Letters to the Editor
July 17, 2014

To the Editor:
What was it like to grow up on the grounds of the Fillmore Refinery? How large was the oil industry here? Visit the Fillmore Museum at 340 Main Street (In the two story bunkhouse building) to see photos and information regarding the Refinery, the local oil industry and its historic relationship to our city.
We are open Tuesday , Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m.-4 p.m., Thursday from 1p.m.- 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The museum also contains hundreds of photos and stories of local pioneers, farmers and businesses.
Martha Gentry, Executive Director

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To the Editor:
Dear Parent, Teachers & Community Volunteers:
It’s that time of year…….REGISTRATION TIME!!!!!
If you are willing to volunteer to help with registration, please let me know. Email me at blemons@fillmore.k12.ca.us . Let me know which day(s) and what hours you can help!! The more, the merrier !
Registration is Thursday, July 31st (11th & 12th graders) and Friday, August 1st (9th & 10th graders) from 9 – 3:30. If you are able to help ANY or BOTH days , I would really appreciate it. It will be a great time to meet our new principal, Tom Ito. Thank you very much!
Barbara Lemons

 


 
Letters to the Editor
July 10, 2014

To the Editor:
Last year, the relatively new executive director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC), Darren Kettle, arbitrarily decided the Fillmore & Western Railway (F&W) wasn't paying enough toward maintenance costs on the county-owned railroad line. This was in spite of the fact there was a long-standing contractual agreement that had been amicably made by both parties and specified those responsibilities in detail. Instead of trying to privately discuss his concerns, Mr. Kettle chose to publicly make an issue of it and end a 20-plus year relationship between the parties had always been extremely cordial.
I can attest to the positive and productive nature of that relationship. I was the tourist railroad professional who was hired in 1993 to transform what had been exclusively a movie train operation serving Hollywood into a passenger railroad offering rides to the public. I had the pleasure of working with then-VCTC executive director Ginger Gherardi and her wonderful staff, all of whom were dedicated to doing things that would benefit then and future generations of Venturans. What is going on today is a far cry from those halcyon days. The present VCTC is an embarrassment.
Dave and Tresa Wilkinson of the F&W – who I know to be very reasonable people – were not close-minded when Mr. Kettle ignored common professional courtesy and opted to take a confrontational approach. They were always willing to negotiate. They even publicly offered to assume all of the maintenance costs, entirely relieving the VCTC of what was Mr. Kettle's original stated problem. This was not acceptable. Solving the stated problem was not good enough. The VCTC opted, instead, to arbitrarily cancel the railroad's track lease and took actions to evict it.
If the railroad goes away, the entire burden of maintenance will fall on the VCTC. How is this a solution? Or was that ever the real problem?
The VCTC or Mr. Kettle, apparently, wants the F&W gone – for unspecified reasons – even though this would be to the detriment of the economies of cities of Fillmore and Santa Paula. Closing the railroad puts dozens of people out of work immediately. It also economically impacts the County of Ventura in ways that can't be determined now, but will be slowly revealed over time. More jobs will certainly be cut by local businesses in the near future as tourism in the Heritage Valley region shrinks. Local businesses and residents that planned their finances and assumed debt on the assumption of a certain income level may find themselves in default. People's real-world concerns have been ignored by the VCTC every step of the way.
I have been disappointed that in the many months this issue has been dragging on, no one in government at the cities or the county has vigorously protested this situation and demanded that the VCTC seriously negotiate a solution that benefits all parties. Maybe everyone was just hopeful that rationality would prevail and at some point this situation would be resolved. Actions always speak louder than words and it is now abundantly clear that the VCTC is not willing to negotiate – period – and never was. They either have a hidden agenda of some sort as an organization, or the VCTC executive director has gotten so far into a "pissing match" of his own making that he is now bound and determined to "win" at any cost – including misrepresenting truths – the good of the county be damned. Neither is acceptable.
Many questions come to mind: Why haven't leaders at all levels of city and county government been looking out for the best interests of their constituents? Why have the county supervisors and the VCTC board of directors let their employee behave like a common bully when people's livelihoods are at stake? Why hasn't anyone demanded to know – in detail – exactly what the VCTC plans to do with the property in the future, if its railroad use is being terminated? If a "better use" for the property is contemplated, how much will this cost the county to develop and where will that money come from in these tough economic times? Since the VCTC's reasons for permitting this situation to exist in the first place aren't publicly known, have they been making decisions behind closed doors in violation of open meeting laws? Is there any sort of accountability in Ventura County for actions by government agencies that are detrimental to the best interests of its residents? And finally, why hasn't the press been asking these questions; is investigative journalism dead in Ventura County?
Looking from the outside at this sad situation, I'm seeing elected officials who may need to be replaced and a minimum of one government employee who should be shown the door. Public servants who aren't serving the best interests of the public are useless. Bullies only prevail when good people do nothing.
Larry Jensen
Gunnison, Colo.

 


 
Letters to the Editor
July 3, 2014

To the Editor:
The Fillmore Historical Museum is happy to report the recent receipt of a $4,500.00 grant from Chevron Corporation for programming , accessioning and display purposes in support of the Fillmore Incorporation Centennial Events. The Museum is a 100% volunteer organization and appreciates the support given by businesses and individuals in the community. If you should want to know more about the history of Fillmore, Piru, Sespe and Bardsdale please come to visit your local Museum.
Our goal is to preserve and display the history of our four local communities. Visit the museum to see artifacts from Fillmore’s early days including many pictures of the city as it was 100 years ago. The Museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9-12 and 1-4, and on Thursday afternoon from 1-4. We are also open from 10:00 to 3:00 on Saturday.
Please join us on July 10th at the Museum’s Southern Pacific Depot for a reception from 4:00 pm until 6 pm jointly hosted by Chevron Corporation and the Fillmore Historical Museum to celebrate the 100 years since incorporation.
Martha Gentry
Executive Director

 


 
Letters to the Editor
June 26, 2014

To the Editor:
Update from last months Chevron meeting. We were shown the pictures again of their ideas for the site. But there was a new idea that they talked about. One of their ideas is to have a solar farm on the site. There was discussion on how this may be a better option for not only the near by neighbors but the town as well. Solar panels could be put in sooner, which would cause less disruption to neighbors along with not the height of buildings that are not wanted in some areas. I have talked with some of my near by neighbors and they all have said that if they HAD to have anything then they would rather have solar panels. Solar panels would not be exposing large numbers of people to possible toxins on the site which is a superfund site and always will be a superfund site. In case of emergency an idea was talked over by some about hooking the solar panels up to the Fillmore water supply. This would provide emergency power to keep water available, which I think would be a great thing for Fillmore since Chevron keeps saying that they want to benefit Fillmore. I asked Chevron and others in an email on this but did not receive any feed back form Chevron but another representative of theirs replied that Chevron will need to see if this is profitable for them for it to really be considered. In the email I also asked if it would be possible to see the names of prospective businesses who have an interest in the industrial site, because I still belive no one will want such a poor location of a site for business on top of a superfund site. I was told that Chevron reps would need to be asked first to see if they wanted to give this information or if they were using non-discloser clauses. Interesting? This week anyone who did not get a chance to look at Chevrons plans last month can do so Thursday the 26th from 4:30-5:30 pm at the senior center. The committee only will then leave to do a site tour. Please look for your opportunity to voice you opinion if you have one during a city council meeting that will be announced in the Fillmore Gazette soon.
Thank you for your time,
Kathy Pace

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To the Editor:
A grateful & appreciated thank you to the Piru EMT’s who came to my rescue in the wee hours of Saturday morning. And a thank you to all emergency personnel.
Thank you again.
J. Council

 

Click here for Attractions Spa website


 
Letters to the Editor
June 19, 2014

To the Editor:
"The staff and families at Fillmore Middle School would like to publicly thank Moon Valley Nursery in Fillmore for generously providing beautiful trees and greenery for the FMS promotion ceremony on June 12th. FMS had 230 students participate in the ceremony and over 1000 guests attended the promotion celebration. We wish our promoting 8th graders good luck as they continue their education at Fillmore High School"
Scott Carroll
Principal, Fillmore Middle School

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To The Editor:
I would like to say thanks to all of the following who so graciously donated vehicles, space, time and effort for the 2014 May Festival Parade: Sonshine Pre-School, Super Seal and Stripe, William L. Morris, Deputy Leo Vasquez and the Explorers, Ron Smith and the Boyscouts, Darlene Holmes, Amber Chewning, RJ Stump, Tyler Stump, Kyle Popp Lynn Cole and Gabi Farrar. The parade would not have been possible without all of you and your help. Lynn and Gabi THANK YOU for stepping up to fill in at the last minute. Thank you to the Citizens of Fillmore for enduring the road closures, especially those who live on Shiells Drive and surrounding streets, for putting up with all of the traffic and no parking on parade day; to all of the parade entrants for your patience and cooperation. Thank You So Very Much!!!
Sincerely,
Joni Stump
Following is a categorical listing of the parade winners:
Floats: 1st Place Perces Kenpo Karate
2nd Place Fillmore Raiders Cheer
3rd Place Ventura County Search and Rescue
Walking Groups: 1st Place Luv 2 Dance
2nd Place Zumba Studio
3rd Place ACS Flmr/Piru Relay for Life
Cars: 1st Place Nosotros Car Club
2nd Place Ventura County Model A Club
Equestrian: 1st Place Charros De Paloma
2nd Place Rancho Arroyo
Novelty: 1st Place Fillmore So Cal Bears
2nd Place Calli McKeown Ultimate Grand Supreme and Jazzy Rivera Queen
3rd Place Scooter Crue - Brad and Tayler Balades
Other: 1st Place Thunderball Youth Team
2nd Place Cash Ryder
3rd Place Cinco de Mayo Court
Twirlers: 1st Place Pleasant Valley Hi Steppers
For those of you who were unable to attend the awards ceremony immediately following the parade, your award may be picked up in the Chamber Office during normal business hours. Please give the Chamber a call to let them know when you will be coming by, (805) 524-0351.

 
Letters to the Editor
June 12, 2014

To the Editor:
I dislike being labeled a "complainer" so am always reluctant to write letters of this nature. I have found in the past the best way to get something done is to let the public know what the problem is and who's job it is to resolve that problem. When an entity knows that not just one person, but many, are aware of something that needs correction they tend to sit up, take notice and hopefully do something about it.
Having lived in Fillmore for all of my seventy-nine years I consider Fillmore my home. I want to see it hopefully prosper, if not that, at least not back-slide. Thus I am especially aware of anything that could cost the City financially. I will never criticize unless I have an answer to back it up.
About three months ago I noticed the "rules and regulations" posted sign at the Three Rivers Skateboard Park was missing. Some of you are saying, "So what, it isn't obeyed anyhow." This is just the point, to my knowledge that sign is there to inform the users of the park of the dangers and how to minimize them. By having the sign in full view the city is not liable if someone gets hurt because of not adhering to those rules.
Now...... for about three months that I am aware of there has been no "warning sign," this could make the city liable in case of injury. I had concerns years ago, when the skateboard park was first constructed and saw the users were not complying with the rules. So I called the city attorney. He informed me that if there was a rules sign in place and the city did not monitor the park the for safety violations the city was not liable. This places the liability fully on the users.
Why didn't I bring the missing sign to the attention of the city.......I did, about one month ago. After being referred to the one in charge of "signs," he did remember that the sign was taken down because of excessive graffiti and he would have to dig it out and get a new one made. Dig it out? Sounds as though this was not high on the important things to do priority list. Well, that was over a month ago, still no "sign" and the city seems not too concerned about a liability suit......I am and that is why I informed all of you in hope that, if this is what it takes, to "shame" the city into correcting the matter.
Don't mess with Big John...
I ♥ Fillmore
John Heilman

 
Letters to the Editor
June 5, 2014

To the Editor:
As the summer heat and east winds pick up Chevron is busy applying more layers of lipstick to the stinking, toxic pig known as the Pacific Coast Pipeline Project, an EPA Superfund Site. This is the same swine that they plan to dress up as a commercial/industrial development they call “Fillmore Works.” It’s an offer our leaders must refuse.
Within the next year or so our city leaders will have to decide whether to seek approval to annex this stink hole into the city limits under the guise of “economic development.” The last I checked, the city still has a few hundred acres of prime light industrial/commercial zoned land along the 126 corridor. This land, which is flat and has easy access to water and other utilities and is away from homes and schools, sits vacant.
Why then, would the city need to take ownership of a permanently contaminated site (on County land) that has numerous other drawbacks? This site east of Pole Creek has an earthquake fault running right down the middle of it. The hillsides above it are part of an ancient landslide formation. It is within 20 yards of residences and San Cayetano School’s recreation area. The hillsides are a constant wildfire danger. There are issues with providing water and treating wastewater and, of course, it sits along the area of the Pole Creek channel and flooding is always a possibility.
The EPA has determined that this site will forever be contaminated to the point that no residences or schools could ever be built there. What about the future workers who could be putting in 50-hour work weeks for years? When they get sick from cancers or respiratory illnesses and they (and their lawyers) blame their ailments on the contamination at their worksite, the City of Fillmore will no doubt be held liable.
Chevron officials arrogantly expect our city to accept their sick pig of a site and welcome it into our home. Why on Earth would we be so foolish?
Art Sandford.
Fillmore

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To the Editor:
Yesterday, May 28, 2014, the Ventura Sheriff’s Department made a more than impressive showing of professionalism, fast response to a community need and effective team work that covered every possible area and produced a positive result.
One of the residents of El Dorado Estates was reported missing and they immediately whipped into action, getting out an all-points-bulletin to be on the alert for the at-risk senior citizen, searching the park thoroughly and even organizing a phone message program to advise Part residents to keep an eye out for Josephine Lorenz.
Her family would like to thank the Deputies involved, Dep. Martin, Dep. Ryerson, Dep. LeMar, Sgt. Sparks, Detective Almazan, Dan Amberian, Detective John Fox and the well-trained and highly effective Canine Unit that was brought into play and all of the others not here mentioned—you know who you are, although we do not. Without this great forum through the Gazette, we would have no way to personally thank all involved, starting with everyone in Fillmore who helped us, and ending with everyone is Ventura County who promptly lent a caring, competent and professional hand.
You all deserve accolades, and an eternal commendation for going beyond the call of duty to assist a family in distress. We will remember your amazing professionalism forever!
The Lorenz Family

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To the Editor
The Ebell Club has a long history of supporting the arts in Fillmore. The club has presented its members with a wide variety of dramatic and musical performances. It has contributed to the high school band and drama groups. And it has generously contributed to Sespe Players.
Those contributions over the years have enabled Sespe Players to purchase lighting equipment and set materials. And we have seen the faces of Ebell members in the audiences of our productions.
This week marks the last gathering of the Fillmore Ebell Club. Over the many years the members have spent countless hours together, dining, playing cards, catching up with dear friends and enjoying their programs. Longtime members have each served multiple times in the various positions of office. This is a truly unique organization that has done much for our community.
As Ebell disbands and distributes funds to the many deserving groups in Fillmore, once again Sespe Players is grateful for the donation.
Thank you again for all of the support, past and present. Fillmore will greatly miss the Ebell Club.
Sincerely,
Christine Villegas, Secretary Sespe Players

 
Letters to the Editor
May 22, 2014

To The Editor:
Without others many things are not possible. With the 102nd May Festival in the books, I wanted to personally acknowledge and publically “THANK” those that helped make it happen. It is truly a thankless job and for the past few months, especially this past weekend all of these individuals showed their true dedication and commitment. Many assume that they are “paid” to do this event, however that is a false statement. They all dedicate themselves, take time away from their families all for the love of this community. These volunteers have always been a huge help to me as they combine the rare talents of grace-under-pressure with a friendliness “can do” spirit. Ron Smith, Helen Dominguez, Christie Neal, RJ & Joni Stump, Kristen Dollar, Gabi Farrar, Shawn Diaz, Amber Holmes, Darlene Holmes, Craig Cole, Greg Nunez and all of the volunteers who helped, served or sold tickets during the event.
This event also would not be what it is without Rico Santana along with his sound crew, Mark Ortega and all of the Fillmore High School Alumni volunteers as well as Boy Scout Troop 406 along with their parents and families. City Staff, Dave Rowlands, Rick Neal, Annette Cardona, David Smallwood, Rigo Landeros, Kevin McSweeney, Hannah Stuart, Ines Ebell , Patty Virto, Leo Vasquez, the Ventura County Sheriff Explorers together with Dave Wareham and the Ventura County Sheriffs Department.
Lastly to Evelyn Hasty throughout the 15+ years you have been involved with this event, your knowledge, accounting & office skills as well as just the plain simple fact that you kept all of us “in-line” were sorely missed this year. You are definitely a pillar of strength and an example that many should follow.
My sincerely apologies for anyone that I might have forgotten. Thanks again to all.
Lynn Cole

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Letter to the Editor,
Hello Fillmore! What a great week we had last week starting off the 100 celebration with such a great May Festival. Our town is such a great place to live, with the exception of
Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep….this is the sound that near by neighbors, teachers and students of the Chevron superfund site hear on a daily bases for 8 hours 5 days a week. Yup it is like an alarm clock going off all day long. Oh but I am jumping to quick to my monthly rant. At our last meeting we were told that the soil cleanup is being completed. The first loads were sent out of town in the red bins and the later days work the dirt was moved to another location on-site to be sorted. Now there was a bit of discussion if the dirt that was just moved to another location would be contaminating dirt that has already been cleaned. We were told by the Chevron representative it is only debris. We were told by the EPA representative that a contaminant is a contaminant and would need to be cleaned up. Some questions that were asked were: How far is the air quality tested? Will children be evaluated to consider their exposure? Who decides what tests get done? Who is at risk? The EPA representative said everyone is at risk. Is it safe to build there? EPA representative stated that when it is finished it will be safe. Will building there be better than grass or natural plants? EPA said either would be fine, the top fill of clean soil covers the problem. One is not better than another.
Now I have recently talked to the planning commission and City council on how I do not feel that Chevron is on the up and up and I feel that they will not be truthful to our City council and the town as a whole, so I think I should back that up by some examples I have experienced and some that people have told me about .1) I went to a Chevron meeting 1 year ago this month and “no Chevron rep” was present but instead the sent another consultant company to run the meeting. The rep gave nice but out dated information. Months later one of the people whom I did not know at the May meeting showed up to be the Chevron Rep giving the latest report. 2) When I asked about the 20 ft hill in the back of my house I was told it was for drainage, after having an engineer look at the grading plan it was determined that is only half the truth. The hill is actually a pad for a future building. Back in 2013 I was told that “the slope won’t be that steep nor that close to the channel”. 3) Chevron has said that they will not do anything that would hurt our down town merchants but in their hand out on page 2 it states the project is “anticipated for commercial use such as restaurants, offices and retail stores”. 4) Chevron has told me and others that work would not be done on windy days. Then it changed to no work on east wind days, then it changed to no work on days where the winds are 20+ mph. 5) Chevron has told some neighbors that there have not been reports of odors. 6) I have been told by some one being paid by Chevron that any time my name comes up on the web they are notified, creepy. Also when I have recently gone to take pictures of the site work being done I am now being photographed also, again creepy.
The Remediation & Redevelopment meeting (Chevron superfund site) will be tonight Thursday May 22, 2014 5:30 p.m @ the Fillmore Senior Center. Please come and learn more about this project so you will be ready to voice your opinion on the matter very soon. The city will announce the date of the public comment soon so look for it.
Thanks again for your time,
Sincerely
Kathy Pace

 
Letters to the Editor
May 15, 2014

To the Editor:
I would like to thank the members of the Fillmore Ebell club for their generosity toward the music program in the Fillmore Unified School District. As our program has grown, the Ebell Club has consistently donated funds that have allowed us to purchase some of the more expensive instruments that we use in band including baritones and tubas. Even with constant fundraising we would not have been able to purchase these instruments due to the expense. The Ebell members should be most proud in knowing that, for many years to come, students will be able to learn and perform using instruments that would otherwise not be available. Most recently, we were able to purchase two new sousaphones for our marching band at FHS.
The FHS Marching Band will use their new tubas for the first time this Saturday at the May Festival Parade. The high school band will also perform at the final Ebell club meeting on May 27. Our tuba players look forward to playing our new instruments.
Thank you for your belief and commitment to music education.
Greg Godfrey, Band Director
Fillmore High School /Fillmore Middle School

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To the Editor:
The Fillmore Band Boosters would like to thank the Fillmore Ebell Club for their continued support of our music program and the opportunities they have provided for our students over many years. Recently, the Ebell club donated funds that allowed us to purchase tubas for our marching band. The Band Boosters goal is to support our programs through fundraising and help to provide opportunities for our students through music education. The Ebell club has been extremely generous to our bands for many years and has helped us to meet our goals of providing instruments for students.
Thanks for your support!
Fillmore Band Boosters

 
Letters to the Editor
May 8, 2014

To the Editor:
After reading your rant about the gasoline pump meter, I did some simple arithmetic to see if your complaint was justified. Today regular was $4.439 at the Fillmore Chevron, which would be $97.66 to fill a 22 gallon tank. That is approximately $10 less than what you spent. If the gas were $0.20 per gallon cheaper at the time you made your purchases, it would have cost $93.36 for 22 gallons. It appears you were not overcharges. Why pay more to pump gas at Chevron when across the street it is $0.10 to $0.20 cheaper? Maybe you had 200 Vons points for a 20 cent discount.
I do wish the Gazette would spend a little more time on some of the real issues that impact Fillmore. Besides the school issues, an important issue is the Transportation Commission vs Fillmore Western Railroad. It deserves more investigation than the other media has given it. Both the L.A. Times and the Star have cover it superficially. No one has asked why the Transportation Commission staff allowed so many years to elapse before claiming that Fillmore Western was not fulfilling the contract. It would appear that the Commission staff and Committee members are incompetent and should be replaced. Does anyone remember the overgrown railroad right-of-way and graffiti covered crossing signals before Fillmore Western came to town?
Bob Morris

 
Letters to the Editor
May 1, 2014

To the Editor:
I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of those who contributed to the success of Fillmore High School's sixteenth annual arts show “Euphoria”. It takes a lot of people and a lot of hard work, dedication and talent to coordinate an event such as this. Thank you to Fillmore Ebell Club, Fillmore Lions Club, Fillmore Women’s Service Club, Soroptomist International of Fillmore, Fillmore Rotary Club and Fillmore High School ASB for your donations which help to make this event possible. Thank you to Lucy for being a patron of this event. To the staff and teachers at FHS who supported the student’s efforts and allowed students to take part in hanging the show…To the custodial staff , Baldo and Johnny- thanks for your help. Thank you to Max and Susan Pina, and to the students who stayed late to break down the show and clean up after the event. I am so appreciative of your help.
Special thanks to Greg Godfrey and the fantastic members of the Fillmore High School Concert Band who played at the event- the musical concert helped to make the evening a resounding success… To Mary Ellen Wortham and FHS photography department for your photos. … To Josh Overton and the drama department for their outstanding performances. Thank you to the parents and the community who attended the show and helped to make this a special night for the students. Last, but not least, to all the student artists, photographers, actors, and musicians who put in numerous hours preparing for this event, hosting and cleaning up after a long day and night- especially my Art students and former students who came back to help- thank you- without you there couldn't be a show. I am very proud of all of you.
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Fillmore High School Art Department

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To the Editor:
On Friday April 25th Fillmore FFA and Rotary Club of Fillmore hosted an exciting evening of casino fun. This event drew over 150 guests who attended for some great food, drinks and friendly Casino fun. This could not have been possible if it were not for our generous Casino Night sponsors, as well as all the community members who came out to support the event. The money raised will go towards helping both organizations with funding yearly scholarships to our local students and many other projects that help the community.
We would like to thank the following Sponsors, Wm L. Morris, Bill and Chappy Morris, Aguirre financial & insurance services, Barkley insurance, Scott & Laura Beylik, Edward Jones Investments, Fillmore Rental, Fillmore Air Conditioning & Heating, KLS, Jan Marholin, McGrath family, Murphy Pump & Well Service, Old Fashion Country Butcher, Otto & Sons Nursery, Oxnard Lemon, Palmer Farm Management, Peterson Family, Quality Ag, RMP services, Somers Ranches, Titan Tactical products & solutions, Water Art Design, Valley Tractor, Ventura County Deputy Sheriff Assoc., Jenifer Yeargen. We would also like to thank all the business and individuals who donated raffle prizes.
Rotary club of Fillmore, Rigo Landeros, President Fillmore FFA boosters, Scott Beylik
President

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To the Editor:
The membership and board of directors of the Fillmore Historical Museum were pleased yesterday, April 22, to receive an extremely generous donation of $20,000.00 from the ladies of the Fillmore Ebell Club. The buildings and collection of artifacts of the museum represent the shared history of Fillmore, Piru, Sespe and Bardsdale. Their donation will help assure the continued operation of the museum and assist us in our mission to collect, protect, and display these historic artifacts and buildings. We sincerely thank them for their support of the museum.
It is our hope that all members of our community will take the opportunity during this year’s centennial of Fillmore’s incorporation to visit the museum and learn about our fascinating, more than 127 year history.
Thank you
Martha Gentry
Executive Director
Fillmore Historical Museum

 
Letters to the Editor
April 24, 2014

To the Editor:
Chapter 3 Chevron superfund site.
Well I hope that many of you had a wonderful Easter holiday, mine was good but of course it had the always underlining presence of Chevron. As we stepped outside into our backyard to hunt Easter eggs we once again had the odor of petroleum, a dirty gym locker and bad foot odor. Lucky for us we had plans to visit family else were. The last Chevron meeting was an interesting one, of the EPA letting us know that we are all safe and that they recommend people are not on site 24/7 for 70 years but that it would be o.k. for people to work 5 days a week for 8 hours a day. I hope that no one plans on working overtime or on weekends in the superfund business and industrial park. As they were working on drainage this month they found more dabree (brick pit and stuff) that they are working on. Thus the smell is back. I had a question of concern about the possibility of contaminated soils entering pole creek during our last rains and if they posed a danger to the homes and school down stream and was told by EPA that there was no problem. I was abruptly told by a Chevron rep that it was not possible for that to happen, but as I showed pictures of just that happening another Chevron rep did acknowledge the problem and said that it was taken care of. Yah, on Monday when they started their work week. The pictures were taken Saturday and it rained until Sunday. There were comments on the size of the 20 foot hill behind some of the neighbor’s homes, and their feelings that all was not on the up and up.
I talk with many people about this subject and a retired fireman brought up a new concern to me the other day. If Chevron has its way and we allow them to bring in light industry into this area it may be a big issue one day. Now many of you know this hill on the east side of Fillmore has been known to catch fire about every 5-10 years, now put that with many businesses some of which will no doughtily have permits for a few gallons of toxic or flammable chemicals of all different kinds (since we have no idea who all will be there renting) put these together and we are just asking for trouble. I was told by an official I was talking to the other day that there would be distance from the hill area and the site. Well, I have lived on this street and watch it burn down the hill jump across Pole Creek catch fire in a tree on the east side of Island View and then jump the street and start a fire in my neighbors gutter. So I am thinking this is a serious concern. Now I have been told that I need to accept what is going on and that we the citizens (neighbors) of Fillmore have no say in this, I say we do. What would be best for Fillmore would be to fill the empty lots along the 126 to show we have progress and not that we are struggling. We need to fill the empty business buildings through out our town to boost revenue and after these both have been done first and if our city can support it financially then we should then and only then ponder the idea of the Chevron site plan. It is in my opinion in a poor location filled with fault line issues, ancient mudslide history and on top of a superfund site. Not sure how many people will want to work or bring there lively hood into such an area.
We will be having another meeting tonight Thursday April 24, 2014 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the senior center. We will discuss risk assessments.
Hope to see you there,
Kathy Pace

 
Letters to the Editor
April 17, 2014

To the Editor:
Mary Ford, you have no integrity
Before I begin I need to make it clear, I am not speaking for the School Board or the District only as one Board Member of Five.
Once again, the anointed one, the oracle of Fillmore has spoken. The Gazette, Mr. Ashim, and Mary Ford have incorrectly described a letter that I received from the Office of the District Attorney. The letter was not a "reprimand" as stated. The dictionary defines reprimand as "a severe or formal rebuke". The letter from Michael D. Schwartz, Special Assistant District Attorney, states "This letter should serve as a reminder as to the public's rights under the Brown Act." My actions in that particular situation were not arrogant or extreme rudeness it was a mistake on my part and I own it. but for you to make it more than it was shows a lack of integrity.
You mention Mr. Mesfun and legal documents, there was no guilt found, only a settlement out of court. Is it possibles that Mr. Mesfun was holding teachers accountable and some ineffective, below average teachers decided to retaliate against him? Mr. Mesfun has a reputation of weeding out weak and ineffective teachers and that is why he was brought to Fillmore High School. You also mention Dr. Nishino"s accomplishments, schools that are failing, failed policies, distrust and fear among teachers , the legality of his contract. Before Dr. Nishino came to Fillmore all of our schools were in Program Improvement for well over five years. This was not his fault, he inherited a bad situation. The District was in danger of being taken over by the State. He and Mr. Johnson prevented the state from taking over the District. The Alternative Governance Board saved the District, an idea presented to the Board by Board Member Dave Wilde and Mr. Schieferly. When it comes to fear and distrust I will keep it simple, accountability and effectiveness in the classroom, I will leave the rest to your imagination! Dr. Nishino's contract is a public document, which has been reviewed by our attorneys. Mrs. Ford, all you have to do is do your homework.
Gate keeper yes, racist no. Let me be clear, I have never and do not ever believe Mr. and Mrs. Ashim to be racist. Your imagination and emotions have gotten the best of you. My comments were not designed to create an us versus them or white against Mexican or African American. Your last paragraph does nothing more than to incite people's emotions by raising the issue of racism. Is it your goal to stir the community with your insinuations? Many times I have personally congratulated you on your "Pride in America" program at the Middle School. But since your retirement when have you taken the time to talk to me about issues burning in your mind? When have you tried to understand the other side of the issue? When have you tried to take me aside and say, explain to me what this is all about?
In light of the season I am compelled to believe it is time to stop this nonsense of bickering and negative comments. We all have strong convictions about who has the greater virtue or moral excellence. In a conciliatory gesture I have come to the conclusion that it is time to forgive, for all to stop the anger and resentment towards one another. It is in my nature to speak my mind and say it like it is even if it hurts, but I can also be kind and respectful. Today is Holy Thursday and tomorrow Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ was sacrificed for all the sins humans have committed. And two days later, Easter Sunday, the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, since we all have the same goal, to do what is best for all the students of this District, it is incumbent to work towards this end. So I say to Mary Ford, the Ashims and others, God Bless You, and most of all, God Bless America.
Tony Prado
School Board Member

 
Letters to the Editor
April 10, 2014

To the Editor:
Mr. Prado, you have no dignity.
As a long time member of the Fillmore Unified School District Board of Education, you are certainly aware of the dictates of the Brown Act. At the March 18 Board meeting, you exhibited arrogant disregard of this law and such extreme rudeness that the office of the Ventura County District Attorney was compelled to issue a Letter of Reprimand.
Rather than apologize for embarrassing the Board, the School District, and the people of Fillmore, you chose to blame Karen Ashim, the recently retired high school head counselor, and attempted to assassinate her character. You claim that Mrs. Ashim and her husband have “recklessly damaged” the reputation of Mr. Mesfun, the high school principal. According to legal documents, Mr. Mesfun accomplished this himself. You said that the Ashims had “distorted” Superintendent Nishino’s accomplishments. What has he accomplished in Fillmore? Schools that are failing, students in danger of not graduating because of failed policies, an atmosphere of distrust and fear among teachers and staff, and unanswered questions about the legality of his compensation. You also claim that they have “maligned” the Board. I regret that the Board needed no help in maligning themselves.
Mrs. Ashim’s attendance at Board meetings is motivated by her desire to continue to help students. I applaud her persistence and her courage. Unfortunately, as this Superintendent and Board have often demonstrated, in this district, courage is a punishable offense. She has done nothing of which to be ashamed. Mr. Prado, you had the audacity to suggest that she is racist and even used the phrase “high tech lynching”. For this you should be ashamed. You imply that she purposely didn’t allow certain Mexican students to take AP courses. With a student population of 86% Hispanic students, it would be impossible to deny entry into these classes based on race. Was she a “Gate Keeper”? No, she encouraged all students to take courses that challenged them. There are only so many AP classes. There are only so many students capable of success in these classes. Were mistakes made? Undoubtedly, she is only human. I thought you were above the indecent claim of racism in any non-Hispanic who didn’t agree with you. I regret that I was mistaken. Lastly, Mrs. Ashim deserves more respect than to be referred to as “this woman” which you did twelve times in your diatribe. It convinces me that my contention is accurate.
Mr. Prado, you have no dignity.
Mary Ford

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To the Editor:
I would like to thank the members of the Rotary Club of Fillmore for their generous donation of $100 to help with this year Arts Show. The donation will go towards the expenses of putting on this years’ event “Euphoria” scheduled for Thursday April 10th at the Memorial Building.
On behalf of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Fillmore High School, thank you!
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Visual Arts
Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair
Fillmore High School

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To the Editor:
I would like to thank the members of the Ebell Club of Fillmore for their generous donation of $1000. The donation will help our department with not only this years expenses, but for future art shows as well. The members of the Ebell club have given generously over the years to the Fillmore High School Visual and Performing Arts programs. Thank you for all you have done.
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Visual Arts
Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair
Fillmore High School

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To the Editor,
I have known Mr. Russom Mesfun for the past 5 years and I have been fortunate to work with him on a variety of school safety and beautification projects while he and I were at Montera Middle School in Oakland, California. At that time he was the Principal and I was the Chairperson for Emergency Preparedness and VP of Facilities on the PTO board. Together we achieved many improvements that still remain in place to this day. I consider these to be testaments to the validity of our common goals. Those being both the safety of the students and the quality of the school campus environment.
Just to give you a brief background on myself I have been involved in emergency preparedness with schools for many years. I feel it is a need that is for the most part left unattended. I am certified by the State of California as an Emergency Management Specialist and I have managed the Community Emergency Response Program for the Oakland Fire Department which is responsible for a population of 400,000 people. While that program encompasses a variety of avenues, the schools were always my personal preference. When my daughter first started at Montera I was a bit apprehensive of the school . This stemming from the fact that my daughter was coming from a private school and entering a public one . There were no specific reasons attributed to this. It was just a different environment. I will be the first to admit almost immediately, Mr. Mesfun reassured me that I had made the right choice. Not by his words , but by his actions. To give you an example of what I mean, I was on campus the first week of school and I happened to observe him during a lunch period sitting and talking with the students for most of the duration of that period. I had never seen a principal do that before. I have been around many schools in the past where the principal had no visible presence for the entire day. I also noticed as the days passed when I was there that Mr. Mesfun had an easy rapport with the students. He really does care about each individual student.
When I offered to oversee Montera’s emergency preparedness. I can say that right from the very beginning Mr. Mesfun was both supportive and accommodating. We met and discussed what we both had as expectations and as things would go we were both on the same page with student safety being the main focus. He was always willing to listen to my recommendations and place his trust in my actions. From granting me permission to move forward with an idea, to supporting each other at the PTO board meetings with the other members as well as the regular PTO meetings with the school community, to enlisting the aid of the faculty and staff in a support role for a variety of projects. I will honestly say that if it were not for Russom Mesfun I would not have been able to implement the majority of the items that I / we put in place. Here are some examples of his supportive efforts as they pertained to my roles When I reviewed the existing emergency supplies I found most of them were expired. After I acquired funding through the PTO for the updating of those supplies, Mr. Mesfun did not intervene but rather he allowed me to formulate an inventory list and purchase them. On another occasion I suggested we secure another storage container to house additional supplies. He was in favor of that and as a result I secured a second one. On another occasion I approached him and asked if we could schedule a series of disaster preparedness training classes for the teachers and staff. He assisted in that process by making it a mandatory training for all faculty members It became an annual event. When the Oakland Fire Department was searching for a venue to hold their Annual Citywide Emergency Drill debriefing session I approached Mr. Mesfun and he graciously offered the school as a host site.
While my primary focus was on student safety as VP of facilities I was tasked with other projects that yield themselves more along the lines of campus improvements. Projects such as campus beautification , decorative landscaping, benches for the students to use during lunch and break periods. Displaying school banners and art around the campus buildings. Installing a safety “cage” around an exposed gas valve setup. I had suggested we set up a PTO board room where the PTO could hold meetings and store any board related items. Mr. Mesfun was in full support of the idea and secured a storage room which we converted for that purpose. The largest project we worked on together was the acquisition and installation of a campus video surveillance system. He was involved in the planning process as well as the installation portion of it which involved an ongoing collaboration with the vendor. We established a teachers lounge adjacent to the main kitchen area. He supported another parent who established a parent patrol to oversee various areas of the campus. We collaborated on a jacket design and as a result purchased team jackets which served as both a determent and patrol identifier for the students.
As I was on site on a regular basis I was able to see Mr.Mesfun in all aspects of his role as a principal. Most of which did not relate to myself. When there was an issue between two students he always handled it in a fair and professional manner. Some principals would just go to extreme measures such as the use of suspensions to attempt to set an example. Mr.Mesfun would prefer to meet with the parents of both students in an effort to resolve the matter in a more amiable way . While I did mention this previously I would like to reiterate the fact that he genuinely cares about his students and has a driving desire to help them in whatever their need is. On a daily basis he would be out in front of the school both before and after school to direct traffic away and act as a crossing guard to ensure the students were safe. He routinely sat in on classes and observed the teachers to ensure they were adhering to the curriculum
Although I have given numerous examples of ways Mr.Mesfun improved the quality of Montera Middle School, these are primarily related to the area I was involved in. He was equally supportive in every other aspect of the school as well whether it be academics, sports, or the surrounding community. As a result Montera Middle School was awarded the Distinguished School Award by the State of California in 2011.It is worth noting that it was the only middle school to receive the award that year. This brings me back to what I mentioned at the start. Because of the leadership of Russom Mesfun as Principal at Montera, my daughter not only had an easy transition as she entered into the school but over the course of her time there was able to flourish intellectually.
In closing I would like to state that during the course of the three years that I was involved with Montera I have always seen Russom Mesfun conduct himself in a professional manner regardless of the task at hand and he has always had the best interest of the students as his number one priority. I can honestly say the it has been a privilege to work with him and an honor to consider him a friend. If you would like additional information feel free to call me at 510-333-3650
Sincerely,
A Grateful Montera Parent
Jeff Morelli

 
Letters to the Editor
April 03, 2014

To the Editor:
Half Truths and Disinformation
Before I begin I need to make it clear, I am not speaking for the School Board or the District only as one Board Member of five.
Mr. Ashim and Mrs. Ashim, over the past few months have been writing in the Gazzette half truths and disinformation and have not been challenged. In his last diatribe this man is asking for an apology from me. In reality this man and that woman should be asking the Fillmore community for forgiveness. They have managed to recklessly damage the reputation of Mr. Mesfun the high school Principal, they have maligned the school board, they have distorted Dr. Nishino"s past and present record as a superintendent and they have brought embarrassment to the Fillmore Unified School District, shame on them! In his last letter to the editor, Mr. Ashim stated half truths about the board meeting which he was recording. This man accused me of not allowing his wife to address the Board. That fact is she had a request to address the Board and as acting President I was required to do so. There was never any attempt to deny her that opportunity. The mistake I made was to tell her not to make any speeches or comments, she could only ask questions to the Board.
When she began to ask her questions about the high school accreditation I stopped her and asked if she had put these questions to the Principal? Her reply was no. I told her that it would be more appropriate if she ran these questions to Mr. Mesfun before coming to the Board. In my estimation this woman was attempting to discredit Mr. Mesfun. At that moment Mr. Mefun asked to respond to this woman's questions. Part of his response was about a parent committee and his desire to ask parents to serve. At that moment Mrs. Wright, a high school parent spoke up that she had not been asked. That is when I asked her if she wanted to be asked. She said yes. So I told Mr. Mefun there you have a parent for your committee. If you read Mr. Ashim's version of what happened at the Board meeting , the reader would get half truths and a distorted version of what took place.
In past issues of the Gazzette this man and this woman have launched wholly unfounded inflammatory accusations, aimed at distorting Mr. Mefun's leadership of Fillmore High School. At best this woman has subjected Mr. Mesfun to character assassination or as some would say a "high tech lynching", shame on her! This woman has accused the Principal of showing a lack leadership when it comes to the accreditation process when in reality she failed Fillmore High School's Accreditation process six years ago. At that time she was a counselor and volunteered to lead the Accreditation Team. She accepted the position knowing there was another position of assistant principal available at the High School. When Mr. Wilbur, the principal, declined her request to be appointed assistant principal she also refused to continue as Accreditation Team leader. The High School, because of this woman's ego, was forced to ask for a one year delay on Accreditation. Lucky for the High School when they hired Ellen Green as Assistant Principal. She picked up the pieces left by this woman and wrote a report that gave the High School a six year Accreditation.
For some time this woman, Karim Ashim, has been referred as the "Gate Keeper", the counselor who decides which students will have the opportunity to take Advance Placement courses, Honors courses, College Prep courses or general courses. Many times this woman had denied students the opportunity to challenge themselves. Many times parents had to demand their high school student be given an opportunity to take the more demanding courses. Imagine the parents who allowed this woman to deprive their sons and daughters of a better education. This woman's belief was to graduate as many students as possible to keep the graduation rate high and the drop -out rate low. The excuse is some students do not have the skills to function in those higher level courses, but too often teachers want the best of the best in those higher level courses, in essence depriving opportunity, especially minority students and the advocate for those students should be the counselor. I have had parents speak to me about the "Gate Keeper" and their negative experiences and my response has always been do not give up! Unfortunately many Mexican parents rely on the integrity of the this women who on too many occassions has failed them.
I could go on and on about this woman and describe my own personal experiences when my children were in high school, maybe another day. I have no interest in a verbal battle with these two caricatures, but I will set the record straight. An apology no, unsolicited advise, it is time for the two of them to stay out of Fillmore, take your criticism to your home town of Thousand Oaks, make the best of your retirement and enjoy life!
Tony Prado
School Board Member

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To The Editor:
Re: Dr. G. Sanchez & Wonderfull Staff, C,M,M,M,and P.
It's always a pleasure to come in and see All..Weather it's for a pleasure visit or dental visit. You all have known me for a short time and I hope you know me as a person who is enjoying life.With that said..Dr.G.Sanchez and Wonderfull Staff, really knocked my sock,s off. Never in my old life have I been moved to shear happiness as I was by your thoughtfulness and kindness shown to me on that day, My Birthday. Words can't begin to express how your surprise set my day an spirits as one of the better days in my old life.I am humbled that you should hold me in such a place as to do this surprise for me. From the bottom of my old heart ,I can only say " Thank You All".Sincerely,
Raul M.Torres
El Dorado Estate.
Fillmore, Cal

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To The Editor:
In the last week I have seen the bridge over the Santa Clara River referred to as the “A” St. Bridge (the article regarding the dog attack and shooting) and the Grimes Canyon Bridge (article on the fire). Since 1909 that bridge has been known as the Bardsdale Bridge. Those of us who live in Bardsdale and cross it sometimes multiple times in a day would like to see it referred to by its correct name in the future.
Sincerely,
Martha Gentry
Bardsdale Resident

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To the Editor:
Fillmore High School Sports Hall-of-Fame would like to express our gratitude to the people and businesses that helped make this year’s golf tournament a success. Our corporate sponsors, Harrison Industries, Lexicon, Wm. L. Morris and Kevin Gross. Our tee sponsors Matt & Corina Mozley, Fillmore High School Alumni Association, Fillmore-Piru Citrus, Curnett Investigations, Steve Dann, Fillmore Rentals, City National Bank, CTP Solutions, Laird’s Butcher Shop, Cookie Lee Jewelry (Ari Larson) and Edmonds Ranch. Those that donated raffle prizes, Mike Marostica, El Pescador, Kevin Gross, Starbucks, Carl’s Jr., Elkins Ranch Golf Course, Attractions Spa, Lexicon, Jiffy Lube and Fillmore High School Pep Squad. Lastly to the business/individuals that sponsored players and/or teams, Elkins Ranch Golf Course, First Baptist Church, Bob’s Radiator & Repair, Inc., Vest Electric, Ace Pump and Quality Ag.
Fillmore High School Sports Hall-of-Fame Board Members

 
Letters to the Editor
March 27, 2014

To the Editor:
School Board member Tony Prado owes a public apology to Mrs. Sherri Wright and Mrs. Karen Ashim, my wife, for the treatment they received at the November 18th board meeting. Neither of these ladies has anything to personally gain from attending these meetings and speaking up. They do these things out of a sense of obligation to the public and teachers, staff and students at Fillmore High School.
Mrs. Wright was publicly bullied by Mr. Prado into volunteering to join the WASC team. When the subject of parent involvement in the WASC process came up, Mrs. Wright was singled out. Mr. Prado loudly proclaimed, “Do you wanna be asked?” Her response was cutoff with him saying, “I'm asking you, do you wanna be asked?” She had no real option except to say yes. She is an active participant in school activities and likely would willingly participate in the WASC process if properly asked. But the invitation should be made in private, with a full explanation of what is expected, so she could carefully consider whether or not she could fulfill the duties required.
Mr. Prado ignored the Brown Act when he did not call on Mrs. Ashim to speak according the FUSD procedures. Additionally, she was badgered by Mr. Prado at the beginning of her comments about the WASC report. She was told she could only ask questions and not make comments. In fact his statement was another violation of the Brown Act. As she began to speak, he asked why no teachers were speaking up. She politely stated they are scared of retribution and tried to continue. He continued questioning why teachers are afraid. She politely reminded him of his admonition of no comments and continued with her questions. I heard none of the school board members present make an attempt to stop the badgering.
Mr. Prado is no stranger to violations of the Brown Act. In 2010, as President of the School Board he received a four page letter from the Ventura County District Attorney outlining several violations that occurred under his watch and ordering corrections of the board procedures. As a board member for several years it is astounding that Mr. Prado continues to violate the rights of concerned members of the FUSD community.
Larry Ashim

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To the Editor:
Chevron Superfund update chapter two.
Well Fillmore this is a very bias update by Kathy on last month’s Chevron meeting. A Chevron representative gave a very nice long update on the time line and a power point on the groundwater and soil remediation of the Chevron superfund site. It was announced that the specific plan has been submitted to the City. Now they will continue to grade and work on drainage and the technical analysis is being worked on. There was a short discussion on various alternatives that may be looked into later and who owns the land. Later Chevron will install air sparging to which they stated “will not emit odor to nearby neighbors” let’s hope this is true.
A question came up about water going into the Pole Creek and we were told that the newly installed liner would not allow that to happen. What they did not plan on was the 2 days of heavy rain last month which dumped all the water that did not go through the liner but ran its natural path over their sand bags and silt fences and drained directly into the creek down by the rail road crossing. Yes, I do have pictures of this happening. Many questions were asked during the Q&A period of the meeting. Some of them were about cancers, not wanting any buildings, San Cayetano fault line, sealed manhole on Laurel Lane, plumes and what have residents been exposed to.
These meetings are to help the residents see why the Chevron project should go forward. I still feel that this project will not benefit our town but will lead to more empty buildings and lots around our town that we already have. I had a question that I recently asked a Chevron representative regarding statements that they have made at numerous meetings on how their project will not compete with what we currently have down town. I have explained that some of what they are proposing may kill our down town area. I looked over their Fillmore Works A Vision for the Future brochure and on page 2 it states “area along 126 and just north of the existing railroad tracks is anticipated for commercial uses such as restaurants, offices and retail shops”. Is this not what we have down town? I was given a nice email about how it would not be walk –in –trade like our current down town is. Does this just sound funny to me? I do not know how you have a restaurant that is not walk –in or a retail shop? If any one can explain this to me please let me know.
Oh, I finally heard at the meeting from one person who thinks this is a good idea for our town who I do not belive is working for Chevron or the City.
So if you would like to get more information for yourself I invite you to come on down this Thursday March 27, 2014 at 6p.m. @ the senior center to hear all the new info being given. This month I have been told we will have an EPA represenitve talking. The last 30 minutes of the meeting is for the public to ask questions or make comments.
Hope to see you there,
Kathy Pace

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To the Editor:
Parents/Coaches/Fillmore community:
Here is our link to the website, we changed it and enhanced the overall site. Tomorrow is our sign ups 12-2 341 Central Ave. Hopefully we can get that second football team the Gremlins (6 & 7) or Seniors (13 & 14) Hopefully by next week we can get some t shirts out and sell them with the proceeds going to the boys and girls!!!
http://www.socalfillmorebears.com/contact.html
Thank you,
Ram Medina
President/Head Coach SoCal Fillmore Bears
Head Coach JV Saint Bonaventure HS

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To the Editor:
My grandparents owned a boarding house in Fillmore during the 1920’s. The education offered to my father in Fillmore was almost identical to the education I received in a similar pioneer-town in the 1960’s. My daughters’ education began to be far more technical and world oriented than I experienced. Change from a local economy to a world community demands that we ensure all students are challenged and that all teachers are dedicated to continuous improvement.
I first heard about Russom Mesfun several months before I was hired by the Morgan Hill Unified School District to be the principal of Martin Murphy Middle School from 2006-2011. Community members were praising the changes occurring at Brittan Middle School and the positive climate on campus. Mr. Mesfun greeted staff, students, and parents as they entered campus each morning. He was highly visible throughout the day interacting with students and staff which was instrumental in ensuring a safe campus. He moved the English Language Learners from an isolated location on the campus to a center classroom to encourage their participation at school. He implemented the “best practices” for language learners, including how they were assigned into main stream classes. I remember thinking how much I would enjoy working with such a consummate professional. When I assumed my new assignment, we formed one of the most satisfying and dynamic collaborations I have experienced in my career.
Mr. Mesfun and I met regularly on our own time to address the needs of our two middle schools. Morgan Hill is a rural community that is growing into a suburb of the tenth largest city in the United States. Middle school students were not ensured equal opportunities between the two schools, and higher salaries in our surrounding districts regularly drained our professional talent. Mr. Mesfun and I collaborated with our district leadership to ensure our staffs received the finest professional development. We encouraged our staffs to engage all of the students through systematic review of student achievement, knowledge of students’ learning strengths and needs, attention to English language learning, special education and expanded services for high performing students including adding geometry to the middle school curriculum. Our state scores improved but more importantly, the value of the educational services we offered improved. Even local real estate agents communicated the value of our school district to buyers, and housing values increased over surrounding communities.
I understand that in any organization some individuals are concerned when professional expectations are consistent and are raised from past practices that seemed adequate at some point in time. At Britton Middle School, it was important to halt the practice of the teacher who was walking a classroom rabbit during class time, leaving the class unattended and untaught. It was important to require teachers to observe the computer agreement and to not build private business enterprises, or to access dating sites during classroom time. It was important that every classroom have a highly qualified teacher to present state adopted curriculum in a safe and encouraging setting. The former status quo at the school was well known by the students and by many in the community, but they felt powerless to address the issues stated above. Students, parents and staff that longed for a high performing school found an advocate in Mr. Mesfun. He addressed the barriers de-railing their education and ensured that policies and daily practice recognized the value of all students, regardless of race or economic status.
As principals, we are open to whatever statements individuals want to make to the public. We are legally unable to respond or explain our decision making process in a manner that would assist the public in evaluating the criticism we may receive, especially when the criticism centers on issues other than student achievement. We instead focus our energy to what is essential: the equal, and increasingly challenging, education of our young people so that they are equipped for a democratic process in a world-wide market. I was honored as Mr. Mesfun consistently remained in contact with me after he left Morgan Hill Unified School District. We shared what was working to improve student achievement. Mr. Mesfun’s schools consistently improved their academic achievements, including winning the honored Distinguished School award at his Oakland, California middle school location.
Fillmore High School is fortunate to have a principal dedicated to all students, supportive to all of his staff, certificated and classified, and tirelessly expands parent participation. He is a leader that consistently leads by example, never asking his staff to do anything that he is not already demanding of himself.
Barbara L. Nakasone, Ed.D.
Retired principal
California Middle Schools

 
Letters to the Editor
March 20, 2014

To the Editor:
I would like to thank the members of the Soroptimist International of Fillmore for their generous donation of $100 to help with this year Arts Show. The donation will go towards the expenses of putting on this years’ event “Euphoria” scheduled for Thursday April 10th at the Memorial Building.
On behalf of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Fillmore High School, thank you!
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Fillmore High School
Visual Arts Dept.
"ars longa, vita brevis"

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To the Editor:
Fillmore Athletic Booster Club would like to express our gratitude to the people and businesses that helped make this year’s casino night a success. Piru Petroleum Club has been a continuous supporter of our events, and once again donated the use of their facility. Our casino table sponsors for the evening were as follows: Emerson Glaser, Somers Ranches, Tom Murphy Pump & Well Service, Dave Wright, David & Susan Dollar, Super Seal & Stripe, Rancho Temescal, Bobby McLain Construction, Cemex, Bob’s Radiator Shop, Doby Hagar Trucking, FHS Alumni Association, Scott & Laura Beylik, Baker Hughes, Ventura County Sheriffs Association, and Excalibur.
The donations we received, either in raffle prizes or volunteering time, helped ensure another successful year. A very sincere thank you to the following people and businesses:
Max & Michelle Pina, Santa Paula Fitness, Ari Larson, Tlaquepaque, Sespe Creek Organics, Mission Avocados, Soule Park, Twenty 88, Love 2 Dance, Shelley & Ray Huerta, Avery & Tracy Stewart, Julie Medina, Ana Duran, FHS Alumni Association, FitQuest, Elkins Ranch, Estrella Market, Megan & Matt VanWhy, Lani Farr, April Hastings, Fit & Fine Fitness, Design Duo, Oasis Tanning, Matt Suttle, Matt Dollar, James Cummings, Eddie Ortiz, Manual Ponce, FHS Cheer, FHS Athletic Department, Annette Cardona and Super A Foods.
Thank you to our dealers who graciously volunteered their time: RJ Stump, Bob Gradias, Tim Gurrola, Joe Aguirre, Jason Rangel, Amy Rangel, Laura Beylik, Nettie Farrar, Bill Herrera, and Charlie Hawk. Thank you to Jason Castro who donated his DJ talent and our bartenders Juan Ardon and Cesar Acosta. Thank you to the FHS coaches and athletes who worked hard selling tickets, and to our parents and community members who supported our event!
Congratulations to the winner of the iPad - Gil Escoto, and winner of the TV- Carlos Pacheco!
Fillmore Athletic Booster Club Board Members

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To the Editor:
All of you have the opportunity to make a change. For you to sit back and put this on teachers and parents is a copout. Teachers and parents were not involved in the hiring. You were. And you played a large part in it. It's time for you to fix it! Not the teachers. Not the parents. You. The school board.
I can only assume that if you do nothing then that is an endorsement of Mr. Mesfun. I understand that there are old connections between the administration but this is a turning point that needs to be addressed.
Behavior displayed by Mr. Mesfun that is clearly spelled out in the lawsuit can not be tolerated. Do you all think he has changed?
Have you heard things? You have. And so have parents. And some have experienced things.
Letting him stay will not make this go away. And look what the result was. Behave in a manner that was highly inappropriate and cause a lawsuit and judgment for a school district to pay out and get hooked up with a principal job in Fillmore. Where is the motivation to change? He is being protected by the superintendent and by all of you if you choose to do nothing. Do you really want to be responsible for the next lawsuit? Do you care enough? Or will you sit there and hope it goes away?
We are looking to the board to step up. Someone to take the lead and stand up and do what is right.
I understand there is no prestige or thanks for doing the job. But if that is why you are there then you need to move on. You ran for it and were voted in by us. We expect you to do the right thing for the students. And you all know what that is. Take care of this before it is too late.
Thank you,
Darren Galarza

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To the Editor:
In April of 2004, I was part of an interview panel looking for a principal for our middle school. Although there were candidates that were qualified, one in particular stood out above all others and that person was Russom Mesfun. Aside from his outstanding qualifications in education, experience, and background, I knew right away that he cared deeply and passionately about his students as he related a story about how he takes the time to ask the students questions about how they are, what they did over the weekend, or if they’d eaten breakfast that morning. The energy he exuded and his enthusiasm and love of his students, proved to me that he was the best candidate for the position.
I soon learned that providing the students with the best education possible and in an environment in which they feel safe were going to be his highest priorities. Mr. Mesfun not only talked the talk, but he walked the walk. Each day, before and after school he was outside greeting the students and waving at the parents. He made sure his campus was safe and that all students and parents felt welcomed. Mr. Mesfun treated each student with respect and celebrated their achievements very enthusiastically as if they were his very own children.
Mr. Mesfun does not tolerate bullying of any kind. If a student was scared, they would go directly to him and he would provide them with assurance and guidance and he would handle the situation immediately even if it meant working long in to the night. The students felt safe having Mr. Mesfun around. He was very approachable, friendly, and would often times join in and play soccer and basketball with them.
Mr. Mesfun enjoyed attending school-related events and he did this with great enthusiasm. While on vacation with his wife and mother in Europe, he traveled by train two hours to watch our school band play in a concert. All this before he began his position at our school.
In addition, Mr. Mesfun enjoyed celebrating his staff’s accomplishments and would often write about it in his monthly newsletter giving kudos and appreciation to staff members. As the person working closely with Mr. Mesfun, he made sure that I had food available to feed the staff at his weekly and monthly meetings. He would often say, “Let’s feed them; they’ve had a long day.” The genuine care and concern that he has for his staff and students is quite commendable.
Although I only had the opportunity to work with him for two years, I learned a lot about this man. He is driven to do the very best he can to make sure that his students receive an excellent education. He’s a man that sees no-color – we are all equal. He holds high expectations of his students and staff members alike. He wants us all to do our best leaving nothing to chance. He is focused and his vision involving education is clear and unadulterated. He is a man of his word and can be your biggest supporter. I am a firm believer in this man who is now referred to as Dr. Russom Mesfun. My former principal… my friend for life.
Christy Thompson
Administrative Secretary
Britton Middle School

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To the Editor:
Russom Mesfun worked as my principal at Britton Middle School for 2 years. Little did I know we would quickly become kindred spirits because of our educational beliefs and values.
When I first saw Russom I couldn't believe the district would even hire a Black man! In a very short time, I would be awe struck that such a "status quo," "business as usual" district would even let him in the front door! You see, Morgan Hill Unified is conservative by nature, plays to the more affluent Anglo community mind-set, and pretty much has ignored the needs of its growing Latino population. Time for change was long overdue, and Russom wasted little time in setting certain things in order.
Russom's priorities for equity and expecting high standards for students and from teachers alike was the first big wave to stir the waters.
The school lay-out was the first ripple effect to take place. Russom moved the English Language Learner (ELL) portable classroom from the outskirts of mainstream classrooms, to the center of where all the other students carried out their school day. No more isolation, no more second class status for our Latino students. For goodness sakes, these students comprised close to 50% of the total school population! Russom wanted them to feel part of the school they attended. Not only that, he made sure teachers knew who they were teaching. He required every teacher to keep a binder on their desk that highlighted ELL student names in each class period, their respective classification level (1 through 5), and the appropriate ELL standard necessary to teach at their level of English acquisition. Teachers were aghast. This was unheard of and not well received by staff members. Feelings of resentment and animosity were secretly shared in the lunch room. This ugliness was unmasked when there was huge resistance to teaching and accepting English Language Learners in core curriculum classes. You may ask, how do I know all of this? I was the counselor at Britton who gladly followed Russom's directive to place ELL students equitably in classrooms to have equal access to core curriculum.
Russom's "stirring of the waters" went even further. He was very visible at ELAC (English Language Advisory Committee) meetings. Every time the parents of ELL students met Russom would be there to welcome them and delight them with his limited Spanish speaking skills. Russom initiated the first District ELL Redesignation Ceremony. The school superintendent attended. The parents had never received such favor from any school. This ceremony has become a tradition at each school site in the district since its inception by Russom.
I could go on about how Russom met with Latino students at lunch time and provided pizza so he could hear their opinion of how things worked for them at school. I could tell you how soccer games became a regular lunch and after school activity once Russom was principal. I could state in different ways that Russom was a champion of our minority students and their families. But I have already done that, haven't I? His vision for the marginal student was actualized while he was principal and is still carried on today. I am very proud to have had the opportunity to have worked with Mr. Mesfun. He still calls me periodically to see how things are going at his "old school." I am able to give him good reports.
Dr. Elena Hernandez
Retired Counselor of 38 years
Morgan Hill Unified School District

 
Letters to the Editor
March 13, 2014

To the Editor:
There have been several disturbing issues with the administration at Fillmore High School over the last couple years. Many people have contacted board members & felt that significant problems have not been sufficiently addressed, if addressed at all, let alone corrected. We have a wonderful community here in Fillmore & we want to back up our children & their rights to a good education & a safe & growing learning environment. We have some incredible staff at all of our FUSD school sites, yet some major issues go seemingly untouched. We need your help. Please get involved.
If you have any issues in our Fillmore Unified School District & you would like to share with others who want to stand up for what is right, please email your thoughts or concerns to: WeCareMatters@yahoo.com
Thank you.
WE CARE
~Bringing parents & community members together
in pursuit & support of the best education in our FUSD schools.
www.facebook.com/wecarecommunitynetworkfusd

 
Letters to the Editor
February 27, 2014

To the Editor:
Dear Editor and community,
I wanted to give you a little run down on the meeting last week that was held by the One Step Group. It was a great turnout and it was so good to see so many new faces becoming involved in this superfund site issue. We had people from a few newspapers, a few lawyers and representatives from a Congress Woman’s and a Senator’s offices, too bad no one from our own City Council or Planning Department were able to attend. It was a good opportunity for the community to get some questions answered and give feed back to Chevron and the EPA. Many of the near by neighbors oppose the project, which will involve developing the area for light industrial and business park, because of potential contaminated soil once again being disturbed and the unnecessary building of the site. I asked Chevron who they talked to, other than City officials, who gave them the indication that developing this site would be a good idea for our town. The answer was that they only talked with City officials. So Chevron did not communicate at all with the citizens to find their opinion on this project. They just came into our town and decided that this would be good idea whether we want it or not. Once again they are demonstrating that they are “not a good neighbor”. The EPA sent a representative who came with no information and would be reporting concerns to her higher ups. Not much help there. I asked if Chevron has a plan B if there plans are not approved, they do not. Why not? I propose that they finish the drainage required by the County, finish the instillation of the air sparging system to get the benzene out and then replant trees, native plants, install a fence around it and LEAVE. Chevron has left it abandoned for many years, so why the need to develop it now? Many people have told me that they feel that Chevron is just trying to build something on top of it to cover it up. I will be at the Re-development meetings to listen to Chevron try to prove to others why this is a good idea for our town. I am there to listen and give my in put as to why it is not best for our town. Please come voice your opinions during the public discussion time this Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 6 pm at the Fillmore Senior Center.
Thank you again,
Kathy Pace

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To the Editor:
I would like to thank the members of the Lions Club of Fillmore for their generous donation of $250 to help with this year Arts Show. I would also like to thank the members of the Fillmore Womens Service Club for their generous donation of $200. The donations will go towards the expenses of putting on this years’ event “Euphoria” scheduled for Thursday April 10th at the Memorial Building.
On behalf of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Fillmore High School, thank you!
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Fillmore High School

 
Letters to the Editor
February 20, 2014

To the Editor:
I write to you about the Fillmore High School Site Council for two reasons. First, having served on the SSC for 10 years, I am very familiar with how it should and has been conducted. Second, and most importantly, I speak because teachers and now parents fear retribution from the school administration if they speak out.
Under the current principal, Mr. Mesfun, the School Site Council is, like the other parts of the school, being mismanaged in many ways.
California Education Code Section 52850-52863 mandates that schools which receive state and federal funding must have a School Site Council (SSC). It is designed to ensure well over $200,000 are used to support school improvement.
The principal of each school must be the leader and conduit of information between the staff and various groups. But the current principal fulfills neither of these roles. Unlike five previous principals, Mesfun leaves meetings early and does not share information.
In January Mesfun agreed to inform teachers about the available funds. He never did, although, at the February meeting he implied the teachers had been informed. No teacher has heard anything about these available funds from Mesfun; no email was ever sent.
It does not matter whether this was intentional or an overlooked event that Mesfun did not inform the teachers. The principal must be dependable enough to follow through and do what he says he will. This is just another example lack of leadership and lack of trust. But the most egregious thing is that he misled the members of the School Site Council.
Mr. Mesfun’s treatment and disregard for the School Site Council and its members is poor, but it is far better than he treats the teachers and staff at Fillmore High School.
Sincerely,
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor Fillmore High School
MS Counseling & Guidance
MA School Administration