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2 Thousand Oaks riders arrested in drug offense

January 28, 2015 - 11:50pm

Two men were arrested in connection with a drug offense Wednesday in Thousand Oaks, officials said.

The arrest was made just before noon on Westlake Boulevard south of Avenida De Los Arboles after officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle for a code violation. Officers learned the driver of the vehicle was operating the car for the Uber ride service, police said.

Officers contacted the car's passengers and found them to be in possession of about one-quarter pound of concentrated cannabis, also known as butane honey oil, and $2,000, authorities said. Further investigation discovered the men were using the car service to take them to a drug deal where they would sell the concentrated cannabis, authorities said.

Police said a typical dose of the concentrated drug is one-tenth of a gram and that the men had more than 1,000 dosage units of the drug, officials said.

Cody Jens, 24, of Agoura Hills, and Luke Karasiuk, 22, of Thousand Oaks, were arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance for sale and booked into county jail, authorities said.

Local Roundup, Jan. 28

January 28, 2015 - 10:47pm

BOYS BASKETBALL

SANTA BARBARA 88, BUENA 63

At Buena

Buena: Jordan Starr scored 13 points. Tanner Gray had eight points and four assists. Dalton Beavers and Taylor Sturgeon each had eight points.

Santa Barbara: Bolden Brace scored 23 points and Ben Clay had 22.

Records: Santa Barbara 20-4, 3-1 Channel League; Buena 14-6, 1-3.

 

VENTURA 41, SAN MARCOS 38

At Ventura

Ventura: Dustin Houck had 14 points and five rebounds. Bryce Fausset scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half.

Record: Ventura 15-7, 3-1 Channel League.

 

OAK PARK 74, CAMARILLO 47

At Camarillo

Oak Park: Riley Battin had 23 points and 11 rebounds. Michael Alvarez scored 21 points. Wes Slajchert had 15 points and six assists.

Camarillo: Brandon Adair had 10 points.

Records: Oak Park 15-7, 5-0 Coastal Canyon League; Camarillo 11-14, 0-5.

 

NORDHOFF 49, SANTA PAULA 41

At Santa Paula

Nordhoff: Atticus Reyes scored 13 points and had two steals. Nick Lewis had 10 points and eight rebounds. Tyler Rogers had 10 points and three assists. Luke Boyd grabbed eight rebounds and had three points.

Record: Nordhoff 9-11, 2-4 Tri-Valley League.

 

OXNARD 71, HUENEME 20

At Hueneme

Oxnard: Taylor Kirkham had 23 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals. Marquis Sedeno recorded 10 points and seven rebounds. Aaron Lee finished with eight points, five rebounds and four assists.

Hueneme: Baldemar Morales scored eight points.

Records: Oxnard 17-7, 5-0 Pacific View League; Hueneme 3-15, 0-5.

 

RIO MESA 63, CHANNEL ISLANDS 24

At Rio Mesa

Rio Mesa: Rajon Martin scored 14 points. Justin Roque and Dylan Haskell each had eight points.

Channel Islands: Fernando Romero scored seven points and Francis Juliano had six.

Records: Rio Mesa 9-13, 4-1 Pacific View League; Channel Islands 4-14, 1-4.

 

VILLANOVA PREP 49, CATE 47

At Villanova Prep

Villanova Prep: Eastin Bartholio scored 15 points and Jacob Greenspan had 11.

Cate: Nick Thomas had 16 points and Nate Wilson finished with 12.

Records: Villanova Prep 11-9, 6-2 Frontier League; Cate 4-9, 1-7.

 

THACHER 61, MALIBU 53

At Malibu

Thacher: Mitch Weil scored 23 points and Manny Aruho had 13. Mohammad Bakhiet added 10 points.

Record: Thacher 7-3, 5-2 Frontier League.

 

GIRLS BASKETBALL

RIO MESA 46, PACIFICA 25

At Pacifica

Rio Mesa: Cece Lucas scored 10 points and Julia Barroquillo had nine.

Pacifica: Celeste Salazar had six points, nine rebounds, four steals and two assists.

Records: Rio Mesa 16-6, 6-0 Pacific View League; Pacifica 11-13, 3-2.

 

NEWBURY PARK 54, THOUSAND OAKS 34

At Newbury Park

Newbury Park: Kayla Overbeck finished with 19 points, five rebounds, six steals and three assists. Avery Brunk had 12 points, three assists, three steals, and two blocks. Kate Foultz scored 11 points.

Thousand Oaks: Alexa Coubal scored 14 points and Taylor Halby had 10.

Records: Newbury Park 10-12, 4-1 Marmonte League; Thousand Oaks 17-4, 2-3.

 

MOORPARK 66, ROYAL 65

At Moorpark

Royal: Jessica Garner scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Melissa Ohmie had 12 points and eight rebounds. Jessica Gonzalez recorded seven points and eight assists. Mayrav Ben-Aderet had 10 points and seven rebounds.

Record: Royal 10-12, 2-3 Coastal Canyon League.

 

CAMARILLO 52, OAK PARK 25

At Oak Park

Camarillo: Sydney Arikawa scored 23 points and Simone Lewis had 13. Cameran Bahnsen had four points and eight rebounds.

Oak Park: Clara Matsumoto scored 10 points.

Records: Camarillo 15-7, 5-0 Coastal Canyon League; Oak Park 2-3 in league.

 

BOYS SOCCER

CAMARILLO 1, OAK PARK 0

At Camarillo

Camarillo: Nikolas Chunglo scored off an assist from Mitchell Costello in the 70th minute. Jordan Duran recorded his 11th shutout of the year.

Record: Camarillo 10-5-1, 3-2 Coastal Canyon League.

 

ROYAL 5, MOORPARK 1

At Royal

Royal: Anthony Manzanares and Thomas Hogan scored two goals apiece. Carlos Espinosa had a goal and an assist. Scott Moyer, James Bodnar and Hogan each had an assist. Josh Stokka, Kyle Myers and Henry Hong played well on defense. Fernando Lanuza had two saves in goal.

Record: Royal 14-4-4, 4-1-0 Coastal Canyon League.

 

CARPINTERIA 2, SANTA PAULA 0

At Carpinteria

Santa Paula: Pedro Magana, Gio Acosta, Ricky Zamarron and Mane Hernandez played well for the Cardinals.

Record: Santa Paula 3-2 Tri-Valley League.

 

GIRLS SOCCER

SANTA PAULA 8, BISHOP DIEGO 1

At Santa Paula

Santa Paula: Jasmine Ambriz and Paola Gonzalez scored three goals apiece. Griselda Diaz and Jennifer Magana each scored a goal. Lizbeth Garcia, Nataly Parra and Jennifer Magana each recorded two assists.

Record: Santa Paula 10-6, 4-1 Tri-Valley League.

 

MOORPARK 1, ROYAL 0

At Moorpark: Courtney Worstell was spectacular in goal for her third consecutive league shutout. Taylee Lidelle, Lauren Talbot, Beth Wade, Dominique Campbell and Jessie Ortega played well on the back line. Nicole Green scored off on an assist by Gillian Mathews. Kelsey Rouse, Sarah Hernandez and Green controlled the midfield.

Record: Moorpark 8-6-3, 3-1-1 Coastal Canyon League.

 

OAK PARK 5, CAMARILLO 3

At Oak Park

Oak Park: Hannah Adler and Jordyn Bradbury both had two goals and an assist. Jianna Zeolla scored a goal and Lauren Bay had two assists. Paige Harrington had an assist.

Record: Oak Park 14-2, 4-1 Coastal Canyon League.

 

NEWBURY PARK 4, THOUSAND OAKS 2

At Newbury Park

Newbury Park: Hayley Greenblatt and Kristina Krehbiel scored goals off assists by Tara McKeown. Maddie Murray scored off an assist by Maddy Spanglar assist. Emma Holmstrom scored off an assist by Emily Curtis.

 

AGOURA 1, CALABASAS 0

At Calabasas

Agoura: Sofia Chambers scored on a free kick in the 15th minute. Jordyn Morris had seven saves in the shutout. Kendall Allen played exceptionally well.

Record: Agoura 9-6-4, 2-2-1 Marmonte League.

 

GIRLS WATER POLO

FOOTHILL TECHNOLOGY 17, MALIBU 10

At Malibu

Foothill Technology: Lezly Plahn had six goals and five steals. Megan McKillican finished with five goals and four steals. Ariana Singer recorded three goals and nine steals. Taylor Wreesman had three blocks and one steal.

Record: Foothill Technology 20-3, 5-0 Frontier League.

 

ROYAL 18, MOORPARK 2

At Royal

Royal: Bailey Moore had four goals, two assists and three steals. Jenna Hurst had four goals and four steals. Sydney Hurst scored four goals. Morgan Molloy had three goals, two assists and a steal. Megan Abarta had two goals, four assists and six steals. Lauren Wiksell had a goal and four assists. Goalie McKenzie Richards made four saves and goalie Shaleigh Russel had a save and an assist.

Record: Royal 14-8, 4-0 Coastal Canyon League.

 

GIRLS WRESTLING

CHANNEL ISLANDS 28, PACIFICA 27

At Channel Islands

Channel Islands: Bianca Montes (111 pounds), Annabel Medina (121), Judith Reyes (189) and heavyweight Crystal Gomez won by pin as the Raiders won the first dual meet in program history.

 

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

CAL LUTHERAN 77, WHITTIER 75

At Whittier

Cal Lutheran: Chelsea Jacoby scored a career-hgh 32 points. Sofia Cruz had 16 points and Jessica Salottolo had 12. Katy Lindor added 10 points.

Records: Cal Lutheran 11-6, 6-2 SCIAC; Whittier 7-9, 3-5.

VC women, MC men win

January 28, 2015 - 10:35pm

It took Brooke Zamora and her freshmen teammates a moment to adjust to the cross-county rivalry.

“It is way more intense than any other game, that’s for sure,” Zamora said. “That makes it fun.”

By the time the freshman from Royal High stepped to the line to give the Ventura College women’s basketball team a three-point lead with six seconds to play Wednesday night at Raider Pavilion, she was ready.

“I just tried to block everyone out,” Zamora said. “They were normal free throws.”

Zamora had 16 points and nine rebounds as the first-place Ventura College women’s basketball team held on for a 60-57 win at second-place Moorpark College.

Freshman point guard Aubri Smith had 13 points and five assists and sophomore forward Micaela Pericone-Kapp had 12 points and nine rebounds as the No. 7-ranked Pirates (19-5, 6-0) completed the first cycle of Western State Conference play unbeaten.

Dagmar Ramirez and Sydney Bennett had 14 points apiece and Lindsay Neuner had 10 points for Moorpark (12-9, 4-2), which followed Saturday’s one-point loss at Cuesta with another heartbreaker.

“I told the kids I was really proud of them,” Moorpark coach Remy McCarthy said. “There’s some things we could have done to change the outcome and that’s encouraging. You can’t sulk. Right now it’s really important that we get ready for Hancock (on Saturday).”

Despite playing without star sophomore Ashley Ontiveros, who suffered a concussion in the final moments Saturday, Moorpark jumped out to a 10-4 lead and controlled much of the first half.

VC settled down behind Zamora and Pericone-Kapp, who splashed three consecutive 3-pointers to give the Pirates their first lead, 18-14, with 6:34 left in the half.

Zamora’s late jumper gave VC a 31-22 lead at the break.

“Brooke was on fire,” Pericone-Kapp said.

Moorpark made two real runs at snapping its 24-year-old losing streak to its cross-county rival.

Christina Provenzano, thrust into the starting lineup in Ontiveros’ place, drained a 3-pointer as the Raiders opened the half on a 9-2 run to close within 33-31 with 16:10 left.

Again, VC responded from the outside. Smith and Pericone-Kapp followed with consecutive 3-pointers to steady the ship and Pericone-Kapp dropped another 3 to give the Pirates a 47-36 lead with 10:44 left.

Moorpark wouldn’t wilt. Jessie Sager scored inside and Neuner and Provenzano made 3-pointers to pull it within 48-47 with 6:04 to play.

“I don’t think that we ever lost our drive to win,” Sager said. “We played as hard as we could the whole game.”

Havanna Vanello’s 3-pointer pulled Moorpark even, 50-50. Bennett and Neuner followed two Zamora free throws with jumpers to give the Raiders the lead. Bennett’s three-point play gave them a 57-54 lead with 3:09 left.

“I was like, ‘What the heck is happening?’ ” said Pericone-Kapp.

Sandra Ortiz scored on the right block and Carolyn Ruffino drained a runner to put VC back ahead, 58-57, with 1:38 to play.

“I couldn’t believe it, but I think we handled it well,” Pericone-Kapp said. “We slowed it down and utilized the strengths in our offense. That helped us and we just calmed down.”

Ruffino also had a key offensive rebound as the Pirates held possession for much of the final minute before Moorpark followed Zamora’s icing free throws with a potential game-tying 3-pointer, which bounced off the back rim at the buzzer.

“You always want to give yourselves a chance,” McCarthy said. “We really missed a golden opportunity.”

That was the oh-so-slim decider of another dramatic rivalry night at Raider Pavilion.

“It was a really great game,” Pericone-Kapp said. “It was more competitive. There was more to lose. There was more passion in the game.”

MOORPARK MEN WIN

Joshua Brooks and Larry Bush had 16 points apiece, Jeremiah Gray had 15 points and Austin Howell had 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench as the Moorpark College men’s basketball team held off Ventura, 79-76.

Four days after Moorpark (13-10, 3-3) faded down the stretch at first-place Cuesta, it converted 8 of 8 free throws in the final 68 seconds to close out the victory.

“We just kept fighting,” Moorpark coach Gerred Link said. “Ventura kept fighting. They just kept coming back.”

Ventura (8-14) fell to 1-5 in WSC North play, despite a game-high 25 points from sophomore Vondel Faniel.

Moorpark led 68-57 with 7:15 to play, but VC whittled the deficit down to 73-72 on Jalon Wilson’s jump shot with 30 seconds to play.

St. Bonaventure holds off Santa Clara

January 28, 2015 - 9:49pm

Up by 12 at the break, the St. Bonaventure High boys basketball team saw its lead shrink to three near the end of the third quarter.

The Seraphs didn’t fret and didn’t fold. They didn’t waver in what shaped up as their biggest game of the regular season.

“I see this as a sign that this team continues to mature,” St. Bonaventure coach Patrick Frank said after his team’s 64-48 victory over visiting Santa Clara on Wednesday night. “They continued to believe in themselves, in the team, and that pulled us through tonight.”

St. Bonaventure restored the momentum with a 6-0 run at the end of the third quarter, and stretched it out for a victory that all but wraps up the Tri-Valley League championship.

With their seventh consecutive victory, the Seraphs improve to 6-0 in league and 13-9 overall, and build the lead to two games with four to go.

Santa Clara falls two games back at 4-2 (7-14 overall).

“It’s a big, big win for us,” said senior guard Jake Todey, who notched 19 points, including 12 in the final half. “It’s our first goal to win the league championship and this is a big step in that direction.

“We kind of expected (Santa Clara) to come back at us in the second half. We stayed in the system and stayed together as a team. That’s how you win games like that.”

Thomas Frank also tallied 19 points for the Seraphs, with four 3-pointers in the first half and five on the night. Santa Clara’s hot hand was Isaiah Nichols with a game-high 21 points, including 15 in the final two quarters.

“We played hard,” said Santa Clara coach Bobby Tenorio.”We were really hoping to pull into a tie for league lead, and we gave it a good run. We fell short but that still leaves us with a lot to play for. We can finish second in the league and get a good seeding heading into the playoffs.”

The game’s moment of truth came in the third quarter.

Trailing at 32-20 at halftime, the Saints came out aggressive and snapped off a 16-7 spurt.

A 3-pointer by Larry Grefalda with 2:39 left in the period sliced the disadvantage to 39-36.

Thereafter, a charging call on a potential three-point play went against the Saints. Nichols followed with 3-point attempt that spun deep into the basket, before spinning out.

Then the Seraphs took charge.

Three consecutive baskets, including a drive to the basket by Todey and an inside shot by Frank, upped the lead to 45-36 at the end of three periods. The Saints never got closer than eight points again.

St. Bonaventure takes charge of the league race, but Frank expects his players to stay focused. At least that was the message in the postgame locker room.

“I told them that we haven’t won anything yet,” he said. “We’re not a league champion after tonight. We do have a target on our backs, and teams are going to come after us the next four games.”

A hot first quarter and a hot first hand by Frank lifted St. Bonaventure to a 32-20 lead at halftime.

Frank knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers in the first quarter to build the lead to 15-8, then added a 3-pointer at the top of the second period to extend the advantage to 24-8.

Santa Clara didn’t help its cause in the first quarter.

The Saints missed 7 of 10 shots, took a pair of offensive fouls and committed three turnovers in the opening quarter.

But Santa Clara settled down, going on a 10-2 run in the second period to cut the deficit to 26-18.

St. Bonaventure closed with its own mini-run, at 6-2, to hike the edge to 32-20 at half’s end.

The Seraphs had six 3-pointers in the opening half, including one apiece by Darius Vines and Ryan Basaldua.

Oaks tops Westlake in first meeting

January 28, 2015 - 9:12pm

Oaks Christian School junior Samantha Bruder tries to treat every game the same way. She is competitive and wants to win them all.

But even Bruder had to admit Wednesday night had a little added meaning.

Oaks Christian and Westlake were meeting in girls soccer for the first time in history.

Oaks Christian is the new kid on the block in the Marmonte League and Westlake is the six-time defending league champion.

It appears there will be a changing of the guard.

Sisters Samantha and Jackie Bruder scored goals to lead Oaks Christian to a 2-1 victory over Westlake at Oaks Christian School.

Oaks Christian (11-0, 5-0) remained undefeated while Westlake (7-1-4, 2-1-2) suffered its first loss.

“This win was amazing. Going into the game we were all super pumped and ready,” Samantha Bruder said. “I know a lot of girls on their team and play club with them, so it was extra exciting to play them.”

Samantha Bruder gave Oaks Christian the early lead in the 14th minute when she dribbled half the field and slotted a shot into the left side of the goal.

“I saw the goal and knew 0-0 was very dangerous and knew we had to score,” Samantha Bruder said. “Right when I was about to shoot, I said to myself: ‘I am going to score,’ and I did. It always feels great to celebrate with my teammates.”

Freshman Jackie Bruder doubled the Oaks Christian advantage in the 26th minute by corralling a long ball from junior Megan Demijohn and scoring for a 2-0 lead.

The game became more physical in the second half as Westlake battled to stay in contention.

Sophomore Brooke Wynalda cut Westlake’s deficit in half by scoring on a 25-yard free kick with 12 minutes remaining to pull the Warriors within 2-1.

Jackie Bruder nearly increased Oaks Christian lead back to two in the waning minutes, but her shot bounced off the left post.

Westlake pushed vigorously for the equalizer in the final two minutes. Sophomore Hannah Sharts had the best opportunity on a 30-yard free kick that sailed just over the crossbar.

“Sam Bruder is a tremendous player and we didn’t do a really good job in the first half dealing with the situation defensively,” Westlake head coach Frank Marino said. “We lost our shape a little bit and that was kind of the difference in the game. But I was pleased with how we played overall, especially in the second half.”

Oaks Christian head coach Sebastian Alvarado was happy his program emerged unscathed in the first round of league.

“It’s a good league win for us and it puts us seven points up from everybody else. That is the way I look at it,” he said. “I thought in the first half we had some chances to score and Sam putting that ball away was a turning point.”

Although Oaks Christian is likely to end Westlake’s league title reign this season, Marino said he doesn’t mind having the Lions finally on the schedule.

“I think it’s good. They provide a good level of competition,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with them being in our league. I think it’s great for our league and makes us better.”

Californians support Obama's immigration policy

January 28, 2015 - 9:00pm

Californians overwhelming support President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration that would protect as many as 4 million people living in the country illegally from the threat of deportation, a poll released Wednesday shows.

The poll, conducted by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, finds 69 percent of California adults support the president’s action, including 89 percent of Latinos and 55 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

The results suggest Californians back the action much more strongly than Americans as a whole. An ABC/Washington Post poll in December found 52 percent of adults nationwide support the executive order.

“Californians settled on this issue quite a while ago,” said PPIC pollster Mark Baldassare. “They support immigration reform and a path to citizenship.”

The poll, conducted over landlines and cellphones, surveyed 1,705 Californians from Jan. 11-20. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.

Likely because the Democratic president took the action on his own and it has been condemned by the Republican leadership in Congress, Baldassare noted that the partisan split on opinions of the executive action was much more pronounced than partisan differences on the broader issue of comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for those already living in the country illegally.

Approval among Democrats of the executive order stood at 83 percent, with only 35 percent of Republicans in support. About two-thirds (65 percent) of independents favored the action.

Previous PPIC polls have found bipartisan support among Californians for comprehensive immigration reform.

In other findings, the poll shows Californians are generally optimistic about the condition of the state. Among adults, 57 percent believe the state is headed in the right direction and 58 percent expect good economic times in 2015.

That optimism is reflected in the approval ratings of elected officials, which were up across the board.

Approval of Obama’s performance rose to 60 percent, up 11 percentage points from October. It is now at its highest level since July 2013.

At the state level, approval of Gov. Jerry Brown’s performance is at its highest level since he took office this time around in January 2011 — it stands at 61 percent. Brown’s level of public approval has marched steadily upward since 2011, when it stood at 40 percent.

Approval of the performances of Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, the Legislature and Congress is also moving upward.

“When the president’s, the governor’s, the Legislature’s and Congress’ approval ratings all go up, you’re looking at a time when people are feeling much, much better about the economy,” Baldassare said. “That raises everyone.”

On issues related to the state budget, the poll found Californians are almost evenly split on the question of whether to extend the temporary tax increases voters approved with the passage of Proposition 30 in 2012.

A one-quarter percent increase in the sales tax is scheduled to expire in 2016, and an increase in income-tax rates for those with annual incomes of $250,000 or more will be in place through 2018.

The poll found 50 percent of adults and 52 percent of likely voters favor extending those increases.

Brown has said he intends to stick by his promise that those tax increases would be temporary, but some advocates are proposing that a measure be placed on the 2016 ballot asking voters to extend the increases.

Point Mugu State Park to reopen

January 28, 2015 - 7:30pm

Much of Point Mugu State Park will reopen Thursday after a weekslong closure to repair storm damage.

Officials closed the park, which stretches from Newbury Park to the ocean, after a Dec. 12 storm. Mud and rocks slid down steep canyons in heavy rain, covering roads and campgrounds with debris and washing out some trails.

The adjacent Pacific Coast Highway also was closed because of storm damage, and at this point, still is. So while the park’s backcountry will reopen Thursday, access into the park is limited to the Newbury Park side, through Rancho Sierra Vista.

Until the highway opens, park visitors won’t be able to travel all the way down to PCH or reach the park’s beach facilities, officials said.

A fence and sign also will be posted at the La Jolla Canyon Trail/La Jolla Valley Loop Trail to prevent access because of severe damage in the storm, said Craig Sap, district superintendent for state parks.

A rockslide destroyed the trail at the waterfall about a mile above PCH, and there’s no date yet for when it will be able to reopen.

Fillmore Unified hunting for administrator

January 28, 2015 - 6:45pm

The Fillmore Unified School District is searching for a new assistant superintendent of business services after an administrator left in the middle of the school year to be closer to his family.

Gary Hobelman had served as the assistant superintendent of business services since October but resigned Jan. 21 after getting hired for the same position in a district outside San Diego, said Fillmore Superintendent Adrian Palazuelos.

“It’s a loss for us, but family and being with family is extremely important, so he went with mine and the (school) board’s full support,” he said.

The district board approved Hobelman’s resignation at its Jan. 20 meeting.

The district has begun advertising the open position across the state and hopes to fill it soon, Palazuelos said. The application deadline is Monday, and the district plans to interview the final candidates two weeks later.

“This is a priority for our district,” Palazuelos said. “We’re going to move as quickly and as appropriately as possible.”

In the meantime, other administrative workers are filling in as best they can.

“We’re managing,” Palazuelos said. “We’re definitely fortunate that we have some good, informed staff helping us through this time. That’s why we want to move in a manner that is very focused, making we sure get a good fit for our district and continue in moving forward.”

The 3,774-student district is seeking applicants with at least five years of experience as a manager performing accounting and business duties for a school district or public agency. Candidates also should “be up to speed on California’s budget changes with respect to schools and be willing to make a difference for kid’s lives,” Palazuelos said.

The position pays $107,775 and $131,125 a year and includes benefits.

Hobelman will work for the Mountain Empire Unified School District in Pine Valley, which is closer to where his wife and children live, Palazuelos said. The administrator lived in Fillmore but regularly made a three- to four-hour drive to see his family, according to the superintendent.

Before coming to Fillmore, Hobelman worked for school districts in Imperial and San Diego counties.

Palazuelos said Hobelman set the district on a steady financial track and would be missed.

“I just can’t say enough good things,” Palazuelos said. “He was a great man to work with, but he had to make a decision based on what’s best for his family, and we supported him 110 percent.”

Oxnard council reviews audit

January 28, 2015 - 5:49pm

Oxnard’s annual audit, seen through the eyes of its new finance chief, shows sobering obstacles ahead as the city gears up to budget for the next fiscal year.

Dave Millican, a consultant serving as interim head of finance, on Tuesday night walked the City Council through Oxnard’s financial performance for the fiscal year that ended June 30. While the discussion lacked the stomach-dropping drama many cities and counties experienced during the Great Recession, the analysis made clear there are major hurdles looming and the city remains vulnerable to another economic downturn.

“You’re spending everything you have to keep up with the service demands of the city,” Millican said, referring to a chart that showed Oxnard has essentially been treading water for the past five fiscal years. The city’s unchanged net position during that time is of concern, he said, because big costs now loom to cover basic maintenance and equipment purchases that were postponed.

City staff members have previously said hundreds of millions of dollars will be needed in coming years to fix streets and upgrade aging water, sewer and trash facilities. Other significant spending will be needed to add essential components to the city’s ambitious groundwater management program.

Pension costs are also on the rise. Unfunded liabilities for Oxnard’s basic and supplemental retirement programs totaled roughly $230 million. Those numbers can change as investment returns fluctuate, but the city expects to pay more toward the plans. In part that’s because an unusual property tax in Oxnard that goes to pensions for police and firefighters will no longer provide enough revenue to pay total contributions. The city’s supplemental plan for nonsafety employees will also require more contributions because of errors in previous years’ payments. Costs for other retiree health care benefits will go up as well.

Fund balances for the city’s golf course and performing arts center are a combined $5.8 million in the red, an amount that will eventually need to be paid down, Millican told the council. A recent city report also showed a structural deficit of about $2.9 million will impact the general fund in the new fiscal year that starts July 1. The city of 203,000 residents has a general fund of roughly $114 million.

City Manager Greg Nyhoff, who started in June and has brought in a raft of consultants to analyze city operations and finances, told the council Oxnard’s monetary issues are fixable, though it could take several years to sort things out.

“That’s why we hired Mr. Nyhoff,” Mayor Tim Flynn joked. “He’s going to solve all of these problems.”

Decision would bar local judges from Boy Scouts

January 28, 2015 - 5:47pm

Roger Lund leads his son’s Cub Scout pack and sits on the bench as a Ventura County Superior Court judge.

But seven state Supreme Court justices decided last week he — and other California judges — can’t do both.

“I love to be involved in my kids’ life,” Lund, of Camarillo, said of his role with the Boy Scouts of America.

“I feel like I have something decent to offer a lot of these kids,” he said. “I think it’s good for a judge to be involved in this community.”

California’s Supreme Court in 1996 banned judges from belonging to groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, but made an exception for nonprofit youth groups.

The court voted last week to eliminate that exemption from its Code of Judicial Ethics — a move that would prohibit state judges from belonging to the Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts allow participation of gay boys but prohibit gay adults from serving as leaders.

Of 47 states that ban judges from joining discriminatory groups, 22 states, including California, include groups that show bias on the basis of sexual orientation. California was the only one that made exceptions for youth groups.

California’s Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics last year recommended eliminating the exception to enhance public confidence in the judiciary, and the proposal was released for public comment.

The court received 649 comments, including from judges opposed to the change and others in favor.

“I am a justice on the Court of Appeal, an openly gay man, and a former Boy Scout,” Jim Humes, an appellate judge in San Francisco, wrote in his comments in support of repealing the exception.

Calling the exception offensive and harmful, Humes said it demeans gay and lesbian judges and “incites distrust” in judicial impartiality.

“By allowing judges to be members of the Boy Scouts, the exception perpetuates the public’s impression that the scales of justice are tipped against gays and lesbians,” he wrote.

The Ventura County Council of the Boy Scouts could not be reached for comment for this report. It’s unclear how many local judges belong to or serve in positions with the Boy Scouts.

Lund, an Eagle Scout himself, has a 17-year-old who is an Eagle Scout candidate, a 10-year-old Cub Scout and a 7-year-old who will be soon.

“Their dad is an active leader in their troops,” Lund said. It’s something he said is “thoroughly enjoyable,” that he’s called on by his church to do, and that has never impacted his role as a judge.

Lund wrote to the court’s Judicial Ethics Committee last summer, urging it not to adopt the change to what he said was commonly known as “the Boy Scout Exception.”

“Many judges throughout California, including myself, give freely of our time and talents to volunteer with an organization we believe to help boys become men of faith, integrity and courage,” he wrote.

According to last week’s decision, judges have until Jan. 21, 2016, to comply with the new rule.

Lund said he is committed to always following the laws and judicial canon and will do so in this case. But he said he is concerned that the court’s decision discriminates against some judges without any proof of harm.

“If the courts can remove judges or require them to resign membership from organizations on these grounds, what will stop them, in the future, from attempting to remove Mormon, Catholic or conservative Jewish or Christian judges for their affiliation with ‘discriminatory’ organizations?” he said.

In his case, Lund is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which he said adopted the Boy Scout programs as its official activity arm. He was asked by his church to serve as a leader for the groups his local congregation sponsors, he said.

In a statement released last week, 4th District Court of Appeal Justice Richard D. Fybel, chairman of the Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics, said membership in a religious organization is the only remaining exception to the general rule.

One other exception — belonging to a military organization — was eliminated, as well, because the U.S. armed forces no longer restrict military service based on sexual orientation, Fybel said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

McDonald's CEO steps down as sales decline

January 28, 2015 - 5:46pm

NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald's CEO Don Thompson is stepping down as the world's biggest hamburger chain fights to hold onto customers and transform its image.

The company said Thompson, who has been CEO for two-and-a-half years, will be replaced by Steve Easterbrook, its chief brand officer. Easterbrook has led efforts related to marketing and menus and served as president of McDonald's Europe.

McDonald's Corp., which has more than 35,000 locations around the world, is struggling amid intensifying competition and changing attitudes about food. Earlier this month, the company said traffic in the U.S. fell 4.1 percent last year, after a 1.6 percent decline in 2013. The company said it's making major changes to bring back customers, including simplifying its menu and even examining the ingredients it uses. To save money, it said it would slow down new restaurant openings in some markets.
 

On Wednesday, McDonald's said Thompson will leave his post March 1 after nearly 25 years with the company. Thompson was the first African-American to head the company since it was founded in 1955.

In after-hours trading, shares of McDonald's jumped 3 percent to $91.55. The stock has declined about 6 percent in the past year while broader markets are up in the double digits.

Richard Adams, a consultant for McDonald's franchisees in San Diego, said Thompson's departure was a bit of a surprise considering the numerous plans McDonald's recently announced to turn around its business. Adams noted that a change in the CEO seat also leaves open the question of whether the company will shift course on its latest initiatives.

"Is everything going to change, or are Don's plans going forward?" Adams said.

Here's a look at the challenges Easterbrook will inherit as McDonald's new CEO, and the changes that are already under way.

FAST FOOD IS JUNK FOOD

McDonald's is trying to shake the image that its food is cheap, greasy and made with mysterious ingredients. During talks with investors in recent months, Thompson has made a point of stressing that McDonald's is a restaurant company that cooks food in kitchens and cracks fresh eggs to make its McMuffins.

To dispel myths about its food, McDonald's recently launched a campaign inviting people to ask questions about its offerings, such as "Do McDonald's buns contain the same chemicals used to make yoga mats?" and "Are your burgers fresh or frozen?"

Part of the problem for McDonald's and other traditional fast-food chains is that people are increasingly gravitating toward food they feel is more wholesome or made with higher quality ingredients. And newer places like Chipotle and Panera are positioning their food as just that, for just a little extra money.


BLOATED MENU, MESSY SERVICE

McDonald's has conceded its menu in the U.S. has gotten bloated. That slows down service because it takes customers longer to figure out what they want, while also complicating kitchen operations in the back. It also increases the chances that orders will be wrong.

As such, McDonald's is rolling out a simplified menu that reduces the number of Value Meals, and trims items that may be repetitive, such as various flavors for its Quarter Pounder.

PICKIER CUSTOMERS

The ability to customize orders is gaining popularity as well. At Chipotle, for instance, people like that they can walk down a line and dictate exactly what goes into their bowls and burritos.

In hopes of giving customers more flexibility in adjusting their burgers and sandwiches to taste, McDonald's recently rolled out new prep tables that can hold more condiments and toppings. It also has more dramatic plans in the works.

McDonald's plans to roll out an option that lets people build their own burgers by tapping a touchscreen. The food takes a bit longer to prepare, but the company is hoping customers will think it's worth the wait. McDonald's said the "Create Your Taste" option will be in 2,000 of its more than 14,000 U.S. locations by later this year.

PRICES TOO HIGH

A major attraction of McDonald's is that the food is supposed to be affordable. But prices on core menu items like Big Mac meals have gotten a bit high for some people.

Part of the problem is the popular Dollar Menu. To offset the deals on that menu, McDonald's has admitted that other parts of the menu got too expensive.

In turn, the company has said that prompted people tend to "trade down" to the Dollar Menu. And that left many customers associating the McDonald's brand with its cheapest items.

 

Reagan Library exhibit to honor fallen veterans

January 28, 2015 - 5:46pm

A memorial wall called “Remembering Our Fallen,” featuring photos of men and women from California who have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, will be unveiled Saturday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley.

The portraits of more than 700 men and women from California who lost their lives during the post-9/11 conflicts will be displayed in laminated panels at the library until Feb. 8.

More than 1,000 people, including family members of the fallen, are expected to attend the opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday. About an hour before, family members will be escorted to their service member’s portrait to pay tribute.

The Patriot Guard Riders will arrive on over 100 motorcycles at the Reagan Library at 8:30 a.m. to create an American Flag tunnel for the family members. Admission to the Air Force One Pavilion is being waived for the public before 10 a.m.

Speaking at the event will be Simi Valley resident Tony DiRaimondo, a Vietnam War veteran whose 22-year-old son, Army Sgt. Michael DiRaimondo, died in a helicopter crash in Iraq in 2004.

The memorial wall at the Reagan Library is the largest so far in the traveling exhibit that is debuting Saturday in California.

California is the 14th state where a memorial wall is being displayed and it has the largest number of men and women who have lost their lives during the wars. Each state honors its own fallen.

Bill Williams and his wife, Evonne, of Omaha, Nebraska — parents to four sons in the military — came up with the idea for the memorial wall after hearing a news story in their hometown about a man who lost his son in Iraq.

They set out four years ago to create unique memorials of those who died in each state.

“We wanted to make sure they were never forgotten,” said Bill Williams, president of Patriotic Productions.

It took nine months for his wife to track down the relatives of the California fallen.

Williams found sponsors to underwrite the costs of producing the memorial and found locations to host it.

“This exhibit is created to travel easily throughout California, so that more people will have the opportunity to honor and remember California’s fallen from one of the longest wars in our nation’s history,” said Mary Hawkins, president of Bellevue University, the sponsor for the memorial wall in California.

Williams said Reagan Library officials agreed to host the display for free until it moves to other locations in California.

“We’ve never had a venue like the Reagan Library,” he said. “The California memorial is so big that we have a registry to help families locate their loved ones.”

Williams noted that it was important to make it a traveling exhibit, rather than just sitting static in one location.

He said family members have been happy that their loved ones are not forgotten. The concept of the wall was to pair a person’s military photo with a personal photo.

“It really personalizes it and gives people a glimpse of their lives outside of uniform,” Williams said.

“It’s a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by each of these men and women,” he said of the exhibit. “This is the least we can do to honor them for their sacrifice.”

Nobel laureate Charles Townes dies

January 28, 2015 - 5:45pm

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Charles H. Townes, the co-inventor of the laser and a Nobel laureate in physics who unapologetically spoke of his strong spiritual faith, has died. He was 99.

Officials at the University of California, Berkeley, where Townes was a professor emeritus who only last year stopped going to campus every day, said he had been in poor health before he died Tuesday on the way to an Oakland hospital.

Townes was a faculty member at Columbia University when he did most of the work that would make him one of three scientists to share the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics for research leading to the creation of the laser. The others were Russian physicists Aleksandr M. Prokhorov and Nicolai G. Basov.
 

Townes' research, the basis of which he often said came to him like a religious revelation, applied the microwave technique used in wartime radar research to the study of spectroscopy, the dispersion of an object's light into its component colors.

He envisioned that would provide a new window into the structure of atoms and molecules and a new basis for controlling electromagnetic waves. His insights eventually led to the first laser and eventual applications for medicine, astronomy and telecommunications.

"Charlie Townes had an enormous impact on physics and society in general," Steven Boggs, the chairman of the physics department at Berkeley, said. "Our department and all of UC Berkeley benefited from his wisdom and vision for nearly half a century. His overwhelming dedication to science and personal commitment to remaining active in research was inspirational to all of us. "

A devoted member of the United Church of Christ, Townes earned praise and raised eyebrows later in his career with a series of speeches and essays investigating the similarities between science and religion.

"Science tries to understand what our universe is like and how it works, including us humans," Townes wrote in 2005 upon being awarded the Templeton Prize for his contributions in "affirming life's spiritual dimension."
 

"My own view is that, while science and religion may seem different, they have many similarities, and should interact and enlighten each other," he wrote.

Born on July 28, 1915, in Greenville, S.C., to Baptist parents who embraced an open-minded interpretation of theology, Townes found his calling during his sophomore year at Furman University and went on to earn a master's degree from Duke University in physics and a doctorate at the California Institute of Technology.

He married his wife, Frances Hildreth Townes, in 1941, and during World War II designed radar bombing systems for Bell Laboratories.

Three years after he joined the Columbia faculty in 1948, Townes had his inspiration for the laser's predecessor, the maser, while sitting on a park bench in Washington, waiting for a restaurant to open for breakfast.

Scientists were stumped about ways to make waves shorter, but in the tranquil morning hours the solution suddenly appeared to Townes, a moment he famously compared to a religious revelation.

Townes scribbled a theory on scrap paper about using microwave energy to stoke molecules to move fast enough to create a shorter wave.

In 1954, that theory was realized when Townes and his students developed the maser (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation).

Demonstrating that masers could be made to operate in optical and infrared capacities, Townes and his brother-in-law, the late Stanford professor Arthur L. Schawlow, jointly published a theory in 1958 on the feasibility of optical and infrared masers, or lasers.
 

A laser controls the way that energized atoms release photons, or light particles. Today, they perform tasks ranging from cutting metal to vision correction and tattoo removal, but its inventors say they didn't foresee any of that.

"I realized there would be many applications for the laser," Townes told Esquire magazine in 2001, "but it never occurred to me we'd get such power from it."

Others built the first working lasers, but Townes shared the Nobel Prize in 1964 with two Russians for his work leading to its creation.

"I feel that very rarely have I done any work in my life," he told Esquire. "I have a good time. I'm exploring. I'm playing a game, solving puzzles, and having fun, and for some reason people have been willing to pay me for it. Officially, I was supposed to retire years ago, but retire from what? Why stop having a good time?"

Townes was named a full professor at Columbia in 1950 and later served as chairman of the university's physics department.

He was appointed provost and physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1961, and in 1967 he joined the faculty at the University of California.

In 1966, he published an article entitled "The Convergence of Science and Religion" in the IBM journal THINK.

The difference between science and religion "are largely superficial," he wrote, "the two become almost indistinguishable if we look at the real nature of each."

In an era when many scientists steadfastly avoided ties to religion, the views expressed in the piece were seen as blasphemy by people in both communities. Over the years, he wrote and spoke often on the subject, and in 2005, he won the Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities.

The award, billed as the world's richest religion prize, was worth more than $1.5 million, and past recipients have included Mother Teresa.

"Many people don't realize that science basically involves assumptions and faith. But nothing is absolutely proved," Townes said at the time. "Wonderful things in both science and religion come from our efforts based on observations, thoughtful assumptions, faith and logic."

Townes lived in Berkeley and is survived by his wife and four daughters, Linda Rosenwein, Ellen Townes-Anderson, Carla Kessler, and Holly Townes.

 

Renovated Simi Valley apartments reopen

January 28, 2015 - 5:34pm

The apartment complex at 1518 Patricia Ave. in Simi Valley has long been known as a crime magnet.

Simi Valley police have responded to the development more than 1,000 times in the last two years for everything from domestic violence and burglaries to drugs and gang-related incidents, police Cmdr. Stephanie Shannon said Wednesday.

But with a multimillion-dollar renovation, police and city officials are hoping that the 397-unit complex — previously known as the Creekside Apartments, now called the River Ranch Apartments — will be able to turn over a new, safer leaf.

“The history here over the years has been somewhat interesting,” Simi Valley Mayor Bob Huber said at the development’s grand reopening Tuesday night. “I’m being kind here.”

Given the complex’s sordid track record, Huber said he got excited when he first heard that developer Decron Properties Corp. planned to do an extensive makeover.

“You’ve totally transfixed this into a showcase facility that’s going to be very safe and very, very well used,” Huber said. “So bless you for taking this risk in this economy on this particular facility. You will not be disappointed.”

Shannon said the police department shares Huber’s hope that the renovated development and its new management approach “will not only benefit those people that reside at the complex in an effort to increase their quality of life, but also the quality of life of the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Los Angeles-based Decron bought the complex for $70 million in 2012 and has spent $14 million renovating its interiors and exterior. Despite its grand reopening, Decron will continue renovating the interiors of the remaining units for another 18 months, said CEO David Nagel. Tenants have been living there during the renovations, he said.

Decron is marketing the apartments as needed quality housing for middle class families who work in Ventura County and northern Los Angeles County.

“I really think that’s who our customers are, working in those job markets,” Nagel said Tuesday night, noting that Simi Valley is a 45-minute commute from downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena. “This is a truly transformed, affordable, luxury community.”

Monthly rents range from $1,325 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit to $1,995 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit, according to Decron’s website, http://decronproperties.com.​

Those are comparable to the average rents in the city, but lower than Ventura County average rents, according to Ventura real estate analyst Dyer Sheehan Group, Inc. As of July, which is the latest data Dyer Sheehan has released, the county average is $1,419 for a one-bedroom unit up to $2,167 for a three-bedroom unit.

Simi Valley rents are considerably lower than those in neighboring Los Angeles, Nagel said.

According to the website Rent Jungle, as of December, the average rent for a one-bedroom unit in Los Angeles was $1,796; a two-bedroom unit rented for $2,404.

“Apartments in Los Angeles, Pasadena and other urban centers in Southern California are pricing the middle class out of the market, so there’s a growing demand for quality apartment housing in beautiful suburban cities likes Simi Valley,” Nagel said.

Brian Gabler, Simi Valley’s economic development director, said Wednesday that the development will help the city fill its middle class housing needs.

“Absolutely,” he said. “It definitely does provide a housing option for middle class families. It has three-bedroom units, which are difficult to find in the area.”

Renovated amenities at River Ranch include a fitness center, an upgraded clubhouse with communal kitchen, two swimming pools, a hot tub, and a new dog park.

Mild weather makes Silver Strand Beach a draw

January 28, 2015 - 5:15pm

Even though it’s winter, mild temperatures helped make Silver Strand Beach near Oxnard a busy place Wednesday.

Crystal Heinemann played with her dog Luna as midday temperatures hovered in the upper 60s despite an overcast sky.

“Its going to be a long walk back down the beach,” said Heinemann, who admitted her 2-year-old English bulldog can usually keep herself entertained for hours with a single piece of driftwood on the beach.

Dredging pipes and earth-moving equipment were visible as sand appears to have been recently spread throughout the south end of the beach. A dredging vessel occupied the mouth of Channel Islands Harbor with pipes leading from the harbor over a jetty and across the beach.

Joe Taitai, 22, of Oxnard, was one of several dozen surfers who headed into the water to ride 2- to 3-foot swells in the late morning.

“The water is nice right now,” Taitai said after returning to shore.

Temperatures are expected to reach the low to mid 70s throughout Ventura County as the weekend approaches.

From staff reports

California declares e-cigarettes a health threat

January 28, 2015 - 4:31pm
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California health officials on Wednesday declared electronic cigarettes a health threat that should be strictly regulated like tobacco products, joining other states and health advocates across the U.S. in seeking tighter controls as "vaping" grows in popularity.   The California Department of Public Health report says e-cigarettes emit cancer-causing chemicals and get users hooked on nicotine but acknowledges that more research needs to be done to determine the immediate and long-term health effects.  

"E-cigarettes are not as harmful as conventional cigarettes, but e-cigarettes are not harmless" said California Health Officer Ron Chapman. "They are not safe."   New generations of young people will become nicotine addicts if the products remain largely unregulated, Chapman said. Last year, 17 percent of high school seniors reported using e-cigarettes, known as vaping, according to the report.   "Without action, it is likely that California's more than two decades of progress to prevent and reduce traditional tobacco use will erode as e-cigarettes re-normalize smoking behavior," the report says.   E-cigarettes heat liquid nicotine into inhalable vapor without the tar and other chemicals found in traditional cigarettes. A cartridge of nicotine can cost anywhere from $5 to $20 dollars and can be reused over extended period of times.   California banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors in 2010, but the report raises concerns about the products appeal to children with flavors such as cotton candy and gummy bear. Reports of children under 5 with e-cigarette poisoning jumped from seven in 2012 to 154 last year.   The California report says e-cigarettes emit as many as 10 toxic chemicals, but advocates say there is no evidence those substances are released at dangerous levels.   "Despite the health officer's false claims, there is ample evidence that vaping helps smokers quit and is far less hazardous than smoking," Gregory Conley, president of the e-cigarette advocacy group American Vaping Association, said in an email. "Smokers deserve truthful and accurate information about the relative risks of different nicotine products, not hype and conjecture based on cherry-picked reports."   Health officials called for restrictions on the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes, protections against accidental ingestion of liquid nicotine and an education campaign on the dangers of using e-cigarettes.   A state senator introduced legislation this week that would regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products and ban their use in public places such as hospitals, bars and schools. A similar bill was defeated last year over opposition from tobacco companies.  

Chapman, the health official, would not take a position on legislation, but said his department would be rolling out an e-cigarette awareness campaign with possible television and radio advertisements.   E-cigarettes have become more visible as they grow in popularity and commercials for the products air in places where traditional cigarette ads have been banned. Businesses related to e-cigarettes, including vaping lounges, are rapidly popping up in cities across California.   Geoff Braithwaite, co-owner of an Oakland store that sells liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes, said he understands the need to restrict vaping in public and prevent sales to minors. He says his customers are longtime smokers who should be able to get a nicotine buzz without the harshness of a regular cigarette.   "Nicotine has all this stigma attached solely to the medium we used to use," Braithwaite said. "When you try to outright ban e-cigarettes, you're lumping in the solution with the problem."   Other states, including Oklahoma, Tennessee and Arkansas, already have issued advisories cautioning the use of e-cigarettes. Legislatures have been exploring restrictions on e-cigarette marketing, adding childproof packaging requirements and imposing taxes to discourage use.   "Health officials want to be proactive on this important public health issue," said Lisa Waddell, who leads community health and prevention at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. "The issue of real concern here is we really don't know everything that's in these products, and you are seeing the rise of use of these products in our children as well of our adults."   __

Kern County woman pleads guilty in Oxnard scheme

January 28, 2015 - 4:25pm

A Kern County woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to her part in a scheme in which she fraudulently used an Oxnard person’s residence as collateral to secure her bail bond, according to a release from the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.

Hayser Scarlett Lopez, 46, was in jail in connection with an unrelated Kern County case at the time the Oxnard crime occurred. Lopez and fellow Kern County residents Gina Marie Hernandez, 37, and Peggy Ann Soto, 55, were involved in the scheme, the District Attorney’s Office said.

Soto was recruited by Hernandez to assume the identity of the Oxnard victim. Soto executed a fraudulent power of attorney and impersonated the victim while testifying at Lopez’s bail hearing in Kern County Superior Court, the District Attorney’s Office said.

Lopez fled the country as soon as the Oxnard home was used to secure her bail and release from police custody. As a result, the victim’s home was foreclosed and nearly lost during foreclosure proceedings, the District Attorney’s Office said.

Lopez eventually returned to the United States and was arrested in October 2014 in connection with the scheme. Hernandez and Soto were also arrested during that time. Lopez pleaded guilty to felony charges of perjury and recording a false document and was expected to be sentenced to two years in state prison at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 27. Soto and Hernandez were due in court at 1:30 p.m. Mar. 9 for an early disposition conference, the District Attorney’s Office said.

Measles cases rise statewide

January 28, 2015 - 4:20pm

At least 79 people in California have been diagnosed with measles, state officials reported Wednesday.

The numbers show an outbreak linked to December visits to Disneyland parks continues to rise. On Monday, state officials knew of 73 cases. A week ago, the count was at 59.

California Public Health Department officials also reported Wednesday that another 16 measles cases in seven states and Mexico have been linked to California.

Ventura County officials said Wednesday the county’s number of measles cases remains at eight.

Bravo salutes local achievement

January 28, 2015 - 4:01pm

Received

The Assistance League of Ventura County has received a $20,000 grant from the Annenberg Foundation for its Operation School Bell program. The grant will be used to buy school clothing for children in need in the Ventura, Oxnard, Ocean View and Hueneme school districts.

Earned

Jennifer Miller, director of student affairs assessment, research and staff development at CSU Channel Islands, has earned the 2014 Region VI Distinguished Service to the Profession Award from National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Miller accepted the award at the group’s 2014 western regional conference in Anaheim.

Conor O’Brien, son of Dave and Jamie O’Brien and a senior at Westlake High, earned a top composite score of 36 on an ACT test.

Selected

The readers of People en Español selected Patricia Salas Pineda, group vice president of the Hispanic Business Strategy Group at Toyota Motor North America, as one of the 25 Most Powerful Latinas of 2014. Pineda, daughter of Albino Pineda and the late Naomi Salas Pineda, of Santa Paula, graduated from Santa Paula High in 1970, went on to Mills College where she graduated in 1974 and obtained a juris doctor from the UC Berkeley School of Law in 1977.

Named

The Four Pillars chapter of Mortar Board at CSU Channel Islands was named among the nation’s top chapters for 2014. The university’s chapter of the national honor society earned the Silver Torch Award, presented to outstanding chapters that exemplify the ideals of scholarship, leadership and service and meet all standards and deadlines.

Yongyao Li, of Thousand Oaks, and Xinyuan Liu, of Ojai, were named to the 2014 fall dean’s list at the Army and Navy Academy.

Initiated

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi announced that Karen Theresa Cummings Lilly, of Newbury Park, recently was initiated into Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Cummings Lilly was initiated at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Graduated

Kimberly Ann Orear, of Simi Valley, graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in December with a bachelor of science degree in forensic science — molecular biology and a bachelor of science degree in biology.

Jessica Chenoweth, of Ojai, graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in December with a doctor of philosophy in counseling psychology.

 

Scholarships, flights and other events planned

January 28, 2015 - 3:56pm

Calabasas

Children can read to therapy dogs

Youths can read to therapy dogs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Calabasas Library, 200 Civic Center Way.

Reservations will begin at 11 a.m. Each child will have 15 minutes to read to a dog.

Call the library at 818-225-7616 for more information.

Camarillo

Students can apply for scholarships

The Camarillo Republican Woman Federated Club will offer the Charlotte Mousel Scholarship.

First-place award is $1,500, with additional awards ranging from $500 to $1,000. Applicants must write an essay on what the U.S. Constitution means to them.

Applications are available at the Camarillo High School and Rio Mesa High School career centers. The deadline is March 2. Call Nancy Boyce at 389-3011 for more information.

Thousand Oaks

Sign-ups available for summer camp

Early sign-ups are available for Camp Sequoia Lake.

The camp, designed for students entering fourth grade through high school, will run from Aug. 1-8. Activities include adventure courses, canoeing, fishing, lake swimming, archery, rock climbing, and arts and crafts.

Cost is $670, which includes transportation, activities and meals. Scholarships are available.

Contact Zak Howell at zak.howell@conejoymca.org or 523-7613 for more information. Visit http://www.conejoycamp.com to register.

Ventura County

Two programs welcome applicants

The California State Summer School for the Arts and California State Fellows welcome applicants.

The summer school seeks visual, literary, media and performing artists to participate in an arts program from July 11 to Aug. 7 at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. Applications are due by Feb. 28. Visit http://www.csssa.ca.gov or call 916-229-5160 to learn more.

The 2015-16 California Senate Fellows program allows 18 college graduates to become Senate staff members for 11 months starting in October. Applications are due by Feb. 9. Visit http://www.csus.edu/calst/senate or call David Pacheco at 916-278-5408 for more information.

Youths can enjoy their first flight

Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 723 pilots invite young people ages 8-17 to take their first flight for free Sunday in Santa Paula or Feb. 7 in Camarillo.

The flights will take off from the Santa Paula Airport, 822 E. Santa Maria St., and the Camarillo Airport, 501 Aviation Drive.

Visit http://www.eaa723.org for more information.