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Surfer injured at Silver Strand

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 16, 2014 - 3:57pm

A surfer injured Tuesday along Silver Strand beach near Oxnard was taken to St. John's Regional Medical Center, authorities said.

The 46-year-old man was surfing when a wave hit him, forcing him down into the sand and injuring his neck, said Gary Sugich, a battalion chief with the Oxnard Fire Department.

Sugich said the man was already on the beach by the time paramedics arrived shortly after 9 a.m.

"We're not sure how he got to the beach," Sugich said, "but he was able to walk."

The incident occurred off the beach near Eagle Rock Avenue and Ocean Drive, Sugich said.

Senior driving class, lunch and other events set

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 16, 2014 - 3:41pm

Camarillo

Senior center offers various programs

The Pleasant Valley Senior Center will offer a variety of programs at 1605 E. Burnley St.:

Bingo is open to adults 18 and older from 3-6 p.m. Mondays.

Game time from 9 a.m. to noon Fridays features pinochle, chess, backgammon, Scrabble, cards and other games. Mahjong is played at noon Thursdays.

A walking club meets from 8:50-10 a.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.

A yoga class meets from 9-10 a.m. Wednesday and Fridays.

Call 482-4881 for more information.

Moorpark

Class to provide insurance discounts

An AARP Smart Driver Program will be offered from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday.

Cost is $15 for AARP members and $20 for nonmembers. Qualified course graduates age 50 and up may qualify for a discount on auto insurance premiums.

Reservations are required. Call 517-6261 to reserve a spot.

Santa Paula

Christmas luncheon scheduled today

The Santa Paula Senior Center will host a Christmas luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at 530 W. Main St.

Guests can bring a toy for the Santa Paula Christmas Program. There will be a raffle and photos with Santa.

Cost is a suggested donation of $3 for those 60 and older or a new toy to donate. Call 933-4226, ext. 356, for reservations.

Thousand Oaks

Vendors welcome for Wellness Fest

Conejo Senior Volunteer Program will host its first Wellness Fest from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road.

Health- and wellness-related exhibitors and community-services representatives are welcome to participate.

Admission is free. Email csvp@crpd.org or call 381-2742 for more information.

 

Toy drive, coat program underway in county

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 16, 2014 - 3:38pm

Malibu

Public invited to tour house, pier

The Adamson House and Pier will be decked out in vintage style, reflecting a 1930s heritage for the holidays, for tours on Sunday and Dec. 28 at 23200 Pacific Coast Highway.

The holiday tours include docent-led visits to the house, special exhibits of the family’s memorabilia, live holiday music and more.

The tour cost is $25 for adults and $10 for children ages 6-17. It’s free for children age 5 and under. Email ah.events@parks.ca.gov or leave a message at 310-456-8432 to make reservations.

Simi Valley

Sponsors sought for police gala

The Simi Valley Police Foundation will hold its 16th annual dinner gala March 14 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, 40 Presidential Drive.

Sponsors are being sought for the event. The foundation welcomes participation by community members and local businesses.

Visit http://www.svpf.org or call 855-478-7300 for sponsorship information or to buy tickets.

Ventura County

Fellowship program open to instructors

CSU Channel Islands invites faculty members from Moorpark College, Oxnard College, Ventura College, Santa Barbara City College and CSU Channel Islands to submit applications for a highly innovative faculty fellowship program that brings together faculty members to focus on transfer-student success from a regional approach.

The 2014-15 Cross-Institutional Learning Community Faculty Fellows Program provides opportunities for faculty members from each campus to participate in learning communities offered through the Regional Teaching and Learning Academy.

The application period closes at midnight Jan. 23. Email cilc.fellows@csuci.edu, or contact Amanda Quintero at amanda.quintero@csuci.edu or 437-3285 to apply or learn more.

Toys welcome for foster children

Ventura County Children and Family Services will have a holiday toy drive and holiday toy store to provide holiday cheer for children in need.

The drive runs through Sunday.

Foster VC Kids, Children Services Auxiliary and GOCARE support the drive.

The public can donate unwrapped toys and other gifts at all Ventura County Fire Department stations. Gifts also can be dropped off from noon to 8 p.m. at The Oaks mall, 350 W. Hillcrest Drive in Thousand Oaks, noon to 9 p.m. at Pacific View mall, 3301 E. Main St., in Ventura, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Children and Family Services office, 4651 Telephone Road in Ventura.

Call 654-3245 for more information.

Rotary Club collects coats for needy kids

Ventura Rotary’s Coats for Kids program welcomes the public to donate used coats, jackets and heavy sweatshirts at more than 50 area business, school and office locations.

Visit bit.ly/Coats4kids or http://www.venturarotary.org to find a donation location. Call Kristin Taylor at 643-3800 for more information.

Authorities rescue man after 30-foot fall

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 16, 2014 - 3:06pm

Ventura County firefighters rescued a man who fell off a bridge Tuesday morning in Somis.

Initial reports said the man was a 29-year-old railroad worker who fell about 30 feet onto concrete. The call came in at 9:37 a.m., and county fire units responded to Los Angeles Avenue and Sand Canyon Road.

The man was extricated and taken to Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks at 10:43 a.m., authorities said. Further details, including his condition, were not available Tuesday.

Deadline Lures Millions to HealthCare.gov

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 16, 2014 - 3:03pm
Federal officials said that HealthCare.gov largely held up during a key sign-up deadline despite some stumbles.

Authorities identify Oxnard man fatally shot

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 16, 2014 - 2:57pm

The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office released the name Tuesday of an Oxnard man who was found shot to death early Sunday.

Jose Sainz, 31, was found fatally wounded about 2:35 a.m. Sunday in the 4400 block of South G Street in Oxnard, authorities said. Paramedics unsuccessfully tried to revive Sainz. Sainz died of multiple gunshot wounds, the coroner’s office said.

It was the ninth homicide in Oxnard this year. No arrests had been made as of Tuesday.

The city of Oxnard offers up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects in homicide cases. Anyone with information should call Detective Jeff Kay at 385-7763 or Ventura County Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-222-8477.

Authorities identify Oxnard man fatally shot

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 16, 2014 - 2:57pm

The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office released the name Tuesday of an Oxnard man who was found shot to death early Sunday.

Jose Sainz, 31, was found fatally wounded about 2:35 a.m. Sunday in the 4400 block of South G Street in Oxnard, authorities said. Paramedics unsuccessfully tried to revive Sainz. Sainz died of multiple gunshot wounds, the coroner’s office said.

It was the ninth homicide in Oxnard this year. No arrests had been made as of Tuesday.

The city of Oxnard offers up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects in homicide cases. Anyone with information should call Detective Jeff Kay at 385-7763 or Ventura County Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-222-8477.

Surfer injured at Silver Strand

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 16, 2014 - 2:57pm

A surfer injured Tuesday along Silver Strand beach near Oxnard was taken to St. John’s Regional Medical Center, authorities said.

The 46-year-old man was surfing when a wave hit him, forcing him down into the sand and injuring his neck, said Gary Sugich, a battalion chief with the Oxnard Fire Department.

Sugich said the man was already on the beach by the time paramedics arrived shortly after 9 a.m.

“We’re not sure how he got to the beach,” Sugich said, “but he was able to walk.”

The incident occurred off the beach near Eagle Rock Avenue and Ocean Drive, Sugich said.

Senate Confirms Saldaña as Top Immigration Official

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 16, 2014 - 2:48pm
The U.S. Senate confirmed Sarah Saldaña to be a top immigration official in the Homeland Security Department.

Santa Paula council looks at budget and labor

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 16, 2014 - 2:33pm

Santa Paula’s newly reorganized City Council held its first regular meeting at City Hall Monday, broaching topics likely to reign large in the coming months: labor negotiations and budgeting.

Among its first decisions, the council opted 4-1 against hiring an outside negotiator to handle upcoming labor negotiations with city employees, choosing instead to let city staff handle the discussions. Councilman Jim Tovias supported the proposed outside hire.

The city is set to open negotiations over contracts with all of its labor unions in January, said City manager Jaime Fontes. Past negotiations have always been handled by city staff, but concerns brought up under the previous council about the process prompted the idea of hiring outside help, the city manager said.

Representatives for the city’s firefighters and service workers spoke out against the idea Monday, however, arguing that hiring an outsider would be an unnecessary expense. The proposal called for spending $30,000.

Several council members seemed to agree. Councilwoman Ginger Gherardi, one of three new council members, said it was too early in the council’s term to start changing how the city conducts negotiations.

“It seems that it might be premature since the majority of us have not been here through the process of those negotiations,” she said. “If we continue to have problems, (we can) reassess what we’re looking at. But at this point it seems to me we need to let staff handle that.”

The council also heard a presentation on budgeting, the city’s 2014-2015 budget, historical trends and future fiscal outlook from Thomas Gardner, a former Ventura finance director and Santa Paula’s current financial consultant.

Gardner provided a mostly academic overview of budgeting in general, the city’s revenue sources and expenditures. He pointed out the city’s reliance on property and sales taxes, which make up two-thirds of the city’s revenues. He also noted that the police and fire department make up the bulk of the city’s annual expenses, accounting for over 60 percent of the budget.

Although city revenues are improving, Gardner cautioned the council to be wary of pitfalls many cities encountered during the recession. These include not planning adequately to ensure funding for city programs is secure in the long term, using one-time moneys to balance deficits or fund staff, and skimping on infrastructure and maintenance needs to pay for labor costs. He said the city will likely have to spend more on infrastructure and maintenance in the next five years because those investments were put off during the recession.

Fontes noted that the city’s current budget leaves little room for discretionary spending if unexpected needs or expenses come up, and said the issue needs to be addressed. The council is due to receive a midyear budget update at the end of February, he said.

Gherardi said she also hopes citizens will get a chance to give their input on the budget and what they believe should be priorities for Santa Paula at public workshops planned for early next year. Fontes said council will discuss plans for the workshops at its next meeting.

In other business, the council agreed to authorize Fontes to hire a Spanish-language interpreter for the public workshops expected next year. A discussion on whether to provide translation services at all of the city’s council meetings will be taken up at a later date, the council decided.

Also at Monday’s meeting, representatives from city and county agencies provided a presentation to council on the response to the chemical explosion at the Santa Clara Waste Water Co. in November.

Santa Paula council looks at budget and labor

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 16, 2014 - 2:33pm

Santa Paula’s newly reorganized City Council held its first regular meeting at City Hall Monday, broaching topics likely to reign large in the coming months: labor negotiations and budgeting.

Among its first decisions, the council opted 4-1 against hiring an outside negotiator to handle upcoming labor negotiations with city employees, choosing instead to let city staff handle the discussions. Councilman Jim Tovias supported the proposed outside hire.

The city is set to open negotiations over contracts with all of its labor unions in January, said City manager Jaime Fontes. Past negotiations have always been handled by city staff, but concerns brought up under the previous council about the process prompted the idea of hiring outside help, the city manager said.

Representatives for the city’s firefighters and service workers spoke out against the idea Monday, however, arguing that hiring an outsider would be an unnecessary expense. The proposal called for spending $30,000.

Several council members seemed to agree. Councilwoman Ginger Gherardi, one of three new council members, said it was too early in the council’s term to start changing how the city conducts negotiations.

“It seems that it might be premature since the majority of us have not been here through the process of those negotiations,” she said. “If we continue to have problems, (we can) reassess what we’re looking at. But at this point it seems to me we need to let staff handle that.”

The council also heard a presentation on budgeting, the city’s 2014-2015 budget, historical trends and future fiscal outlook from Thomas Gardner, a former Ventura finance director and Santa Paula’s current financial consultant.

Gardner provided a mostly academic overview of budgeting in general, the city’s revenue sources and expenditures. He pointed out the city’s reliance on property and sales taxes, which make up two-thirds of the city’s revenues. He also noted that the police and fire department make up the bulk of the city’s annual expenses, accounting for over 60 percent of the budget.

Although city revenues are improving, Gardner cautioned the council to be wary of pitfalls many cities encountered during the recession. These include not planning adequately to ensure funding for city programs is secure in the long term, using one-time moneys to balance deficits or fund staff, and skimping on infrastructure and maintenance needs to pay for labor costs. He said the city will likely have to spend more on infrastructure and maintenance in the next five years because those investments were put off during the recession.

Fontes noted that the city’s current budget leaves little room for discretionary spending if unexpected needs or expenses come up, and said the issue needs to be addressed. The council is due to receive a midyear budget update at the end of February, he said.

Gherardi said she also hopes citizens will get a chance to give their input on the budget and what they believe should be priorities for Santa Paula at public workshops planned for early next year. Fontes said council will discuss plans for the workshops at its next meeting.

In other business, the council agreed to authorize Fontes to hire a Spanish-language interpreter for the public workshops expected next year. A discussion on whether to provide translation services at all of the city’s council meetings will be taken up at a later date, the council decided.

Also at Monday’s meeting, representatives from city and county agencies provided a presentation to council on the response to the chemical explosion at the Santa Clara Waste Water Co. in November.

Thousand Oaks vet among magazine's 'sexiest'

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 16, 2014 - 2:25pm

Thor actor Chris Hemsworth might have looked chiseled and dreamy on the cover of People Magazine as the sexiest man alive, but could he wrestle a crocodile?

Thumb through the rest of that Dec. 1 issue and you’ll find a Thousand Oaks resident who can do just that.

Dr. Evan Antin, 30, one of six doctors at the Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital, earned some bragging rights when the celebrity magazine named him “sexiest beast charmer.” Mixed in with hunky photos of actors Idris Elba and Bradley Cooper is a picture of Antin holding down a crocodile, biceps flexed.

The Kansas native was chasing animals in a Guatemalan jungle when the magazine came out.

“My mom e-mailed me saying how stoked she was,” Antin said. “She was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so excited,’ exclamation, exclamation, exclamation.”

His fiancee thought it was hilarious and clipped the photo to tape to her desk at work. His clients at the hospital want to pose for a photo with him.

“It’s so cool I work with him and he’s in a national magazine,” said Desiree Bernarducci, a veterinary assistant. “What a small world. Of all the veterinarians, he’s in that magazine.”

Antin is not quite sure how he got People’s attention. Someone from the magazine e-mailed asking for some photos to be used for a “men at work” series for the sexiest man alive issue. Antin sent several photos and later was deemed “sexiest beast charmer.”

A typical day at the Thousand Oaks hospital for Antin might start with a golden retriever with an ear infection and end 12 patients later with a python bothered by a funny-sounding cough. It was on this day that Antin had to break the news over lunch that a client’s aging cat had cancer.

A self-described dinosaur nerd, Antin grew up turning over rocks hoping to find a cool snake. The fascination led to rattlesnake research in college and specializing in exotic animal medicine in veterinary school. Antin spent several semesters abroad in Australia and Tanzania.

“My primary goal was getting into the jungle and immersing myself in wildlife,” said Antin.

At home Antin cares for a cat, dog, lizard, snake and fish. At work, he mostly sees common household pets, but wolves, lemurs, tortoises and toucans have also crossed his path.

His favorite animal is the slithering kind, like that green tree python with a strange cough.

Some of Antin’s snake stories impressed Todd Hughes, owner of the veterinary hospital who interviewed Antin for the job when he was fresh out of vet school. Hughes was always proud to tell his story about a boa constrictor until Antin started telling even more impressive stories while traveling six continents.

Once, a cobra spat out venom and got Antin in the face. It was captured on video and can be viewed on Antin’s YouTube channel.

It was an experience that would have scared off any experienced animal handler, but Antin is still enamored by snakes. He thinks they have a bad reputation.

“They’re not cuddly or furry,” he said. “They’re misunderstood.”

Thousand Oaks vet among magazine's 'sexiest'

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 16, 2014 - 2:25pm

Thor actor Chris Hemsworth might have looked chiseled and dreamy on the cover of People Magazine as the sexiest man alive, but could he wrestle a crocodile?

Thumb through the rest of that Dec. 1 issue and you’ll find a Thousand Oaks resident who can do just that.

Dr. Evan Antin, 30, one of six doctors at the Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital, earned some bragging rights when the celebrity magazine named him “sexiest beast charmer.” Mixed in with hunky photos of actors Idris Elba and Bradley Cooper is a picture of Antin holding down a crocodile, biceps flexed.

The Kansas native was chasing animals in a Guatemalan jungle when the magazine came out.

“My mom e-mailed me saying how stoked she was,” Antin said. “She was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so excited,’ exclamation, exclamation, exclamation.”

His fiancee thought it was hilarious and clipped the photo to tape to her desk at work. His clients at the hospital want to pose for a photo with him.

“It’s so cool I work with him and he’s in a national magazine,” said Desiree Bernarducci, a veterinary assistant. “What a small world. Of all the veterinarians, he’s in that magazine.”

Antin is not quite sure how he got People’s attention. Someone from the magazine e-mailed asking for some photos to be used for a “men at work” series for the sexiest man alive issue. Antin sent several photos and later was deemed “sexiest beast charmer.”

A typical day at the Thousand Oaks hospital for Antin might start with a golden retriever with an ear infection and end 12 patients later with a python bothered by a funny-sounding cough. It was on this day that Antin had to break the news over lunch that a client’s aging cat had cancer.

A self-described dinosaur nerd, Antin grew up turning over rocks hoping to find a cool snake. The fascination led to rattlesnake research in college and specializing in exotic animal medicine in veterinary school. Antin spent several semesters abroad in Australia and Tanzania.

“My primary goal was getting into the jungle and immersing myself in wildlife,” said Antin.

At home Antin cares for a cat, dog, lizard, snake and fish. At work, he mostly sees common household pets, but wolves, lemurs, tortoises and toucans have also crossed his path.

His favorite animal is the slithering kind, like that green tree python with a strange cough.

Some of Antin’s snake stories impressed Todd Hughes, owner of the veterinary hospital who interviewed Antin for the job when he was fresh out of vet school. Hughes was always proud to tell his story about a boa constrictor until Antin started telling even more impressive stories while traveling six continents.

Once, a cobra spat out venom and got Antin in the face. It was captured on video and can be viewed on Antin’s YouTube channel.

It was an experience that would have scared off any experienced animal handler, but Antin is still enamored by snakes. He thinks they have a bad reputation.

“They’re not cuddly or furry,” he said. “They’re misunderstood.”

Teen Who Said He Made Millions on Wall Street Admits to Hoax

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 16, 2014 - 2:12pm
New York Magazine, which ran a story about the 17-year-old high schooler, said it was “duped.”

Books of The Times: ‘El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth,’ by Geoffrey Baker

NY Times Books - December 16, 2014 - 2:11pm
For Geoffrey Baker, author of “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth,” the program that produced the conductor Gustavo Dudamel operates in a “climate of fear.”






Restaurant review: Old School Sandwiches & Salad

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 16, 2014 - 2:02pm

Old School Sandwiches & Salads in Simi Valley selected its name to reflect the homemade character of its food, not as a turn-back-the-clock statement. It’s all seasoned with a bit of whimsy, with one of the posted signs telling diners that “unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten.”

OLD SCHOOL SANDWICHES & SALADS

Location: 1464 Madera Road, Suite E, Simi Valley. 842-1447; oldschoolsandwichesandcatering.com.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Impressions: Quaintly decorated for old-school effect; order-at-the-counter, served to table; original-recipe hot and cold sandwiches, and hearty, healthy salads.

What’s hot: Chicken Scratch and No Bull Roast Beef cold sandwiches; Ma, Where’s the Meatloaf hot sandwich; broccoli salad.

The hearty little eatery hews to the quality and simplicity of cooking its own meats and trimming them for sandwiches, preparing salads and vegetables with the freshest ingredients, and basically paying attention to health as well as flavor. Owner Kristina McClue comes from a restaurant family, with some of her mother Linda Comella’s recipes enlivening the menu.

To read more restaurant reviews, click here

We tried two versions of the Two-fer One ($8.25) combinations that team a sandwich — either a cold one or the hot Triple Threat grilled cheese sandwich featuring havarti, jack and Gouda — with a soup or salad. The No Bull Roast Beef half sandwich we chose was piled high with very good roast beef, perfectly trimmed, with romaine greens, hand-chopped tomatoes, red onions, dill pickles and mayo on a handmade artisan roll. The house Italian dressing offered the final flavor boost. With it came a half-cup of one of the day’s two just-made soups, a thick green pea soup.

Our other Two-fer featured a half Chicken Scratch sandwich, featuring a delightful mix of freshly cooked and pulled-by-hand chicken breast combined with cashews, dried cranberries, golden sultans, celery, green onion and skinny mayo. It was an outstanding combination, further enhanced by the crisp-toasted whole wheat bread on which it was served. With that was ordered a half broccoli salad, which brings together the very unusual pairing of broccoli, purple grapes, bacon, sunflower seeds and raisins, lapped in a sweet dressing. It’s a hearty salad.

On the hot sandwich side I couldn’t resist the Ma, Where the Meatloaf? sandwich ($8.25). Ma obviously knows what she’s doing when it comes to meatloaf, which was tender and gently flavored. It came on a toasted artisan roll and was topped with melted havarti and caramelized onion. A “sweet and savory” glaze, something like a zesty ketchup, completed the treat. A side of the day’s chicken noodle soup proved to be a gentle treat. Neither of the soups were the least bit salty.

We sipped the homemade lemonade, which actually tastes like lemonade. Sodas, unsweetened ice tea and flavored sweet teas are also available.

Desserts are lemon bars and Dream Bars, each a reasonable $1.50. We had the latter, very sweet bars that featured white chocolate chips, cranberries and coconut. They’re good for sharing.

Also on the cold sandwich list are such items as farm-fresh turkey, prepared in-house; Papa Marty’s Italian-style combo with imported Genoa salami, spicy capicola and provolone; Oink and Cheese, otherwise known as ham and cheese; a veggie “Wrap Me Up Healthy”; Hook and Line (tuna salad); and Fly the Coop (egg salad with “Mom’s secret seasonings). Salads include those with turkey, roast beef and blue cheese, chopped combos, spinach, pasta or slaw. Hot sandwiches sound as enticing as the cold, and that’s saying something.

Old School does takeout, of course, and substantial catering. Best of all for those who order at the counter and eat there, it provides “not fast food” but “good quality food as fast as we can.”

Rita Moran visits restaurants unannounced and pays for her food. If you know of a new, unusual or just plain good restaurant, contact her at rita.j.moran@gmail.com.

Simi Valley mayor and councilmen sworn in

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 16, 2014 - 2:01pm
Simi Valley Mayor Bob Huber and councilmen Glen Becerra and Mike Judge were sworn in for new terms at Monday night's City Council meeting.   The three won re-election in the city's Nov. 4 election.

Huber was re-elected to his third, two-year term. Becerra was re-elected to his fifth, four-year term. Judge was re-elected to his second, four-year term.   The three were sworn in by Ventura County Superior Court Judge Henry Walsh.   Councilman Steve Sojka was appointed mayor pro tem for the next year. As such, Sojka will fill in for Huber at council meetings and other city functions if Huber is absent. Sojka faces re-election in 2016.   In related council business, Huber re-appointed his planning commissioner, Scott Santino, for the next two years. Becerra and Judge re-appointed their planning commissioners, Mary Bibb and Ken Rice, for the next four years.   The council also approved its individual members' appointments to a long list of boards, commissions and committees including the Ventura County Transportation Commission (Sojka); the Ventura Council of Governments (Huber and alternate Becerra); and the Association of Ventura County Cities (Huber and alternate Judge).

Ojai appoints new finance director

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 16, 2014 - 1:56pm

Ojai has hired Rudolf Livingston as its finance director to succeed Susie Mears, who is retiring this month, Ojai City Manager Robert Clark announced Tuesday.

Livingston is currently assistant finance director for the city of Ventura. He and his wife have lived in Ojai for the past 10 years, according to Clark.

“I am extremely happy to find someone with Rudy’s talent and experience right here in Ojai,” Clark said in a statement. “His dedication to this community was a big factor in his decision to join our team.”

Livingston graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and previously was an accounting manager for the city of Santa Barbara, Ojai officials noted.

“I am really excited to have the opportunity to use my talents and experience to benefit my city,” Livingston said in the city’s news release. “It really is a rare opportunity to be the finance director where I live and I look forward to being able to make a difference in Ojai.”

Ojai appoints new finance director

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 16, 2014 - 1:56pm

Ojai has hired Rudolf Livingston as its finance director to succeed Susie Mears, who is retiring this month, Ojai City Manager Robert Clark announced Tuesday.

Livingston is currently assistant finance director for the city of Ventura. He and his wife have lived in Ojai for the past 10 years, according to Clark.

“I am extremely happy to find someone with Rudy’s talent and experience right here in Ojai,” Clark said in a statement. “His dedication to this community was a big factor in his decision to join our team.”

Livingston graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and previously was an accounting manager for the city of Santa Barbara, Ojai officials noted.

“I am really excited to have the opportunity to use my talents and experience to benefit my city,” Livingston said in the city’s news release. “It really is a rare opportunity to be the finance director where I live and I look forward to being able to make a difference in Ojai.”

Rain could spell trouble for water conservation

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 16, 2014 - 1:47pm

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After California's driest three years on record, there have been few sounds as disturbing to water conservationists as the whisk-whisk-whisk of automatic lawn sprinklers kicking on directly behind TV reporters covering some of the state's first heavy downpours in years.

Recent storms eased the drought somewhat, but there's a long way to go. And state officials are worried that the rain will give people an excuse to abandon the already inconsistent conservation efforts adopted to deal with the dry spell.

When Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in January, he asked people to cut water use by 20 percent. Instead, many Californians' water use actually went up for a while. Dozens of communities called for mandatory water cuts but lacked the means to enforce them. So lawn watering, golf course maintenance and curbside car washes went on without interruption.

State officials and weather experts say it's too early to know if the storms are the beginning of the end of the drought. They pledge to keep promoting conservation.

"A deluge like this makes us feel, 'Oh, my God, it must be over,'" said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the state Water Resources Control Board, which instituted monthly water-use reporting this year to bring home to Californians how much water they were using.

But "we are in a really deep hole ... and we have to act like we are in the drought of our lives." She said officials will "keep working on it even after the drought because there's going to be another one around the bend."

The water board found last month that some well-off Southern California communities were still using more than 500 gallons per person a day — 10 times the amount used by some poorer cities. Marcus and others pledged to step up education efforts.

Climatologist Bill Patzert, a drought expert at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, rose at 3 a.m. last week to bask in the sound of rain from the first big storm to roll through Southern California in a long time. By dawn, he was glowering at television reports showing water-wasting automatic sprinklers whirring in the rain behind at the scene of mudslides and floods.

"Tell them to turn off their damn sprinklers for a week. Tell them I said so," Patzert said. "We're still in a drought."

The biggest storm so far this season brought up to 5 inches of rain last Thursday to Southern California, 8 inches in Northern California and 6 feet of snow in the higher Sierras. Sierra snowpack surged, from just 24 percent of average at the start of December to 48 percent of normal on Tuesday, according to the Department of Water Resources.

The snow in the Sierras is all-important, providing the water supply for more than half of California, said Roger Bales, an expert in hydrology at the University of California-Merced.

He is one of many experts trying to spread the message that one or two rains don't end a drought. The key part of the rainy season — January, February and March — still lies ahead, Bales said.

"It's too early in the season to predict we're going to have a wet, average, or dry year. Anything could happen," he said.

This past summer, an estimated $2.2 billion in annual economic losses from lack of rain helped persuade state lawmakers to begin ending unregulated pumping of vital underground aquifers. California was one of the last states in the county that still allowed it. In the fall, voters approved $7.5 billion for water conservation and storage.

But individuals did not show as much commitment. Residents managed peak cuts of 11.6 percent in water use over the summer, but backslid to 6.7 percent in the fall.

California would need 11 trillion gallons of water to replenish its natural water stores, according to a projection this week from scientists using satellite data to analyze snowpack and groundwater.

"It takes years to get into a drought of this severity, and it will likely take many more big storms, and years, to crawl out of it," Jay Famiglietti, another researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement.

Even so, Fresno County farmer Paul Betancourt was feeling pretty good as he drove this week to his recently planted winter wheat fields. With just 3.3 inches of rain falling on his crop last year, Betancourt was forced to spend $40,000 expanding wells for his 756 acres. Using groundwater to water his fields left white rings of salt in the soil.

With 2.7 inches falling already this winter, that salt is starting to wash away.

"Big improvement on last year," Betancourt said. "Driving, it just looks much fresher. We had to order rain suits."

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