Fillmore Unified School District
Fillmore Unified School District

Nine teachers from Piru Elementary School, working with their former principal Richard Durborow, mailed a charter school petition last week to Fillmore Unified School District (FUSD) Superintendent Jeff Sweeney and Board Members beginning the process to obtain charter status for Piru Elementary School. Piru Charter School (PCS) plans to open their doors beginning in the 2010-2011 school year. The charter petition is a result of collaboration which began last spring during a District reorganization planning process, and which continued despite the efforts of the FUSD administration to halt it.

District Superintendent Jeff Sweeney released this statement to the Gazette: “The District first became aware last year that a small group of Piru staff and parents was interested in pursuing a charter due to concerns being raised by staff who were not in favor of the potential charter. By the end of the school year, these growing concerns divided the staff and was becoming a disruption to the school. Consequently, I directed interested staff not to work on the charter during school hours, but rather on their own time. The Fillmore Unified School District received a petition for a charter conversion on September 16, 2009, without the consensus or knowledge of the whole staff. That was the first official notice that a charter was being considered. No decision on the charter has been reached. A public hearing will be held on October 21 at 6:00 p.m. to review the application. The District will consider the application according to Board policy.”
Following are questions submitted be the Gazette and facts regarding the proposed Charter School supplied by Piru teachers Richard Durborow, Susan Jolley, and Chris Pavic.

Did you apply for Charter status last spring? CONTINUED »

 
City Council and School Board Members in joint session.
City Council and School Board Members in joint session.
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Mary Ford addressed the School Board and City Council.
Mary Ford addressed the School Board and City Council.
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John Scoles spoke about use of the track.
John Scoles spoke about use of the track.
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The Fillmore City Council and Unified School District board have decided to set up a pilot program for use of the new high school track by the general public.

The mechanics of how the use will be managed has yet to be determined. A local adult running club presented arguments to the meeting on why they should be allowed access to the track. Both the city and the school district are concerned about liability issues. School Board member Liz Wilde said the city should be taking the lead in this issue but the students should have priority in using the track. School trustee Tony Prado stated that adults need to use the track in the evening. District Superintendent Jeff Sweeney said, “The safety of our students is a priority. Students use the track until 8 or 9 p.m. We are concerned about students mixing with the adult community.”

Both groups discussed charging a $25 signup fee for people wanting to use the track. Deputy City Manager Bill Bartels said CONTINUED »

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

09/02/09-09/08/09
SEARCH WARRANT
09/02/09
500 Block Main Street
700 Block Third Street
200 Block Sespe Avenue
100 Block Bridlewood Lane
500 Block Saratoga Avenue
09/03/09
500 Block A Street
09/04/09
200 Block Third Street
09/07/09
900 Block Wileman St.
09/08/09
800 Block Edison Way
SHOTS FIRED
09/06/09
Central Ave. / Foothill Dr.
THEFT-IDENTITY CONTINUED »

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

Date & Time: September 29, 2009 4:00 PM
Unit Responsible: Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services

At 10:48 AM on September 29th, an earthquake with preliminary magnitude 8.0 occurred in the Samoa Islands region.

A Tsunami Advisory is in effect which includes the coastal areas of California and Oregon from the California-Mexico border to the Oregon-Washington border.

A Tsunami Advisory means that a tsunami capable of producing strong currents or waves dangerous to persons in or very near the water is imminent or expected. Significant, widespread inundation is not expected for areas under an advisory. Currents may be hazardous to swimmers, boats, and coastal structures and may continue for several hours after the initial wave arrival.

According to the National Weather Service, Ventura County can expect a minor wave up to one foot. The arrival time in Santa Barbara is expected at 9:03 p.m. this evening. The arrival time in Santa Monica is expected at 9:11 p.m.

For updated information, please visit the County of Ventura website and click on the Disaster Information page (www.countyofventura.org/disasterinformation).

 

Final Fire Information:
Acres Burned: 17,500 acres
Containment 17,500 acres - 100% contained
Structures Destroyed: 1 outbuilding destroyed
Injuries: 10
Cause: Under Investigation
Cooperating Agencies: Ventura County Fire Department, CAL FIRE, USFS, Ventura County Sheriff, CHP, Ventura County Animal Control, CalEMA, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, CCC, BLM, City of Moorpark, Southern California Gas, Southern California Edison and Red Cross.
Total Fire Personnel: 1,168 (977 CAL FIRE)
Engines: 70 (60 CAL FIRE)
Fire crews: 28 (25 CAL FIRE)
Dozers: 6 (4 CAL FIRE)
Water tenders: 15
Costs to date: $9.8 million
Major Incident Command Team: CAL FIRE Team 10 is in unified command with Ventura County Fire
Conditions: Firefighers continue to construct containment line, mop-up and monitor for any fire activity.
Phone Number: (805) 388-4276 (Guiberson Fire Information)

Fire video from this week


Raw Footage of the Fillmore (Guiberson) Fire taken between 4:30-5:00 p.m. on South Mountain Road near the Bardsdale Cemetery, Fillmore, CA.

Footage submitted by Alissa Thompson who filmed this helicopter refueling near her house at approximately 12:45 p.m. 09-23-09. If you have pictures or video of the fire, please email us at info@fillmoregazette.com

Raw Footage of the Fillmore (Guiberson) Fire taken between 7:00-7:30 p.m. in Bardsdale near Fillmore, CA.

Raw Footage of the Fillmore (Guiberson) Fire taken between 4:30-5:00 p.m. at Elkins Golf Course, Fillmore, CA.
 
 

Fillmore resident Shawn Philip Burson, 18 years old, is now serving in the United States Army at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Shawn enlisted in the United States Army on October 16, 2008 for a five year tour. He plans to make the Army a career he estimates to span 25-30 years.

Fort Gordon is located near Augusta, Georgia and is the home of the United States Army Signal Center of Excellence. The United States Army Signal Center of Excellence provides world class Soldiers and Leaders; trains, educates, and develops adaptive Leaders Information Technology professionals; and plans, synchronizes, experiments, and implements Future Network capabilities.

Shawn Philip Burson is the son of William and Sharyn Burson of Fillmore. His sister is Jessica Burson, 16 years of Fillmore. Both Shawn and Jessica were home schooled their entire elementary and high school years until they entered Ventura Community College. Shawn received his high school diploma when he graduated from Ventura Community College at age 17 with is Associate of Arts Degree in General Studies. Jessica will receive her high school diploma at age 16, in the Spring, when she will graduate from from Ventura Community College with an Associate of Arts Degree. Shawn's (maternal grandmother) was the late Eleanor H. Levine and his CONTINUED »

 
City of Fillmore
City of Fillmore

A Petition for Writ of Mandate, Injunction, and Declaratory Relief for violations of the Ralph M. Brown Act has been filed on behalf of the citizens of Fillmore by Petitioner Richard P. McKee, an individual.

The petition alleges an e-mail sent to Councilman Steve Conaway by Mayor Patti Walker, August 25 of 2009, “revealed a Brown Act violation by a majority of the City Council through a serial meeting arranged and facilitated by Interim City Manager Larry Pennell.”

At the regular council meeting, August 25, Mayor Walker announced that a closed session (not on the agenda) would be held concerning a Brown Act violation charged in an August 25, letter from Councilman Conaway to City Clerk, Clay Westling. The alleged violation concerned a serial meeting between three council members, which was arranged by Interim City Manager, Larry Pennell. Pennell sought, and obtained, concurrence of thought from a majority of the city council. In his letter Conaway stated that “As a council member, I expect that the City Manager will conduct business fairly, openly and with the highest ethics. Sadly, Mr. Pennell’s actions resulted in implicating three of my council members in this Brown Act violation.”

Conaway continued: “As a result of the serial meeting, the trust installed upon Fillmore officials will b e diminished. When this issue came to my attention I urged Mayor Walker to CONTINUED »

 
Interim City Manager Larry Pennell could not answer Councilman Conaway’s question about why the agreed procedure for finding a new auditing company for the city was not followed. Pennell brought-in a new firm without giving other firms a chance to bid the job. There will be no savings for the city with this new ad-hoc agreement. In fact, while $34,000 was budgeted for the audit, under the new auditing firm the cost to the city will be almost $41,000. $7,000 could have been saved by keeping the previous firm which had done a commendable job for many years.
Interim City Manager Larry Pennell could not answer Councilman Conaway’s question about why the agreed procedure for finding a new auditing company for the city was not followed. Pennell brought-in a new firm without giving other firms a chance to bid the job. There will be no savings for the city with this new ad-hoc agreement. In fact, while $34,000 was budgeted for the audit, under the new auditing firm the cost to the city will be almost $41,000. $7,000 could have been saved by keeping the previous firm which had done a commendable job for many years.
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City of Fillmore
City of Fillmore

Mayor Patti Walker, two city council members Jamey Brooks and Mayor Pro-tem Gayle Washburn with Fillmore City Attorney Theodore Schneider, reviewed the council’s action resulting in the Brown Act violation debate in a closed-door session Tuesday night, September 22, 2009.
Before Mayor Walker and council members retreated to an undisclosed location in City Hall, Schneider asked that Councilmember Steve Conaway recues himself. Conaway complied with the request. Councilmember Laurie Hernandez was absent.
Returning to regular session, Mayor Walker disclosed the findings of the council members.
“The unintentional alleged Brown Act violation was of no consequence,” stated Mayor Walker, “because it did not result in any action taken by this council.”
Schneider concurred with, “All allegations by Mr. McKee have been satisfied.”
Richard McKee, President of California’s Aware, a political watchdog group, had proposed that the City Council had violated the Brown Act in August when reviewing credentials of candidates for employment.
Audit Controversy
State audit reports for the city of Fillmore are due in October and December announced City Manager, Larry Pennell. Gathering information for the reports begins in July of every (fiscal) year. Due to the retirement of former Finance Director Barbara Smith, the city of Fillmore has been without a permanent finance director since June, commented Washburn. Leonore Young has been serving as Interim Finance Director.
Pennell advised that the auditing firm of Rogers, Anderson, Malody, & Scott from Riverside County be hired to begin the process as soon as possible. Since June 2009, only one Request for Proposal (RFP) bid was sent out; that was to Rogers, Anderson, Malody & Scott.
With a recommendation from Lea Phillips of the Ventura Regional Sanitation District, Pennell invited a company representative to address the council.
Terry Shea, a CPA for the firm stated that he’d design programs to do the audits for 2008-2009. When Washburn asked, “Is there any flexibility in your pricing?” CONTINUED »

 

Nine teachers from Piru Elementary School, working with their former principal Richard Durborow, mailed a charter school petition this week to Fillmore Unified School District (FUSD) Superintendent Jeff Sweeney and Board Members beginning the process to obtain charter status for Piru Elementary School. Piru Charter School (PCS) plans to open their doors beginning in the 2010-2011 school year. The charter petition is a result of collaboration which began last spring during a District reorganization planning process, and which continued despite the efforts of the FUSD administration to halt it.

Charter schools are public schools that are responsive to students’ needs and are held accountable for improved student achievement. They are open to the public, are tuitionfree, participate in state tests, employ credentialed teachers to teach core subjects, and can offer innovative curriculum and teaching strategies designed to improve student learning. For more information on charter schools, visit the website of the California Charter Schools Association at - myschool.org.

Under current state law, and with the full support of Governor Schwarzenger and President Obama, public schools can be converted to charter status when the majority of the teaching staff file a charter petition addressing sixteen specific elements regarding school vision, CONTINUED »

 
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
California State Governor

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today proclaimed a state of emergency in Ventura County due to the Guiberson Fire that has burned over 6,000 acres, threatens hundreds of homes and other structures and has caused the mandatory evacuation of residents and opening of emergency shelters.

The text of the proclamation is below:

A PROCLAMATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY

WHEREAS on September 22, 2009, the “Guiberson Fire” started in Ventura County and continues to burn; and

WHEREAS the fire has already burned over 6,000 acres and is zero percent contained; and

WHEREAS the fire threatens hundreds of homes and other structures, causing the mandatory evacuation of residents and opening of emergency shelters; and

WHEREAS on September 22, 2009, I requested, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency granted, a Fire Management Assistance Grant for this fire; and

WHEREAS on September 22, 2009, Ventura County declared a local emergency and requested that I declare a state of emergency; and

WHEREAS the circumstances of this fire, by reason of its magnitude, are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of any single county, city and county, or city and require the combined forces of a mutual aid region or regions to combat; and

WHEREAS under the provisions of section 8558(b) of the California Government Code, I find that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist due to the fire in Ventura County.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, in accordance with the authority vested in me by the state Constitution and statutes, including the California Emergency Services Act, and in particular, section 8625 of the California Government Code, HEREBY PROCLAIM A STATE OF EMERGENCY to exist within Ventura County.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that all agencies of the state government utilize and employ state personnel, equipment and facilities for the performance of any and all activities consistent with the direction of my California Emergency Management Agency and the State Emergency Plan, and that the California Emergency Management Agency provide local government assistance under the authority of the California Disaster Assistance Act.

I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this proclamation be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given of this proclamation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 22nd day of September 2009.

______________________________________

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER

Governor of California

ATTEST:

_______________________________________

DEBRA BOWEN

Secretary of State

 
Friday, September 11 County fire department units were called to suppress a grass fire on east Guiberson Road. At least 11 units responded and the fire was extinguished that same day. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Friday, September 11 County fire department units were called to suppress a grass fire on east Guiberson Road. At least 11 units responded and the fire was extinguished that same day. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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Above community members and parents come together for banners to be hung on Central Avenue, Wednesday Sept. 9th.
Above community members and parents come together for banners to be hung on Central Avenue, Wednesday Sept. 9th.
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What a great tribute the “Military Banners Program” has become to the men and women of Fillmore currently serving in the military. The immensely popular Banners have now been placed on Central and Sespe Avenues and the available spaces have rapidly been filling with new Banners almost monthly. I, for one, almost daily go to town and rarely do I not take a trip by my son's Banner to acknowledge his service. I know of a few other parents and family that do the same with their loved ones Banner. I also make it a point to acknowledge the others as I travel past theirs and note that some of the young men and women have had Banners placed by their family, but have not had an article written about their service. Some of them I know and others I don't. I curiously wonder about what they do within their respective branches of the military, who their family are and maybe I wonder a little about this brave person who chose to serve all of us. If for some reason the family of those American Heroes and Fillmore/Piru son's and daughters felt it is to late to have an article put in the Fillmore Gazette, it isn't and I would be proud to gather the information and photograph and share their story with the rest of the community. My contact information runs weekly in the Fillmore Gazette.

On Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. five more banners were installed on Central Avenue as part of the “Military Banner Program” which now totals thirty-seven installed Banners. A small, but enthusiastic and proud group of family and friends watched as CONTINUED »

 
City of Fillmore
City of Fillmore

On August 31, 2009 Californians Aware, a non-profit political watchdog organization, sent a Demands for Cure or Correction to the City of Fillmore regarding a possible Brown Act violation. And according to Richard McKee, President of Californians Aware, with the presentation of the letter “…the clock will start ticking,” alluding to a possible “Brown Act lawsuit.”

The Demands stems from the August 25, 2009 Fillmore City Council meeting in which the council held an “emergency closed session” regarding an alleged violation of the Brown Act due to “spoke and hub” meetings, as reported in the Gazette’s August 27th edition.

The controversial session was held in response to a letter submitted by Councilman Steve Conaway to Fillmore City Clerk Clay Westling on August 25, 2009. The letter stated that he became aware, via email sent to him from Mayor Patti Walker, that a [different] Brown Act violation occurred involving three of his fellow CONTINUED »

 

Fillmore resident and 2007 Fillmore High School graduate, United States Marine Corps (USMC) Lance Corporal (L/CPL) Andrew Lochelt, 19 years old, has arrived in Okinawa, Japan at Camp Foster. Camp Foster will be his new duty station for next couple of years. L/CPL Andrew Lochelt grew up in Fillmore and attended San Cayetano and Sespe Elementary Schools, Fillmore Middle School, Fillmore High School (FHS) and Ventura College prior to entering the USMC in July 2008 for a four-year tour of duty.

L/CPL Andrew Lochelt was very active within the Fillmore Community while growing up; he played Fillmore “T” Ball, Fillmore Little League Baseball, Raiders' Youth Football and was on the Fillmore Swim Team. He also played the trumpet for the Fillmore Middle School and Fillmore High School Band. His skill with the CONTINUED »

 
Most of those attending Tuesday night’s school board meeting wore black in protest of the recent decision to reassign Evalene Townend to a newly created position. Townend is dealing with credible allegations of serious misconduct relating to communications with a teacher’s union official.
Most of those attending Tuesday night’s school board meeting wore black in protest of the recent decision to reassign Evalene Townend to a newly created position. Townend is dealing with credible allegations of serious misconduct relating to communications with a teacher’s union official.
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Almost all seats were filled at Tuesday nights’ meeting of the Fillmore Unified School District board, as a retired teacher addressed the controversy regarding the reassignment of Evalene Townsend.

Townsend was Assistant Superintendent of Human resources, and was recently reassigned to the position of Director of Student Support Services and Special Projects. In an email sent to the Fillmore Gazette, dated September 9, 2009, Superintendent Jeff Sweeney said Townsend had requested a reassignment due to personal reasons.

Mary Ford, who retired as a teacher in the district in 2003, read a list of questions to the board concerning the new position that was created in light of budget cuts. “I am concerned how this will affect the employees and the community,” said Ford.

She pointed out the large number of people in the audience who chose to wear black to show their solidarity in opposing the decision to appoint Townsend to the new position. “We are doing this to mourn the death of integrity,” Ford added. Some district employees, unhappy over how the Townsend issue was handled by the board, said they were fearful of speaking up in public over concern of reprisals.

For more information regarding this issue see:
Mary Ford's Letter to the Editor
School Controversy Continues

District Awards
Board President John Garnica presented awards to outstanding district employees.

San Caytano principal, Jan Marhorlin introduced two nominees for the team award. Because of their dedication to the school and student improvement Inger Overton and CONTINUED »

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

08/27/09-09/01/09
SEARCH WARRANT
08/31/09
100 Block Surrey Way
SHOTS FIRED
09/01/09
2nd St. / Central Ave.
HIT & RUN NON-INJURY
08/29/09
600 Block Central Ave.
08/31/09
700 Block Ventura St.
THEFT IDENTITY
08/27/09
900 Block First St.
THEFT OTHER
08/27/09
200 Block Central Ave. CONTINUED »

 

To the Editor:
I was astonished to learn about the reassignment of Evalene Townend, the former Assistant Superintendent of Personnel for the Fillmore Unified School District. Mrs. Townend apparently will occupy a newly formed position. The District office is already overstaffed and budget problems have necessitated the cutting of teachers and staff. As a former employee of the District, and as a taxpaying member of this community, I am concerned about how this will affect the employees and students of Fillmore and Piru. Our community has many questions that need to be answered:

1. What are the allegations? The understanding within the community is that there is proof of serious misconduct.

2. What kind of investigation has been done? We understand that the District has done an investigation. How thorough was this inquiry? What were the results? Are other District personnel implicated? If serious misconduct is indicated, reassignment to a new position is a reward for bad behavior. What is the Board’s position on that?

3. Has law enforcement been involved or even notified since this is possible criminal activity?

4. How can a new position be justified? What is the salary? What funding sources will be used? CONTINUED »

 

09/10/09 Edition Front Page “Council Backs City Peace Day”. $22,000 was printed as $220,000. It should have read, “‘The initial investment for the newest technology system is $22,000.’ When member Gayle Washburn queried concern for new computer investment, ‘You can use the computers you have now.’ Minkx replied. City councilmember Jamey Brooks moved for a vote to purchase the Granicus System, with a second from Council Member Laurie Hernandez. All members voted in favor.”

 
U.S. Army Specialist Eleazar Lopez.
U.S. Army Specialist Eleazar Lopez.
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U.S. Army Specialist Eleazar Lopez.
U.S. Army Specialist Eleazar Lopez.
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Eleazar Lopez, 20 years old, is a 2007 Fillmore High School Graduate and Fillmore native. When I last wrote about Eleazar Lopez in June 2008 he said with enthusiasm, “I graduated with the greatest class ever!” Eleazar also attended Piru Elementary School and Fillmore Middle School. Eleazar was on the FHS Cross Country and Track and Field teams all 4 years at FHS. He also played the trumpet in the band from the 4th grade to his freshman year at FHS.

Eleazar soon after graduation from FHS enlisted in the United States Army on March 31, 2007 and completed his basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Eleazar also told me that he would like to become an Airborne Ranger and have an assignment in Hawaii, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, or Fort Stewart, Georgia. Well he did make it to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, has been promoted to Army Specialist, and is now with the 82nd Airborne. Since June of this year, the 82nd Airborne Division has officially assumed command of of Regional Command-East, from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) during a ceremony at Bagram Airfield on June 3, 2009. As the result of his assignment with the 82nd Airborne Division, Specialist Eleazar Lopez is now stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division as a light wheeled vehicle mechanic, but hopes to go to Airborne Training when he returns from Afghanistan.

The 82nd Airborne Division's Mission is: Within 18 hours of notification, the 82nd Airborne Division strategically deploys, conducts forcible entry parachute assault and secures key objectives for follow-on military operations in support of U.S. national interests. Not an easy mission, but one with men and women serving in that Division the quality of Fillmore's own Eleazar Lopez, I am confident will be accomplished.
Kandahar Province is one of the largest CONTINUED »

 
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