in), theft (vehicle and property), extortion, robbery (by force), rape, assault, driving under the influence and traffic violations. The difference between Fillmore and uncountable cities large and small across this land is the effectiveness of our police force, in part due to its rapid ability to shift focus, as reflected in the large decrease in crimes committed in our city over the past years. During the period of April through June of 2008, a decrease across the board of 30% is noted compared to the same period in 2007. Although robbery remains steady, this number includes a 9% reduction in burglaries, a 30% reduction in assaults, and a total 43% reduction in violent crimes over the same period last year.

Chief Hagel attributes these statistics to the past efforts of former Chief Macedo and his staff, as well as the present ongoing 24/7 efforts of his team. Captain Hagel, a Ventura County native, father, husband and ranch owner (he grows tangerines and avocados), oversees a force that includes a total of twenty-seven officers. A standard day shift includes, four patrol officers, one patrol sergeant, three detectives, two gang officers, one very aggressive motorcycle officer (known as Stinger Bee), and one school patrol officer who shares his time between the high school and the middle school.

The violence at Columbine High School in 1999 brought home the need for improved school security measures and new methods of dealing with our students in an age of cell phones, blackberries, instant text messaging, video phones, internet access and blogs. With the installation of the school patrol officer (funded this coming school year through the City’s reserves and the FUSD), there is zero tolerance for gang and drug related activities and probation violators are incarcerated immediately. Unfortunately, this officer makes more arrests and citations during a regular shift than an average police officer. In an effort to improve the situation, regular meetings are attended by school counselors, school principals, the school patrol officer and Captain Hagel. These measures have diminished gang and tagging activity as a whole, along with the work at the North Fillmore Police Station storefront staffed by retired Fillmore Police Officer Max Pina, and counselor Selina Escalo. They interface and provide free counseling to gang members and their families.

Nevertheless, Chief Hagel admits that without the support, cooperation and vigilance of the community at large, our city would not be the relatively safe and charming place it is today, in many ways, a mid-twentieth century town in a twenty-first century world. Budget cuts due to an ailing economy might in time force changes in the Department; yet Chief Hagel advises that our first line of defense against crime is secure for at least this fiscal year (July 1, 2008-June 30,2009) adding, “Fillmore is not a good place to live, it’s great place to live.”


Midday Friday, the driver of this car lost control heading north up Hillside Drive and crashed into a Pine tree. No cause for the accident was available, and no serious personal injuries were reported. The vehicle suffered substantial damage.
Midday Friday, the driver of this car lost control heading north up Hillside Drive and crashed into a Pine tree. No cause for the accident was available, and no serious personal injuries were reported. The vehicle suffered substantial damage.
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Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

On August 9, 2008, at about 7:35 p.m., Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies assigned to the Moorpark Police Department responded to the Walmart Store on Cochran Street in the City of Simi Valley regarding a report of a domestic violence incident that occurred earlier in the City of Moorpark. The female victim reported that she had been hit in the face by her boyfriend and father of her child, Michael Esparza, while she was driving in the area of Spring Road and Tierra Rejada Road. When the victim pulled over and requested Esparza get out of the car, Esparza pushed her out and began driving away with their three-year-old child still inside the vehicle. Esparza’s actions caused visible injuries to the victim.

After being pushed out of the vehicle, the victim ran after the car requesting Esparza give her their three-year-old child. Esparza pulled the car over, which allowed the victim to get back in the car. While traveling on Madera Road at Cochran Street, the victim attempted to get the attention of a California Highway Patrol Officer who was driving nearby. Becoming alarmed, Esparza turned into the Walmart parking lot on Cochran Street and fled from the vehicle.

Responding Ventura County Sheriff’s deputies were aware that Esparza was wanted for a previous domestic violence incident that had occurred in the Fillmore area and for a violation of parole. Esparza attempted to hide from deputies behind parked vehicles at the location and then ran into the Beverages and More store across from Walmart. Additional Ventura County deputies and Simi Valley Police officers arrived on-scene to assist.

Law Enforcement personnel at the scene set up a perimeter around the building, covering all exits while other personnel entered the store in an attempt to locate Esparza. As deputies entered the store, Esparza exited through a back door where he was taken into custody by waiting deputies.

Esparza was booked at the Ventura County Jail for a no bail violation of parole warrant and felony spousal abuse charges.


Giessinger Winery
Giessinger Winery
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Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

Ventura County Sheriff’s Patrol Deputy Thomas Brown, responded to a 911 report of a theft in progress of 55 gallon plastic wine barrels from the Giessinger Winery in the City of Fillmore. The winery is located directly next to the Fillmore and Western Railroad Station. The empty wine containers are valued at $50.00 each.
Witnesses observed an adult male steal two large carboys (barrels) from the winery and depart in a black pick-up truck. Deputy Brown recognized the description of the vehicle from previous law enforcement contacts. He searched for the truck and located it parked at a private residence in the 200 block of Second Street.
Deputy Brown set up a surveillance of the vehicle and moments later observed the suspect in possession of four stolen carboys. Deputy Brown arrested Mr. Jeffrey Brian Leon 43 of Fillmore for Felony Possession of Stolen Property, 496 PC.
Two of the containers seized were full of diesel fuel. Investigators searched for victims of fuel theft and discovered that the local Fillmore and Western train’s engine was missing 500 gallons of diesel fuel. The train engine had been parked next to the winery where the containers were stolen. The investigation into the theft of the fuel is continuing.

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

Sheriff’s deputies arrested two male suspects, Brian Torres 19 and Ryan Noble 18 from Fillmore of a local tagging crew and a female juvenile 17, after a two-day crime spree in the city of Fillmore. Tagging crews have recently expanded their crimes from typically spraying graffiti to firearm violations, drugs, burglaries and violence. While not aligned with a specific local gang, taggers are dangerous and becoming increasingly bold with their activities.
This investigation by deputies began in the early morning hours of July 17, 2008 when residents reported a residential burglary in the 900 Block of Fourth Street. In addition there were related burglaries in the 1100 Block of El Paseo Street and two burglaries in the1000 Block of B Street.
Fillmore residents also reported related tagging crew graffiti vandalisms in the 1100 Block of Ventura Street. There was also a related attempted theft of a vehicle from the 1000 Block of Howard Street and an assault with a deadly weapon in the 200 Block of B Street.
In this latter assault, a 37 year-old male Fillmore resident was struck with a glass bottle as he sat in his parked truck. The victim sustained a head injury. He was treated at Santa Paula Hospital and released.
Using information from witnesses and community sources, Sheriff’s deputies obtained evidence during the ensuing investigation that led to the identification of two primary tagging crew suspects named Brian Torres and Ryan Noble.
Torres and Noble have extensive criminal backgrounds. On July 17, 2008 Sheriff’s deputies along with Fillmore detectives searched his home and found Torres in possession of property that was stolen from the home in the 1100 Block of El Paseo Street. Torres was charged with felony possession of stolen property (496(a) P.C.) and booked in the County Jail.
The female juvenile was also arrested at the Torres’home for being an accessory to the burglary after the fact ( 32 P.C. ), felony possession of stolen property ( 496(a) P.C.) and misdemeanor obstructing a criminal investigation ( 148(a)(1) P.C. ).
Fillmore Police Department investigators began an immediate investigation into locating other tagging crew conspirators who participated in the crime spree. Ryan Noble was the focus of the investigation. Noble’s picture was disseminated to local Ventura County police agencies.
On 07/26/08, Sheriff’s deputies received information that Noble was in the City of Oxnard. Oxnard Police Department assisted investigators and deputies in the arrest of suspect Ryan Noble. He was charged with two counts of felony residential burglary ( 459 P.C. ), one count of vandalism ( 594(b)(2) P.C.), one count of attempted felony auto theft (664 / 10851 V.C. ) and one count of felony assault with a deadly weapon (245(a)(1) P.C.) Noble was booked in County Jail.
Noble and Torres are members of a Fillmore tagging crew that has been under surveillance and is becoming more and more violent. Additional tagging crew members were arrested during the investigation for drug and violation of probation charges.
The investigation of these cases continues. The Fillmore Police Department seeks your tips to aid in the apprehension of these criminals calling themselves taggers.
Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000.00 reward for information which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against additional persons responsible for these crimes. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at (805) 494-TALK (Thousand Oaks / Moorpark) or (805) 385-TALK (Camarillo / Oxnard / Port Hueneme).

Fillmore attorney John Scoles suggested ways to permit public access to the new all-weather track at the high school during Tuesday’s school board meeting. He believes an entry card and revolving gate would keep bicycle riders and troublemakers out of the newly fenced facility. Scoles has been using the track for evening exercise for more than 30 years. Many other Fillmore residents have also used the track. However, after a multi-million dollar upgrade to the field and track (artificial turf and rubberized all-weather track) the board is unlikely to permit public use due to high maintenance and insurance costs, and the threat of vandalism. The board has not yet decided the issue.
Fillmore attorney John Scoles suggested ways to permit public access to the new all-weather track at the high school during Tuesday’s school board meeting. He believes an entry card and revolving gate would keep bicycle riders and troublemakers out of the newly fenced facility. Scoles has been using the track for evening exercise for more than 30 years. Many other Fillmore residents have also used the track. However, after a multi-million dollar upgrade to the field and track (artificial turf and rubberized all-weather track) the board is unlikely to permit public use due to high maintenance and insurance costs, and the threat of vandalism. The board has not yet decided the issue.

Fillmore Unified School District (FUSD) School Board held the open session of its regular meeting August 5, 2008, at 6:00 p.m. in the Board Room at the District Office. The most animated discussion concerned public use of school facilities.
The Board discussed and approved the 2008-2009 contract with the California School Boards Association to maintain the District's policy manual. This will ensure that the District to has up-to-date written policies that comply with state law, federal law, and administrative regulations. The Board is also determined to have policies that match actual practice in order to promote consistency and effectiveness, increase awareness of Board policies at the schools, reduce ambiguities, and ease communication with parents.
Mike Bush, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, presented a report on the public use of school facilities indicating that those polices and practices are not yet in sync. He is concerned not only about the new stadium complex, but also about pre-schools, Ventura Community College (VC) classes, and the Neil Schmitt Family Resource Center (NSFRC). Current board policy, in compliance with the Civic Center Act and administrative regulations, lists ten purposes for which district grounds and facilities are available, requires organizations to submit applications for specific times and uses, and divides group activities into categories to determine priority of access and fees for access. The policy does not cover the unorganized general public; and facility use by pre-schools, VC, and NSFRC is being analyzed for compliance and reconsidered.
NSFRC provides social services to families. According to the "Use of Facilities Report," services include parenting classes and referrals for: counseling, medical services, legal services, food, and furniture. The report explains that FUSD's contract with NSFRC had provided the free use of one room in exchange for NSFRC assisting students with alternative program applications and college. The contract expired in 2006. NSFRC has continued to use multiple rooms at no charge.
The Board is examining the contracts between FUSD and the three head-start pre-schools that use its facilities. At least two of the contracts are disadvantageous to the district, and changes are being considered.
VC has not been paying for classroom use over the past four years. The decision to provide free classrooms to VC is being reconsidered.
In light of recent budget cuts, Bush seems to be in favor of taking a hard line against under-compensated use of school facilities by outside organizations. He was looking for direction from the Board. The Board will consider his report and the ensuing discussions, has requested that he provide recommendations, and will take action at the next Board meeting.
John Scoles and Joe Aguirre were members of the public urging that individuals be allowed to use the high school's new track. They implied that FUSD's previous administration had secured political support for bonds by unofficially promising that the general public would be allowed to practice on the new track. Bush has found no evidence to support that claim. Aguirre pointed out that the streets are uneven and that this is the only track in Fillmore. Scoles added that he had been running on the FHS track since 1972, that other districts allow the public to use school tracks, and that parents could set a good example for children by running with them. Both Scoles and Aguirre train for races and mentioned that the new track could benefit senior citizens.
An examination of the new stadium complex's schedule indicates that not much time is available for non-school activities. The campus is closed from 7:55 a.m. to 3:07 p.m. and the complex is closed to the public during practices. Various sports teams are scheduled to use the complex for practice until 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m., or 9:00 p.m. depending on the season and day. This does not include game time, and now that CIF is allowing out-of-season practices, the football and soccer coaches hope to hold practices after the track team, which is the only team scheduled to finish as early as 5:00 p.m. David Dollar, President of the Board, said that despite the limited amount of time available there is "no intent to effectively lock out the public."
The Board wants to protect the field from damage. According to various Board members, signs are not enough to prevent behaviors that would damage the new facility. The complex is still closed because it is under construction, but spiked shoes have already damaged the undercoating of the track. Board members have seen golfers and people walking their dogs on the track. Golf equipment and biological contaminants can cause significant damage. The field and track are only guaranteed to last eight years if specified restrictions are enforced. The list of restrictions includes: no food or drinks other than water, no animals, no non-pneumatic wheels, no golfing, no long spike shoes, no bicycles, no rollerblades, no skateboards, and no strollers. The complex could last ten years if these and other restrictions are met.
Non-warrantee repairs would cost at least $3,000 per incident unless the damage was so minimal that FUSD staff could fix it. Simi Valley Unified School District recently had to pay $60,000 to repair graffiti damage to their similar facility. Another similar facility in the county was closed for six weeks of repairs after a bonfire destroyed the field.
The Board also wants to protect FUSD from liability and is considering a policy that would require the complex to be supervised by FUSD staff whenever in use. Outside organizations would have to compensate the district for that cost and provide liability insurance. The complex is being enclosed by a climb-resistant fence. Lack of general public access to the track might be overcome by the formation of an organization which could apply for use under the Civic Center Act. The Board also suggested that the City could be responsible for providing a public track in a city park.
According to the "Use of Facilities Report," "The district may exclude certain school facilities from non-school use for safety or security reasons." Bush surveyed other school districts with similar facilities in Ventura County. Some districts with all-weather tracks and grass fields do not encourage the use of the track by the general public, but do not fight it. Of the four districts with similar fields to FUSD's., only one allows general public use. Of the districts surveyed, only Simi Valley Unified "does not allow any outside organizations to use their fields." In comparison to other districts, FUSD had been charging a ridiculously low fee for track and field use by outside organizations. That might change.
The new complex might seem like a lot of trouble, but it is worth it. Coach Matt Dollar noted that FHS's new field would enhance the teams' ability to compete and reduce injuries. Coach Dave Wilde pointed out that unlike the old field, the new field needs almost no grounds maintenance and is durable enough to have events scheduled back-to-back.
FUSD had received a written notice from the Ventura County Office of Education that 2008-2009 FUSD budget has been reviewed and is approved without any changes.
The Board reviewed the fiscal requirements of FUSD's Retiree Health Insurance Program. The Actuarial Valuation Report indicates that the District should just barely be able to pay all expected benefits. The Board discussed how this could be accomplished through pre-funding. The discussion included interest rates, the accounting practices involved, and the possibility of eliminating liability and making the program a self-perpetuating self-funding system; money must be set aside to bring the program current. Other districts are also facing this problem and some have greater liabilities to address.
The Board also discussed possible impacts of the State's delay in passing a state budget. FUSD might have to strictly prioritize the use of funds if the state defers payments. Payroll is approximately 85% of FUSD's budget and would be a top priority.
The Board approved a resolution to apply for replacement busses through the lower-emission school bus program of Ventura County.
The Board approved a contract with Vicenti, Lloyd, Stutzman, LLP, for annual independent audits of the $10,000,000 capital building program. Such audits are legally required by the Proposition 39 Bond.
The approval of the Bottenfield Construction Change Order for $4,082.90 for the Mountain Vista Hardscape Project passed unanimously without discussion.
Mike Bush reported that, according to Chrissy Schieferle who was Assistant Principal of the high school at the time, from the time the high school fence was completed until the last day of school there were no fights on campus. The Board concluded that the fence's benefits outweigh any inconveniences.
Jerome Staszewski, Director of Information Technology, had recommended a lease for network equipment, including hardware, software and maintenance services. The Board approved the lease. The lease only uses half of the moneys allocated for the network over the next five years, and the equipment was needed to replace older technologies.
Bob Sube, Director of Facility and Construction, reported that the FHS snack bar has an electrical problem because originally the wrong size wiring had been installed. A recent power surge melted the wiring, resulting in a potentially dangerous situation. Rewiring the building will cost $12,000.
A project to completely fence in Mountain Vista Elementary School is going out to bid.
The Board approved the Quarterly Report on Williams Uniform Complaints. The report stated that no complaints were filed in the quarter ending in July. According to the California Department of Education, "Williams Settlement complaints regarding instructional materials, emergency or urgent facilities conditions that pose a threat to the health and safety of pupils, and teacher vacancy or misassignment may be filed anonymously. Schools shall have a complaint form available for these types of complaints. Schools will not reject a complaint if the form is not used as long as the complaint is submitted in writing."
The consent agenda, consisting of routine matters, was reviewed and approved.
John Garnica mentioned that he had been to the Fair and seen many familiar faces from Fillmore in the livestock area.
The field lights at the new stadium complex were tested after the board meeting.

Location of the Hot Spot
Location of the Hot Spot

The ground is sizzling with temperatures rising as high as 812 degrees on a two-acre patch of land in the hills north of Fillmore. Nearly seven weeks ago, firefighters responded to reports of fire and a smoky haze along the parched terrain; however, upon inspection, they encountered no flames, only smoldering dirt and brush.

According to other news sources, including the Ventura County Star, the Los Angeles Times, and Fox News, the smoking “hot spot” in the Ventura County section of Los Padres National Forest continues to puzzle firefighters and geologists even after weeks of monitoring. “It’s a thermal anomaly,” said Ron Oatman, spokesperson for the Ventura County Fire Department. David Panaro, a participating geologist with the Ventura County Watershed Protection Agency said, “This is not your usual geological detective story.” Geologists and firefighters surveyed the area, located in the Sespe Oil Field, but they have not made a definitive determination of what is causing the intense heat. Nevertheless, they do have a theory that does not include human activity.

The “hot spot” is in an active landslide zone with a history of shifting for more than sixty years. Pockets of gas, tar and oil lie several hundred feet below its cracked surface. Allen King, a retired geologist with the U.S. Forest Service visited the site on Friday, August 1. In his opinion, the smoking ground is “a normal occurrence”. He explained that cracks along the landslide’s slope allow oxygen to enter the earth, and those natural hydrocarbon materials (gas, tar and oil) to “seep out” of the fine-grain shale. Underground combustion is a possible result, and could be as deep as 100 feet. Since 1987, high heat levels have been recorded in the area as many as five times. “Hot spots” are not uncommon in areas around the world with high concentrations of hydrocarbons.

The 812 degree temperature, taken last Friday, was measured about a foot below the surface. The depth of hydrocarbon materials “varies tremendously,” says King, also acknowledging that he does not know at what depth combustion is occurring in the oil field. Smoke rose through five cracks in the ground as firefighters cleared brush, and cut a fire line around the area as a precautionary measure. Oatman said that fire officials predict the smoke will come and go until the next heavy rain, when fissures are plugged with water and mud.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management owns the acreage (near the Sespe Oil Field), and leases it to Seneca Resources Corp. The rugged, steep terrain is devoid of buildings and equipment, and gated off from public access. The 3,000 acre Sespe Oil Field, producing nearly 50 million barrels of oil since its discovery in 1887, contains more than 300 oil wells, of which 210 are active.

Although Jeff Kuyper, Executive Director of the Los Padres Forest Watch expressed his deep concern on the potential effects of the “hot spot” on the nearby Condor Sanctuary and the forest’s fire prone environment, the Ventura County Fire Department continues to monitor the area daily and does not consider the “hot spot” to be a threat to public safety.

Story from CBS2/KCAL 9 Los Angeles

Part Two
Fillmore Unified School District
Fillmore Unified School District

As Held says, "This will be a learning and planning year."
Facilities improvements at the high school include a new stadium, track, and exterior paint. The staff is preparing the classrooms. Eight new teachers have been hired, including two Specialized Academic Instruction (SAI) teachers. Just two years ago, the students in those two classes would have been sent to other districts, including El Rio, for instruction that could meet their educational needs. Last year, the county ran an SAI class on the FHS campus, but this year the classes are part of the high school. After the first week of school, school will start late on Wednesdays to provide collaborative time for teachers.
Wilber considers the ongoing challenge of FHS to be improving student achievement and test scores. Last year, the students set a new record for passing the required exit exam. 80% of students taking the test for the first time passed the English and Language Arts portion of the test. 75% of students taking the test for the first time passed the Math portion of the test. He hopes to match or exceed those numbers this year.
Wilber had left his position as FHS Principal because being a teacher at FHS allowed him to spend more time with his children and volunteer with their sports teams. He is happy to be back as Principal now that his children are four years older. Wilber is looking forward to working with students, parents, and staff to make it a great year for everyone.
The School District's motivating theme this year is "Be the Change". At Board meetings, the School Board will be recognizing key people who are positive influences.
The School District's goals this year include increasing parent interaction and involvement, improving communication, maintaining facilities, improving discipline and attendance, increasing student achievement, and providing the highest quality staff.
Superintendent Jeff Sweeney believes that a major challenge in the upcoming year will be to raise student achievement despite a budget cut of roughly one million dollars. Some one-time funding sources were found to cushion the blow, but the school district worked hard to find ways to reduce spending without affecting school quality. The effects of the cuts will be mostly indirect and have not been determined. For example, school busing was significantly reduced. Schools will not be busing students from the main part of town, where most schools are located, unless the students have special circumstances, such as a disability. Students will still be bused from Bardsdale and other outlying areas.
The Bridges free after school program continues. It is designed to keep children safe and provides exercise, nutrition, and recreation, as well as an academic component. Participants are required to attend regularly. Parents who are interested in having their children attend should contact Carol Barringer in the district office.
Sweeney said that when the school campuses have a fresh and clean look it instills a sense of pride. Sweeney mentioned that the students in football practice this week seem motivated by the new stadium complex, and that the complex will benefit the entire community. Sweeney anticipates great things for the community and stated, "The new school year affords us all an opportunity for a fresh start."
Parent-School communication is very important to the school system. The Superintendent and Principals are interested in both positive and negative comments from parents. They want to encourage parent involvement. FHS will have back-to-school night on September 10th. Other schools will have back-to-school nights in August.
FHS is holding Freshman Orientation on Monday, August 4th, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Registration will be August 7th for Freshmen and Sophomores, and August 8th for Juniors and Seniors. The Student Store will be having a sale during registration: students who purchase both an ASB card and an Annual will save $15. If parents have not received registration materials, they should contact the school at 524-6100.
FMS will be distributing schedules and registering students on August 11th and 12th from 9:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Parents of elementary students are encouraged to contact the school if their children are not yet registered. Registration packets will also be sent home on the first day of school.