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DUI crackdown planned for Super Bowl Sunday

January 30, 2015 - 5:30am

As the Super Bowl nears, officials are urging motorists to designate a driver or plan a sober ride home ahead of Sunday festivities.

The Automobile Club of Southern California analyzed crash data from the California Highway Patrol and found a 77 percent increased risk of alcohol-related traffic collisions causing injury and death across the state on Super Bowl Sunday.

The analysis reviewed the number of alcohol-related fatal and injury crashes occurring from 5 p.m. Sunday through 4 a.m. the following day for the last five Super Bowls and compared it with other Sundays in January and February.

There have been 294 fatal and injury crashes on Super Bowl Sunday the last five years.

Another recent AAA report found that 10 percent of motorists admit to driving when their blood alcohol level was above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

“Super Bowl Sunday celebrations and alcohol consumption go hand-in-hand,” said Chris O’Quinn, the CHP’s assistant chief. “The CHP encourages game-day fun but discourages driving under the influence and any other unsafe driving. If you plan to drink, please prevent a tragedy by designating a sober driver, calling upon public transportation or considering Tipsy Tow service as a reliable option.”

The auto club’s Tipsy Tow service will give a drunken driver and their vehicle a tow home for free for up to 7 miles. After that, the driver is expected to pay the rate charged by the tow provider. The service will be offered from 6 p.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. Monday. The tow provides a one-way ride for the driver but not passengers.

The CHP and some other law enforcement agencies will have DUI checkpoints and expanded patrols Sunday. As part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk” campaign, Thousand Oaks police will deploy DUI saturation patrols from 3 to 11 p.m. at previous hot spots for DUI-related crashes and arrests, officials said.

“Drunken driving is completely preventable,” Thousand Oaks police Capt. Jim Fryhoff said. “All it takes is a little planning. We want fans to remember that it’s a choice. Drink or drive — but never do both.”

Thousand Oaks police also said those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications should remember that drinking small amounts of alcohol can intensify the impairment effects.

Four killed In Kabul shooting

January 30, 2015 - 5:26am

Three U.S. contractors and one Afghan national are dead after a shooting Thursday in Afghanistan. 

The shooting happened Thursday evening on a base at North Kabul International Airport. Several sources say the gunman was an Afghan soldier or someone in an Army uniform, though those reports haven't been officially confirmed. 

But if true, this would be another so-called "green-on-blue" attack, where Afghan soldiers or police officers turn their weapons on coalition forces. There have been fewer of these attacks in recent years, but this one comes just weeks after the U.S. and NATO officially ended their combat mission in the country.

Around 12,000 coalition troops, mostly from the U.S., are still stationed in Afghanistan and are focused on training the country's security forces.

Thursday was an especially violent day across Afghanistan: A suicide bomb targeting a funeral killed 17 people and injured 36 others, while a separate Taliban attack on a village killed 18, including seven Taliban soldiers.

First 5 wants to hear from Ventura Co. parents

January 30, 2015 - 5:01am

First 5 Ventura County wants to hear from parents as it plans for the future.

The publicly funded agency provides child development, health and support services for children up to age 5 and their families. As officials develop a strategic plan, they want to find out what parents think is needed and what challenges they face in Ventura County.

Surveys are available in English and Spanish online through Feb. 9 at http://www.first5ventura.org. For a paper copy, contact Kathy Rangel at 648-9990 or krangel@first5ventura.org.

The information is confidential and will be used for planning local programs and services, the agency said.

KCLU wins five awards

January 30, 2015 - 5:00am

National Public Radio station KCLU won five Golden Mikes for excellence in broadcast news coverage at the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California's 65th annual awards ceremony held recently at the Universal Hilton in Universal City.

Four of those awards were won by news director Lance Orozco. He captured awards for best news reporting, best entertainment reporting, best sports reporting and best use of sound.

Jim Rondeau, the station's former director of operations and programming, who is now the director of college broadcast services at Saddleback College, was honored for best newscast under 15 minutes.

KCLU won half the awards given out in its division for radio stations with five or fewer staff members. Broadcast newsrooms from San Luis Obispo to the Mexico border competed.

KCLU has won more than 80 Golden Mikes since 2001.

KCLU serves Ventura, Santa Barbara and southern San Luis Obispo counties and can be found online at kclu.org. The station is a community service of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

IRS Eases Repayment Rules

January 30, 2015 - 4:19am

Consumers who received too much in federal tax credits when buying insurance on the health law’s marketplaces last year got a reprieve of sorts from the Internal Revenue Service this week. Although they still have to repay some or all of the excess subsidies, the IRS won’t ding them with a late payment penalty if they don’t repay it by the April 15 tax deadline.

“They’re trying to make this work,” says Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University who’s an expert on the health law.

The amount people received was based on an estimate of their 2014 income. At tax time, that amount has to be reconciled against consumers’ actual income on IRS Form 8962. If consumers or the marketplace underestimated their 2014 income, they may have received too much in tax credits and have to pay back some or all of it.

How much people have to repay is based on their income and is capped at $2,500. People with incomes over 400 percent of the poverty line have to repay the entire amount, however.

This penalty reprieve only applies to the 2014 tax year. The IRS will allow people to repay what they owe on an installment basis. But be forewarned: Interest will continue to accrue until the balance is paid off.

Please contact Kaiser Health News to send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Longtime Ventura College art teacher dies at 93

January 30, 2015 - 2:33am

William H. McEnroe, who was hired in 1950 to help develop the art department at Ventura College and then spent the next 32 years teaching there, died Jan. 25 at his home in Olympia, Wash. He was 93.

Donna Granata, founder of Focus on the Masters, a nonprofit organization based in Ventura that researches and documents the lives of area artists, announced McEnroe’s death on Thursday.

“Bill was an instrumental figure in helping to shape the Ventura County art community and beyond,” Granata said in a news release.

MCENROEART.COM
This piece by William H. McEnroe is titled "Covered Bridge."

According to Granata, McEnroe was hired by Ventura College not long after he graduated from Stanford University. To populate the college’s fledgling art department, he went on the hunt not only for good teachers, but exceptional artists who were making a name for themselves in the contemporary art scene. Among his first hires were Jack Baker, to teach painting, and William Winterbourne, to teach ceramics. Soon, the full-time art faculty expanded to 14, including Carlisle Cooper, Gerd Koch and Hiroko Yoshimoto.

It wasn’t McEnroe’s plan to stay at Ventura College. “I thought Ventura would be a temporary stop en route to Yale,” he told Granata.

But stay he did. Over the next three decades, he taught watercolor, art history, art appreciation and scene design. He chaired the college’s Fine Art Division for 14 years and was the founding director of the New Media Gallery.

Hooked on art

From his first class as a 9-year-old in Fargo, North Dakota, McEnroe was hooked on art.

“I didn’t even know what art was but I thought, ‘This is what I want to do with my life,’ ” McEnroe told The Star in 2011.

McEnroe’s family moved from Fargo to a suburb of Boston and, when he was in high school, he began taking life drawing classes at the Boston Museum School of Fine Art.

After the United States entered World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and served from 1942 to 1946 on submarine chasers in the Atlantic and Pacific. According to Granata, he was assigned to a high-speed personnel carrier in San Francisco, which delivered 5,000 troops to various South Sea battle areas. In 1945, McEnroe was aboard the first ship to enter Japan’s Osaka Harbor after atomic bombs dropped at Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

When the war ended, McEnroe enrolled at Long Beach City College on the GI Bill. A summer painting course in the High Sierras, offered by San Jose State College, plunged him deeper into art.

“It was wonderfully thrilling and we were painting all day, every day,” he told The Star.

Encouraged by the dean, he enrolled at San Jose State, majoring in art and theater. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1949 with honors, married Carolyn Rucker, a sculptor, and went right into a graduate program at Stanford University.

“I knew if I wanted to go into the academic world I had to have more in my pocket than a bachelor’s,” he said.

McEnroe took as many credits as possible at Stanford.

“I studied 23 hours a day,” he said. “I didn’t even let my wife wear corduroy because it made noise when I was studying.”

The result was a master’s degree in 1950, again with distinction in art.

MCENROEART.COM
This pastel, titled "Country Store," was inspired by a store William H. McEnroe used to visit as a kid in a tiny village in northern Vermont.

While at Stanford, he was recruited by Ventura College and hired to begin teaching that summer.

“I was the No. 2 man of a two-man art department,” he said. “In 1951 Jack Ball left, making me the sole member and department head.” The college moved to its present location in 1955 and the art staff eventually grew to 14 full-time instructors and the department expanded to include music, theater, photography and dance.

After 14 years, McEnroe got tired of the administration aspect of the job and went back to teaching and painting.

“We bought a large, old house two blocks from the campus to accommodate an expanding family of five children,” he said. “I used to get up at 4 a.m. and paint in an old shed just to find time in a busy schedule, which began with 8 o’clock classes. I eventually built a big, beautiful studio.”

Watercolor had always been his medium of choice.

“Watercolor has a swagger about it, if done right, that other mediums lack,” he said. He was elected a signature member of the National Watercolor Society in 1961.

‘New adventures’

McEnroe retired from Ventura College in 1982. In 1989, after a brief stint living in Cambria, California, he and his wife moved to Olympia.

McEnroe always encouraged his students to take risks. “The greatest rewards await the artist who is prepared to go off on completely new adventures,” he wrote on his website, mcenroeart.com.

MCENROEART.COM
This William H. McEnroe painting is titled "Call of the Loon."

Over the course of more than 50 solo shows, he heeded that very advice.

“I operate on the premise that the wheel has already been invented, several times,” McEnroe wrote. “While it may be comforting to paint the cute, red barn over and over, the bigger challenge is to find other, newer ways to paint the same subject. My goal is to create something that has never been seen before, something exciting and new.”

In Olympia, he discovered two new passions: pastels and poetry.

“All my art junk was in storage when someone gave me a 12-stick set of colored pastels and, whoopee, I was off,” he told The Star. “Need a color? Pick up a stick and, wham, there it is, glowing, no mixing, no messing with brushes, no solvents.”

Experimenting with pastels, he developed a technique he called “fractured light.”

“I randomly break up the unity of an area by inventing spaces for new colors within the boundaries of another color,” he said. “It’s always an excursion of discovery. The marvelous thing about this process is there is no formula. You are discovering as you go — hey, I can use this color. Two colors collide and vibrate against each other. It’s endless what you can do. Really thrilling.”

In 2010, he published a book of his paintings titled, “La Grande Livre,” accompanied by free verse poetry.

“I never wrote a line until 2010,” he said. “It seemed to me this was a proper way of interpreting the visual part of it. Then I discovered I had a penchant for this. Almost every painting I’ve done since, I’ve written poem about. It seemed like an natural extension; sign the painting, write a poem.”

McEnroe is survived by his wife of 67 years, Carolyn; twin sons Shawn, of Tumwater, Washington, and Kelly, of Ventura; daughters Darcy Chutan of Oxnard, Meredith Meersman of Alexandria, Virginia, and Stephanie McGregor of Olympia; four nieces and nephews; and five grandchildren.

To see his art and read his poetry, visit mcenroeart.com.

We had questions, he had answers

In February 2011, The Star asked McEuen to answer a quirky set of questions about his life and career. These are his answers:

Describe your art in three words, without using adjectives: Scrambled invented facts.

Color that best represents you: The color that happens to be on my brush at the moment.

Smell that best represents your art: Chocolate and cinnamon (spicy and deep).

Object that best represents Ventura County: In the 1850s, ships from the East Coast called at Ventura Bay and traded goods for cattle hides from coastal ranches and delivered them back east to be made into leather goods. Today, I imagine it’s oil, table produce, citrus and new-age industries.

If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you would be?: I would be the captain of a four-masted square-rigged sailing ship who also wrote poetry.

Favorite place for artistic inspiration in Ventura County: Upper Sespe Creek.

Someone who inspires you who is not an artist: Maya Angelou (poet and writer).

Art supply you can’t do without: Erasers.

Best advice you’ve received about art: “Nolo bastardo carborundrum” (“Don’t let the bastards get you down”).

First thing as a kid that you drew or painted?: “Henny Penny and Her Chicks.”

Something posted on your refrigerator: The next doctor’s appointment.

How would you define a “master”?: One who has exhaustively and deeply explored all aspects of his profession.

Favorite comic strip: “Pogo.”

“I’m most proud of ___ “: I am most proud of my wonderful family.

Favorite flower, cereal and candy: Black-eyed Susan daisy, Blueberry Trail Mix, homemade fudge.

Who do you think will win the Oscar for best picture?: I couldn’t care less.

“An artist is ____ “: An artist is an Explorer!

Ventura beats Buena to clinch CIF berth

January 29, 2015 - 10:35pm

After seeing its 28-0 lead shrink to 28-24 in Thursday night’s Channel League showdown with crosstown rival Buena, the Ventura High boys wrestling team put its postseason fortunes in the hands of sophomore Joel Lopez and junior Chris Reyes.

Lopez, wrestling at 126 pounds, pinned Xavier Mendez to end the Bulldogs’ string of match wins at five and up the Cougars’ lead to 10 points.

A few minutes later, Reyes (132) sealed the victory for Ventura when he pinned Boula Markos as the Cougars won by a 40-30 margin.

Ventura earned second place in the Channel League behind champion Dos Pueblos, clinching a spot in the CIF-Southern Section Team Duals in two weeks.

“Words can’t describe how amazing it feels to go out there and do that for my team,” Lopez said. “With the crowd cheering, it was an amazing atmosphere. I knew I could pin him. I knew we needed the points and to do it for my teammates feels awesome.”

“It’s the best moment of my life,” Reyes said. “It feels amazing to go out and score the points that won the match for our team and clinches us a spot in the Duals.

“After seeing Joel pin his man, I went out there with the idea of going hard and not giving up. To end up pinning him feels so amazing.”

As Reyes came off the mat following the win, the junior leapt into the arms of head coach Mike Gacha as his teammates surrounded him.

“For those kids, it makes all the hard work seem worth it,” Gacha said of Lopez and Reyes. “They’ve both had some struggles, so for them to do what they did tonight is great to see. Those are the moments you live for as a coach.”

Gacha and his coaching staff opted to roll the dice in the early matches by having their first three wrestlers go up a weight class.

Luke Tada, normally at 138, earned six points against Nico Priedo, who had to retire early due to an injury, in the 145-pound match.

Justin Ledesma, usually at 145, moved up to 152 to take on Paul Munoz. In one of the closest matches of the night, Ledesma won 8-6.

Diego Kress won his match with Brady Yarbrough with a decision and Brandon Hickle (170) pinned Josh Mizrahi.

“I knew I was going to beat him,” Hickle said. “He is a good wrestler. His style is a little funky, but I felt like I could pin him. We wanted to get off to a fast start.”

After Justin Yale (182) won his match over Adan Andrade by decision, Angel Abundez (195) finished off Ventura’s roaring start with a pin of Roberto Martinez.

“As a senior this is my last time here, so it feels great to go out and win and help my team,” Abundez said.

Down 28-0, Buena refused to quit.

Anthony Ross defeated Tyler Gacha 8-4 for Buena’s first points. A few minutes later, heavyweight Tristan Castro pinned C.J Alarcon to pump up the Buena faithful.

“I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and I knew I needed to do something for my team,” Castro said.

Freshmen Juan Gutierrez (106) and D’Angelo Jones (113) followed with pins. Marquis Moreno (120) beat Zach Weisshaar by decision to cut Ventura’s lead to 28-24.

But Lopez and Reyes turned the momentum back to Ventura for good.

“I’m disappointed with the outcome, but I love the way we performed,” said Buena’s first-year coach Kane Hobbs. “I loved the way our kids just didn’t give up and they just kept fighting.

“We have a very young team so this was a great measuring stick for us to see where we are at. It’s also a great learning experience for us to grow on. Ventura is a great team and they wrestled well tonight. We’re disappointed but we feel good about our team’s future.”

Faith leaders call for end to homelessness

January 29, 2015 - 9:52pm

A group gathered at the foot of the Ventura City Hall on Thursday, calling on business, faith, civic and community leaders to finally, at last, once and for all, end homelessness.

They held signs — “Let’s come together to end homelessness,” “Ending homelessness is good for everyone” and “Housing First! Everyone deserves a helping hand!” — as vehicles drove by with drivers honking in support.

“This is not about divisiveness. This is not about confrontation,” said the Rev. Jan Christian of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura. “It’s about how we’re going to work together to end homelessness.”

The Ventura Interfaith Ministerial Association organized the event, galvanized in part by the recent violence against a homeless man, nearly burned alive as he slept on a city beach.

“It’s time to identify a place for a crisis center,” Christian said.

The act “horrified” Rabbi Lisa Hochberg-Miller of Temple Beth Torah.

“It violates our humanity to the core, does it not?” she asked the crowd of roughly 100.

Hochberg-Miller said in her 18 years in Ventura, she knows of thousands of hours spent on task forces and committees, heard various leaders pledging support.

She could not have imagined all these years later, “so little progress has been made.”

Organizers urged people to come to Monday night’s City Council meeting and speak up on the issue.

Sue Brinkmeyer, interim director of Lift Up Your Voice, a homeless ministry within the Unitarian Universalist Church, plans to be there.

She’ll be asking the city for a zoning change, which would required if there can be any shelter of the kind she envisions.

There are areas in the city where overnight shelters are permitted, and areas where daytime social services are permitted. But there is nowhere in the city where the two are allowed together without a use permit.

There is no year-round shelter in Ventura, only a seasonal one that opens between Dec. 1 and March 31. It opens at 6 p.m. and all who stay must leave by 6 a.m.

“Instead of turning them in to our parks and tourist centers, keeping them where we can help them get what they need” should be the goal, she said.

Brinkmeyer favors having various locations being allowed to offer such services.

As the speeches finished, the group sang of peace and of standing together for change.

Abigal Austin, 11, of Ojai, sang as her dad played as part of a guitar duo.

“I don’t think it’s fair or right to have anyone sleep on a bench or in a park,” she said. “So I stand with people who say we should try to end it.”

Monday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. at 501 Poli St.

2 horses struck, killed by vehicles west of Piru

January 29, 2015 - 9:26pm

Two horses died after being hit by vehicles Thursday night on Highway 126 just west of Piru, sending at least two people to a hospital.

The California Highway Patrol reported the crashes about 6:08 p.m. on Highway 126 near Hopper Canyon Road.

Both horses died in the crashes, the patrol reported.

Rescue crews reported one person suffered minor injuries and another suffered moderate injuries. Both people were taken to Ventura County Medical Center, officials said.

Westbound lanes of Highway 126 were still blocked at 6:50 p.m. but were reopened by 8:30 p.m., the patrol reported. Two cars were being towed away with major front-end damage, CHP said.

Responding agencies included the Fillmore Fire Department, Ventura County Fire Department and Santa Paula Fire Department.

Oxnard beats Hueneme to take over 1st

January 29, 2015 - 8:41pm

Releaguing took a sharpener to the already thin line between the best and the rest in the Pacific View League.

And no one is riding that edge, right now, better than the Oxnard High boys soccer team.

Winger Raymond Pereira finished playmaker Miguel Coronel’s cross in the 65th minute as the host Yellowjackets won by a one-goal margin for the fourth straight PVL match Thursday night, 1-0 over visiting Hueneme.

“We play these close games all the time,” first-year Oxnard coach Chris Conte said. “Every game is so close.”

The result pushed Oxnard (12-3-3, 4-1-1) into sole possession of first place, a win ahead of idle Pacifica (11-3-1, 3-1-1).

“It puts us on a good trajectory,” Conte said, “not only in league but for playoffs, too.”

Hueneme (2-4-3, 1-3-1) starts as many freshman (two) as seniors (two), after graduating 14 seniors off last year’s PVL title-winning team. But Oxnard was admittedly wary, considering the talented Vikings had won the teams’ previous meeting, 2-0, on Jan. 13.

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“We have moments when we play,” Hueneme coach Tuck Engelman said. “But sometimes we let other teams take us out of what we’re trying to do.”

Oxnard dominated much of the first half without taking advantage.

Coronel’s beautiful cross created a golden chance in the 15th minute and Arthur Morales’ back-heel set Coronel up in the 39th minute, but the finish was dragged wide.

“I was mad, but I wasn’t going to get down on myself,” Coronel said. “I was going to go harder ... It doesn’t matter how many times you miss, it matters how many times you score.”

Hueneme woke up just before halftime with a pair of impressive flurries that nearly netted the opening goal.

“It’s a game of opportunities,” Engelman said. “If you don’t take advantage of them, you don’t win.”

The momentum carried over into the second half and nearly paid off in the 52nd minute, when sophomore Erik Lopez drove a 30-yard rocket off the Oxnard crossbar.

“That was really scary,” Pereira said.

Just as a 10-minute spell of pressure hinted toward another Hueneme win, Oxnard struck in 15 minutes to play.

An Oxnard break was half-cleared, which Coronel collected along the left sideline. The senior attacker skipped past a defender and floated a near-post cross for Pereira to force home.

“I took some guy and I just chipped it,” Coronel said. “Raymond came in and just headed it in.”

Said Engelman: “It was like four waves and we only brought three on that play.”

With just five teams in the league and eight matches in league play since Camarillo’s move to the new Coastal Canyon League, the result means Oxnard will have a chance to clinch the PVL by beating second-place Pacifica next Thursday.

“We’re in a good spot,” Perreria said.​

Steps taken to control measles at Simi preschool

January 29, 2015 - 7:07pm

Public health nurses and others worked Thursday to contain a measles exposure that could involve more than 40 people at a Simi Valley preschool.

A child was diagnosed with the contagious disease earlier this week in a case linked to a Disneyland trip, according to Dr. Robert Levin, Ventura County public health officer.

Initially disclosed without details about age or the preschool on Tuesday, the case is one of eight in Ventura County.

The child attends Little Explorers Preschool Academy in Simi Valley and was there Monday and Friday, sparking concerns about exposure, Levin said.

A preschool official identified the child as a toddler now in quarantine at home. She said more than 40 people, including staff members and students, were at the preschool Monday and Friday.

She said tests confirming the illness have not been received, but the child’s symptoms and trip to Disneyland led to the measles diagnosis.

In the wake of that, public health officials administered blood tests at the school to figure out who is immune. The preschool official who asked not to be identified said 99 percent of the preschoolers and staff members previously had been vaccinated.

The official said the toddler diagnosed with the illness also had previously received the first of two doses of the vaccine. The other dose is given before children enter kindergarten.

At least one child received vaccine this week as a potential blockade to the illness, Levin said. The vaccine can protect people from the virus if used within 72 hours of the original exposure. Others were given a serum, immune globulin, that can offer protection within six days of exposure.

The preschool includes a program for infants. Four children less than a year old — too young for the vaccination — were given immune globulin.

“It will either prevent them from getting measles or make it milder,” Levin said.

Until health officials can confirm immunity, people who could have been exposed are being asked to stay at home or at the preschool.

The preschool, 5165 Cochran St., remains open to existing students and staff members.

Levin said the immune globulin and an estimated societal immunity rate of 95 percent make him think the site is safe. He also noted that it operates as a closed community, meaning outsiders have little access.

Public health officials have contacted parents and others who could have been exposed.

“It’s a highly contagious disease, so we’ve done everything we can to contain it,” Levin said. “We’re not going to know we’ve finished this until we stopped having the cases.”

As of Wednesday, 79 people in California were diagnosed with measles. More than 50 of the cases are linked to Disneyland.

A week ago in Ventura County, public health officials scrambled to contain exposures at CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo and a Citibank branch in the same city.

The Little Explorers official emphasized that no one else has shown symptoms and that parents and staff members are following public health instructions. She said there’s no reason for panic.

“Everyone is doing what they can to make sure our kids are safe,” she said.

The illness is rarely fatal but can cause complications that can put people in the hospital. It may take as long as 21 days for the virus to emerge.

Symptoms include cough, runny nose, reddened eyes and high fever. Two or three days after the first signs, tiny white spots may appear in the mouth. Then a rash can emerge, starting on the face and moving downward.

On the Net: http://www.cdc.gov/measles

D.A. clears officers in shooting of cyclist

January 29, 2015 - 6:48pm

The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office issued a report Thursday finding California Highway Patrol officers were justified when they shot and killed a Casitas Springs man in 2013 near Faria Beach.

The Jan. 5, 2013, incident involving the death of Theodore Keiper began as he rode his motorcycle along the Pacific Coast Highway. Authorities said Keiper was speeding, and an officer with the patrol tried to pull him over, but Keiper failed to yield.

Investigators said in their findings that Keiper was traveling 92 mph in a 45 mph zone.

During a pursuit, Keiper went onto Hobson Road and then onto Padre Juan Canyon Road, which passes over Highway 101 near Faria Beach and into a canyon, officials said. The chase ended after Keiper crashed down an embankment on the west side of Padre Juan Canyon Road. Investigators said Keiper and his motorcycle went down a 35-foot ravine.

Patrol officer Frank Paramo and Ronald Hensic, a patrol cadet who was with Paramo at the time, approached Keiper with their guns drawn. They said Keiper was still wearing his helmet and was standing near his damaged motorcycle. Keiper had blood on his hands but did not “appear to be seriously injured,” investigators stated in their report.

Patrol officer Michael Trenery arrived on the scene, and he and Hensic went down the embankment to handcuff Keiper and help him, the report states. Investigators said Keiper refused to keep his hands in the air and refused to get on the ground after being ordered to do so. They said Keiper turned his back toward Trenery, shouted a profanity and added, “I’m going to shoot you.”

Investigators said Keiper reached into his vest and again threatened to kill the officers.

Paramo fired five rounds at Keiper from the top of the canyon, investigators said. Three bullets hit Keiper in the upper chest and neck, investigators said. Trenery also fired at Keiper, hitting him in the abdomen, investigators said.

Keiper later was handcuffed, they said.

Investigators said officers tried to “render medical aid,” to no avail.

Paramedics pronounced Keiper, 58, dead at the scene.

Investigators said Keiper had a blood-alcohol level of 0.09 percent at the time. An autopsy showed he also had marijuana in his system, they said.

A replica gun was found near where Keiper was shot, although authorities did not directly link the replica to Keiper.

The district attorney investigates all officer-involved shootings in Ventura County.

 

On the Net:

http://www.vcdistrictattorney.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Keiper-OIS-report-FINAL-012915.pdf to read the full report.

Petrochem refinery to be removed

January 29, 2015 - 6:16pm

A closed petroleum refinery will be removed from its site north of Ventura by the end of the year, county officials announced Thursday.

Under a compliance agreement with the county, the owner-operator of the Petrochem refinery off Highway 33 has agreed to remove all equipment and machinery, Supervisor Steve Bennett said.

The work represents the last piece of the cleanup of the plant that closed decades ago, he said.

Residual liquid waste and contaminated soil have already been cleaned up under a separate enforcement action by the county and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, he said.

The owner removed storage tanks on the property while the parties were negotiating the agreement, but the machinery and large rusting pipes remain, Bennett said.

“All that will be gone by the end of the year because of the agreement,” he said.

A representative for the owner-operator could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

State park reopens after weekslong closure

January 29, 2015 - 6:11pm

During heavy rain on Dec. 12, mud and rocks flooded down steep ravines and over roads, trails and campsites. During the past several weeks, crews have cleaned up and made repairs, rebuilding stretches of fire roads that were scoured in the storm.

While the park reopened, access is limited by the adjacent Pacific Coast Highway closure. The highway also was closed because of storm damage and repairs are ongoing. Until the highway reopens, people can access the state park through Rancho Sierra Vista in Newbury Park.

La Jolla Canyon Trail will remain closed in the park because of severe damage from the storm. Park officials said rocks wiped out part of the trail, and there is no date yet for when it will be able to open.

Classic cars join Reagan Library exhibit

January 29, 2015 - 6:11pm
Cars on loan from the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles arrived at the Reagan Library to join an exhibit.

Highway 101 wildlife crossings gets $1 million

January 29, 2015 - 5:59pm

The California Coastal Conservancy on Thursday signed off on $1 million to help develop a proposed wildlife crossing on Highway 101 in Agoura Hills.

Caltrans will receive the grant funds to pay for required environmental reviews and engineering designs. It is one more step in a process that proponents hope will yield a crossing under, or over, the busy highway near Liberty Canyon Road.

Over the past 10 years, Caltrans and other agencies have sought various grants and funding for the project but have been turned down.

“It’s one of several wildlife crossing projects Caltrans is involved with in this region, but it is by far the most critical,” said Barbara Marquez, senior environmental planner with Caltrans.

The location is ideal because organizations have protected land to the north and south of the freeway, she told the Conservancy board at Ventura City Hall on Thursday.

Researchers know animals head that way to cross into the Santa Monica Mountains. But the wildlife turns back when it can’t find a route across the 101, she said..

After hearing testimony in support of the project from several residents and elected officials, the state board unanimously voted to award the grant.

“I think this is a great project,” said board chairman Douglas Bosco. “We’ve appropriated a lot of money for fish passage and other wildlife measures. But this is a very unique project.”

While the crossing would be built for all wildlife, it’s the mountain lions that have garnered much concern and attention. Surrounded by freeways, the ocean and the Oxnard Plain, researchers say the local population is isolated and too small.

The National Park Service has studied the mountain lions here for more than 12 years. Researchers have found that the inability for mountain lions to get out of or into the Santa Monica Mountains has led to inbreeding, low genetic diversity and lions killing other lions.

For the local population to survive, males have to come in from other areas with higher levels of genetic diversity. Young mountain lions also need to expand into new territories.

In October 2013, a mountain lion from out of the area was killed on the Agoura Hills highway, bringing renewed attention to the proposed wildlife crossing.

The National Wildlife Federation, which has launched a campaign to raise money for the project, applied for the Conservancy grant on Caltrans’ behalf. The work on the studies funded with the grant is expected to be finished by mid-2017.

Officials also will need to secure money to pay for final engineering designs and construction.

“For me, this is a community rallying around a project,” said Beth Pratt, California director of the Wildlife Federation.

“This has been sort of stalled for some time,” Pratt said. “Caltrans needs the seed money, the investment to get to shovel ready and to get the plans.”

Also on Thursday, the board also heard an update about Naval Base Ventura County’s efforts to prevent incompatible development around its Point Mugu site by working on habitat preservation efforts with Oxnard, The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land.

Staff writer Gretchen Wenner contributed to this report.

Ventura beauty salons burglarized

January 29, 2015 - 5:07pm

Beauty salon businesses in Ventura say they are seeing burglaries involving the theft of expensive styling shears.

Desoto Salon & Spa on North Oak Street was hit sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, said owner Armando Soto. Soto said about $7,000 worth of styling equipment was taken.

“They took scissors from everyone,” he said. “Scissors are really expensive.”

Soto said a similar incident happened at Sergio’s Hair Studio on Fir Street.

Rachael Evans, a stylist at Sergio’s, said that in August, someone broke a window, jimmied a lock, then stole shears and an iPad.

“I take my shears home every single day now,” she said, explaining that high-quality, Japanese-made shears sell for upwards of $450 and can be resold for just as much. “My guess is that they are either in the shear industry and they’re reselling them or they’re stylists,” she said.

At the Freddie B Salon & Spa on East Thompson Boulevard, an office window was broken early Jan. 23, but nothing was taken. Owner Freddie Berumen said that was the second attempted break-in at his salon since someone threw a brick through a window in late 2013. Nothing was stolen in that instance either.

“The alarm goes off and they get spooked and bail,” Berumen said. “The alarm’s done its job. It’s great that all I had to do was repair a window and didn’t have to worry about vandalism.”

In addition to the alarm, Freddie B’s has cameras and lights surrounding the building that activate at dawn and dusk, he said.

The ArchiTexture salon on Ventura Avenue had a break-in last year and the burglars took cash, not shears. But salon coordinator Nancy Cole said she’s been hearing talk about the theft of shears.

“We’ve since put in cameras,” she said.

Ventura police Sgt. Tom Higgins confirmed that police reports were filed in all of the incidents, but he was unable to find the recent DeSoto report. He said that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

“I may be looking under a different call type,” he said.

 

Local hospitals unveil ER policy on pain pills

January 29, 2015 - 5:02pm

Worried about the stream of people coming to emergency rooms in search of powerful pain pills, hospitals across Ventura County have adopted a uniform strategy to reduce abuse.

In guidelines revealed Thursday, leaders of the eight emergency rooms in the county said they won’t prescribe some opioids, including OxyContin. They also won’t provide missing doses of other drugs such as Methadone.

Hospitals will try to identify abusers by using the state database, CURES, that tracks prescriptions for controlled substances.

“I wish we would have done this five years ago,” said Dr. Marty Ehrlich of guidelines aimed at making sure all emergency rooms deal with pain medications in the same way.

“Patients will drive a long way at times to take advantage of a soft spot,” said Ehrlich, medical director of emergency medicine at Ventura County Medical Center.

The countywide effort was coordinated by the Ventura County Behavioral Health Department and a county group put together to address prescription drug abuse. At a news conference Thursday at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, emergency rooms urged the importance of balancing concerns about drug abuse with the real needs of medication for patients in pain.

“Patients come in vulnerable and in pain and still need our care,” said Dr. Carlo Reyes, assistant medical director of the emergency department at Los Robles.

But attempts at prescription misuse in emergency rooms are common.

“It’s at least an every other shift if not an every shift phenomenon,” Reyes said. He cited federal statistics showing that of every four patients who misuse prescriptions, three of them are using someone else’s prescription.

The new policy replaces a system where individual doctors made their own decisions without formalized guidelines, said Dr. Neil Canby, an ER doctor in the Community Memorial Health System.

The guidelines will be handed out to patients. In it, doctors say they won’t refill prescriptions that a patient says was lost or stolen; often won’t provide pain medication if a patient already receives the same type of medicine from another doctor; and will prescribe only limited amounts of pills through the emergency room.

“The ER is not the place to try to get 30 days worth of pain medication,” said Dr. Celia Woods, medical director of adult services at Ventura County Behavioral Health Department.

To see the new guidelines, go to http://bit.ly/1wFFEZK.

Trial delayed in Conejo child molest case

January 29, 2015 - 4:52pm

The trial of a Thousand Oaks tanning salon co-owner accused of committing lewd acts on minors was continued Thursday to March.

Gary Alan Haw, 51, appeared before Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell, but his jury trial was continued to March 26.

A grand jury indicted Haw in July 2013 on five felony counts of committing a lewd act on a child between the ages of 14 and 15. The incidents allegedly occurred from about January 2000 to January 2002.

He was also charged with one count of oral copulation of a person under 18 in an incident that allegedly took place between September 1998 and September 1999. He faces another charge of sexual battery that involved an adult victim in April 2011, and a felony count of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime during an incident in August 2012, prosecutors said.

According to prosecutors, Haw molested two teenage boys who worked at his Tan LA business on Thousand Oaks Boulevard. The two are now in their 20s, sheriff’s officials said.

Haw is out on $500,000 bail.

The Tower Club in Oxnard has a new owner

January 29, 2015 - 4:47pm

The Tower Club in Oxnard has been sold to John Zaruka, founder and CEO of the Wedgewood Wedding & Banquet Center.

The club was sold for an undisclosed sum. Its 700 members should be receiving letters this week that announce the sale.

Former owner Robert Lopez said the letters are going out and he will turn over the keys Feb. 16. He will stay for about three months to help with training.

“Nothing is going to change except the Frenchman — he is going to be leaving,” Lopez said, adding that he plans to spend time in his in hometown in the South of France.

Lopez and Zaruka have been in negotiations for six to seven months.

“Finally I gave in,” Lopez said. “After 28 years, it’s time for me to have somebody take the operation over.”

Lopez said he’s 70 and ready to end the 10-hour days, six days a week.

“I’m not getting any younger,” he said.

“Robert and I have discussed it over the years,” Zaruka said. “It was the right time.”

Zaruka is the CEO of the ZGolf Food & Beverage Service, which will be the Tower Club’s official owner. The Tower Club will continue to be its name.

Zaruka said he’s a longtime Tower Club member. He founded the Temecula-based Wedgewood Wedding & Banquet Center in Ventura and has been active in the Ventura County community for many years.

The Tower Club has been around since 1987. It’s on the 22nd floor of the Morgan Stanley building in Oxnard and boasts 360-degree views of the Oxnard Plain, Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands. It counts among its members politicians and other Ventura County leaders.

After Zaruka takes over, he plans to renovate and make cosmetic changes to the 22nd floor. He also intends to add an event site on the lawn beside the building to be used for weddings. He said a tennis court is currently in the spot he’s targeting and he’d like to convert that.

“That’s, of course, subject to approval by the landlord,” he said.

Lopez believes an “au revoir party” will happen before he leaves, and Zaruka confirmed it will.

“We’re going to do a heck of a retirement party for Robert,” he said.