Mashburn leaving Youth Employment Service

This article first appeared in the Wednesday, June 7, 1989 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on Page A-3. It is reprinted here with their permission. The author is unknown.

Mashburn leaving Youth Employment Service

Arlou Mashburn, co-director of the Ojai Valley Youth Employment Service, is leaving the agency because of funding problems.

The problem came to a head earlier this week when it was learned the service’s funding request to the United Way for $18,000 would not be honored.

Instead, United Way decided to give the agency $9,500, the same as last year.

The employment service’s board of directors on Monday voted to accept Mashburn’s resignation as a cost-cutting measure. The resignation follows recommendations made by United Way.

Mashburn said her resignation is effective June 16 unless an unexpected funding source is found.

Mashburn has been with the service since the 1970s and was a longtime director.

She said one of her biggest fears is that the Ojai Valley residents may not be aware of the importance of the program to the community.

Mashburn said that not only do many young people need the money they earn on jobs provided through the agency, they need the work ethic and self esteem jobs provide.

Mashburn said she has no immediate plans for the future.

Her husband retired two years ago, but she would like to continue some form of work on a part time basis.

“I don’t think I can do for myself without doing for others,” she said.

Tim Sidoti, the other co-director of Youth Employment Service, will remain on the job.

The service makes some 1,400 job placements a year for the youth of the Ojai Valley. There is no charge to employers or job seekers for the service.

Sidoti said United Way’s low grant was unexpected.

Sidoti, who was hired in January to increase funding and recruit more young people and businesses, said he felt that the employment service has made several changes to comply with previous requests made by United Way, including the generation of funds and solicitation of help from individuals and local service organizations.

“We didn’t really expect the whole $18,000, but I really expected more than last year. I expected $12,000, or at least $10,000.”

According to Sidoti, since he took over, the agency has added five new board members, who either belong to local service organizations or are prominent business people. It has received funds from the Optimists Club and the Rotary Club and it is currently negotiating for funds from the city as well as the Lions Club. It also sent out 1,600 appeals to various businesses and private employers requesting donations.

In addition, the employment service also increased the hours it is open and has conducted a training workshop for youth on how to find work.

At Monday’s emergency meeting, the service’s board had four options — to operate with a full-time director but with no other paid staff, to have a part-time director and part-time job placement clerk, to have a part-time director with a part-time job placement clerk as needed or to close the agency’s doors.

Prior to the meeting, Sidoti had said any of the first three options would diminish the quality of service.

“Being the size of agency that we are, you have to have the personnel to put out a quality product,” he said. “I hate to use that term product, but when you are giving out that kind of expertise, it takes time and money. You just can’t do it half way. I just don’t feel it can be done half way.”


Women-of-the-Year give time, energy to help community

The following article was first printed in the WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9, 1985 edition of the “OJAI VALLEY NEWS” on Page A-1. It is reprinted here with their permission.

Women-of-the-Year give time, energy to help community
by
Brenda Loree


When the OVN news staff chose Arlou Mashburn and Carmen Robertson as its 1985 Women-of-the-year, it was without the knowledge that the two of them not only knew each other, but have been great friends for 24 years, and that, their lives have dovetailed and coincided many, many times since they met in 1961.

“When I moved to Ojai in 1961, Arlou lived across the street,” said Robertson. “The day after we moved in, the doorbell rang and there was this beautiful glossy head of hair with a coffeepot. It was her. It was my welcome to Ojai.”

AND WHEN THEY showed up for a picture-taking session together on Monday, throwing their arms over each other’s shoulders, assuming a buck and wing position and announcing themselves as “The Pit Sisters,” we weren’t sure but what they had misunderstood and thought they’d won the Ted Mack Amateur Hour.

Such high spirits are but symptomatic of high energy these two human dynamos possess. Rare is the person in Ojai Valley who hasn’t been cheered by, but more to the point, helped by, one or both of these women.

Neither stands on much ceremony. Neither holds formal office nor chairs important commissions. What they both have is heart, “miles and miles and miles of heart. “They are both such lobbyists for the Ojai Valley and its people that if they took their act to Washington, D.C., they’d be banned for undue influence.

Officially, Mashburn is the executive director of the Ojai Valley’s Youth Employment Service (YES). Officially, Robertson is the Ojai Valley representative of the Ventura County Arts Advisory Council.

IT’S WHAT THEY DO unofficially that singles them out. The two of them combined have probably driven their and everyone else’s kids in Ojai Valley enough miles on field trips to go around the world twice. They’ve both been unofficial sympathetic ears to enough teenagers (and their parents) in the valley to qualify for master’s degrees in family counseling.

Mashburn

One of Mashburn’s bosses, Ginny Barrett, member of the YES board of directors, said it best about Arlou: “She’s done so much more than what she’s paid to do, put in so many more hours, that she’s still our best volunteer.”

“When you see Arlou coming, you know you’re going to have a good time,” said the Ojai Valley native, can’t remember a time when she wasn’t working with youngsters on a volunteer basis. “Arlou and I were PTA nursery school volunteers, elementary school on up.”

Being mother of six and working almost exclusively with children on her job only makes her want to do more with youngsters.

“There aren’t enough people who like kids,” she said as she sat in her cubbyhole YES office on the grounds of Chaparral High School. “Hiam Ginott, my idol said you should give your child a way out. Don’t come down on them all the time. We’d never talk to adults the way we talk to our kids.

“I wish there was an outreach program here for the kids, something like Interface,” she mused between calls; calls from people wanting to hire someone and calls from kids wanting to be hired.

AFTER AN hour and a half of trying to squeeze an interview in between calls and visits from youngsters, it became obvious that Mashburn is her own “outreach program.” She serves as a personal counselor as much as a placement director on the job. Her manner is so disarming, so non-threatening, that monosyllabic teenagers walk in and find themselves pouring their hearts out to her.

“See how I love this job,” she beamed after effecting a particularly difficult job placement by phone, one in which everyone was happy. “Isn’t this great?”

“What I most hope to do here is maintain the reputation of Evy Foyil. She was here before me and it’s easy for me because of her example,” she said.

Mashburn will also be honored later this year when she leads the annual Independence Day parade down Ojai Avenue on the 4th of July as its Grand Marshall. Barely five feet tall, Mashburn will probably have to sit in a booster chair so her fans can see her in the back seat of the convertible. She won’t mind, because from her standpoint, it will mean she’ll have a better view of all of her friends.

Robertson

“She works for the good of the artists in this community,” said Carmen Robertson’s longtime friend Diane Volz. “She serves them; she brings the public to them. That’s her joy.”

ANYONE acquainted with Robertson has been buttonholed at one time or another to at- [missing words] there. She worked with the Presbyterian Church youth group and others.

In recent years she has worked as an aide at all levels of the Ojai school system, particularly with the special ed children. “I’m best as helping kids feel good about themselves,” she says. “If you say anything, say I stand for the dignity of children.”

Asked about her supreme accomplishment she said, “I was cleanup hitter for the Topa Topa Elementary School baseball team.”

ROBERTSON HAS very nearly lead two lives in one. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she became a child actress literally at the age of six months. For the next 26 years she worked for the likes of W.C. Fields, Bonita Granville, Jane Withers and appeared in “Our Gang” comedies. As she grew up she worked with Clark Gable, was a stand-in for Lana Turner and swam for two years in Esther Williams movies. “I spent two years under water. I also dived for Ginger Rogers. I was a good swimmer.”

Once she and her friend Diane Volz worked in the movie “Ziegfield Follies” together; they only realized it years later when they met in Ojai. Robertson was in the water and Volz was on the stage in a lavish “smoke-flame water ballet number.”

Then Robertson met and married yacht skipper Jack Robertson; they started a family and moved to Ventura County. The family grew to include Nick, Drew, Cullen, Winslow and Sydney, now all grown and all distinguished scholars in one way or another.

The day she started her family, she retired from the movie industry; the nurturing of her (and other people’s) children became her career. She and Jack resisted temptations to leave because “we wanted our family to have the Ojai way of life.”

“I came home when I came to Ojai. This is a mystical valley. I have a mystical streak and I feel better here than anyplace else.”

WE’LL TRAVEL ALONG, singin’ our song, side by side.

Hard work and no pay reward a vital job

The following article was first printed in the Wednesday, July 28, 1993 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on Page A-1.

Hard work and no pay reward a vital job
By
Mike Palmer


Needed are a few good men, any age, any occupation (even attorneys or bankers), on-call 24 hours a day, must provide their own equipment and be willing to work for no pay at all hours of the day or night.

Add to these requirements months of training, an extensive background check, the need for a unanimous vote of 20 other team members to join and you have the requirements for membership in one of Ojai’s most select groups — The Upper Ojai Team of Ventura County Search and Rescue.

According to team member Tom Farmer, “You have to be 100 percent committed. You have to be ready to instantly drop what you are doing and go out on a rescue. It takes strong family support.”

He said the hours required of team members may vary from just a few to over 100 per month depending on need.

Farmer went on eight rescues during five months and participated in many training exercises before he was voted team membership, he said.

Any team member has a veto power regarding new members as does the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

The Upper Ojai Team is composed of different occupations. Some of these include a banker (Farmer), an attorney, a medical technician, a landscaper, several ranchers, an insurance broker and numerous others. Ages vary from 20 to 70 in the Upper Ojai Team.

Although the team is currently all male, it has had female members. All are welcome that can meet the rigorous physical requirements for membership, according to Farmer.

The team’s last rescue involved an 18-year-old woman, lost while hiking in Santa Paula Canyon. The search started at 9 p.m. and she was found at 2 a.m. the next day, he said.

Lost hikers, plane crashes and missing children are the most common call-outs, according to Farmer.

Although each of the three Ventura County Search and Rescue mountain teams are somewhat autonomous, they are under the over-all direction of the sheriff’s Lt. Arv Wells in Camarillo.

All calls for search and rescue in the back country go to Wells or his assistant, and they make the decision whether to call out one of the teams.

All team members carry beepers and equipment 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Farmer said.

Wells said, “Most calls come from various watch commanders around the county.

“Our decision to respond when a person is two hours overdue, depends on many factors. The age, back country experience and weather will control if an immediate response is indicated.

“If there is any doubt, we would rather respond and cancel a search after someone shows-up, rather than wait.”

Wells supervises eight search and rescue teams and three helicopter units county-wide.

In addition to three mountain teams, there is a search dog team, an underwater team, a medical team, a mounted posse and an administrative support team.

He said the 180 volunteers who comprise the eight teams save the county $500,000 annually. Wells said most team members provide all their own equipment and devote hundreds of hours to training and rescues, all for the “self-satisfaction of helping others in adverse conditions and some times saving lives.”

Farmer said he got involved after he witnessed first-hand the many hours devoted by the team when his son, Troy, was lost in the back country last December.

Although, Troy subsequently came out without help, Farmer said, “I learned to appreciate what a victim’s family goes through. That is when I decided that I wanted to help.”

Farmer said the Upper Ojai Team is selling t-shirts to help finance the purchase of some new equipment. Shirts may be purchased for $12 at the Ojai Valley Bank, 1207 Maricopa Highway, Ojai.

UPPER OJAI SEARCH AND RESCUE team members are dropped off at the 5,000 foot elevation level northwest of Bluff Camp near Bear Haven by a sheriff’s helicopter. Team members then practiced rescue skills including rappelling off bluffs, terrain familiarization, and the use of map and compass. Ten members were dropped off in this exercise. They were Tom Farmer of Ojai, Mike Diaz of Santa Paula, Tim Gibson of Santa Paula, John Peakes of Ojai, Bill Slaughter of Ojai, Jim Wright of Santa Pauls, Chris Wilson of Santa Paula, Ron Dean of Santa Paula, Andy Hoffmeister of Ojai and Jesse Ridenour of Ojai. The 10 walked through the back country to Big Cone Camp where they were met by team members Carl Hoffmeister and Otto Reynolds, both of Ojai. Photo by Tom Farmer

Troop 504 celebrated BSA birthday with Court of Honor

This article first appeared in the Wednesday, March 10, 1999 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on Page A-6. It is reprinted here with their permission.

Troop 504 celebrated BSA birthday with Court of Honor
by
Andy Bisaccia

OVN contributor

A Court of Honor and Parents’ Night was held recently by Troop 504 to celebrate the 89th birthday of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the 92nd birthday of the world scouting movement.

The event was held in conjunction with Boy Scout Week.

The newest scout in the troop, Brian VanAken, started the ceremony by lighting 12 candles on a long candelabra while repeating the 12 points of the Scout Law.

Scoutmaster Andy Bisaccia conducted an investiture awarding the Tenderfoot Scout badge to B.J. McLeod and John Obraza. The Second Class Scout rank ceremony was convened by Tom Swetek, assistant scoutmaster, who awarded the Second Class badge to Kevin McLeod, B.J. McLeod and John Obraza.

The First Class Scout rank ceremony was convened by Lee Rosenboom, assistant scoutmaster, who awarded the First Class badge to B.J. McLeod. Bisaccia awarded two merit badges to Kevin Marshall that are required for the Eagle Scout award: Citizenship in the Community and Personal Management.

After each ceremony, miniature badges were pinned on the mothers in appreciation for the role they play in helping their sons in their scouting endeavors.

The highlight of the Court of Honor was the Star Scout rank ceremony, convened by Rick Bisaccia, assistant scoutmaster, who awarded the Star Scout badge to Kevin Marshall, which now places him on the pathway to the Eagle Scout award.

Marshall’s father pinned the badge on and Kevin awarded the miniature to his mother who wears them all on a necklace.

Then, Scoutmaster Bisaccia made the following troop and patrol promotions: B.J. McLeod, senior patrol leader; Kevin McLeod, patrol leader of the Panther Patrol; John McLeod, assistant patrol leader; Matt Harder, patrol leader of the Eagle Patrol; John Obraza, assistant patrol leader; Nathaniel Harnett, scribe; and Chad Butler, quartermaster.

One-year attendance awards were given to B.J. McLeod, Kevin Marshall, Kevin McLeod, John McLeod and Matt Harder.

The evening ended with a talk on the history and background of the scouting movement by the scoutmaster. One of the three known complete collections of the scout handbooks was put on display, including the first handbook, which came out in England in 1908.

Troop 504 is sponsored by the Ojai Rotary Club in partnership with the Ojai Unified Methodist Church and meets every Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the church hall. Boys between the ages of 11 to 17 are invited to join. Call 646-9877.


CAMPING OUT AT PINE MOUNTAIN — IN 1887 STYLE

This article was run in the JUNE 2019 issue of “THE SESPE WILD” (the newsletter of the Keep the Sespe Wild Committee). It is reprinted here with their permission. It was placed in the newsletter by Alasdair Coyne.

CAMPING OUT AT PINE MOUNTAIN — IN 1887 STYLE


In an article first published in March 1887 in The Century, a popular quarterly publication of the time, “In these pages,” writes John Hassard, “I propose telling how we lived without hardship on a remote mountain, hunting, fishing, exploring the wild places, and idling in the shade of the pines.” Excerpts follow, from this lengthy story of two months’ camping —

“We were five comrades, including one lady, and we were served by a guide, Soper, and a Chinese cook.” And, as well as their horses, they took along a cow for fresh milk!

“Our point of departure and base of supplies was the little hamlet of Nordhoff” [now Ojai].

Their route went through Matilija Canyon and thereby up to near the summit of what is now Hwy. 33, before heading up to the Pine Mountain ridge. They enjoyed a leisurely two weeks camping out in Matilija Canyon.

“The Dolly Varden trout, which is caught in these California brooks, is named from the brilliant and varied colors of its sides and belly. No special art is needed to take it; worms, flies, grasshoppers, bits of bread or of meat — it swallows them all. I think with a few accidental exceptions we had trout with every meal as long as we remained in this camp.

Farther up we afterward found still finer fishing. There was a spot on the left fork of the Matilija where the doctor and the Chinaman, resting a day on the march to the mountain, hooked trout almost as fast as they could throw their lines. Here Ah Hing performed his great exploit of catching forty-eight fish with one worm, which has always seemed to me the most remarkable illustration of Chinese thrift in my experience.”

“We spent a week on the road from our first camp to the mountain. Once we set up our tabernacle in a group of bay-trees, and made our beds of the fragrant branches. Again we halted in a copse by the Sespe River, where we caught trout of prodigious fatness.”

Arriving at Pine Mountain, they “had no water; that had to be brought from the glen, about a mile distant, the trail comprising a breakneck ascent of five hundred feet which was much worse than anything we had passed on the journey. If we had realized the full extent of the water difficulty before starting, we should have directed our expedition elsewhere; and indeed I must confess that, in many respects, Pine Mountain, as a camping place, is open to objections. I will not rehearse them all, for I am more concerned to show how one can live comfortably in camp.” They let loose their horses, which fended for themselves during their six week stay.

At their camps, their set-up was magnificent: “In the midst of our grove we set up a capacious table, which not only served us for the meals but marked a place for social gatherings. We leveled a broad platform, raised a stout awning-frame, made benches of split logs, and built on the north, or windward side, a thick screen of wattled hemlock branches, which we hung with sundry housekeeping articles, and decorated, after a while, with deer-skins, and other trophies of the chase. At one side was suspended a vessel of drinking-water; at the other was a little covered fireplace; with a flue running so far back into the hillside that smoke would not annoy us. Here we made the coffee and kept the dishes hot, while Ah Hing held undisturbed possession of the kitchen.

That department was about [10 yards] distant, in a clump of fine trees, and was nearly surrounded by a wind-screen of hemlock boughs and odd pieces of canvas. With poles, and lengths of split pine, and a few empty boxes, the cook made a dresser and a set of shelves. We had and excellent stove of sheet-iron, highly effective and easily transported. It was about three feet long, eighteen inches high, eighteen inches wide; it had no bottom, no legs, nothing that would break; the pipe telescoped and went inside; the weight of the whole was eight pounds, and the shape was convenient for packing.”

“The greatest affliction of this savage existence is dirt, and the greatest comfort is a basin of water.”

“Our party hunted [deer] in moderation. Two of them took to the woods for the benefit of their health, and those who were better able to carry a gun did not depend upon shooting for their daily amusement. They read, they sketched, they strolled about the mountain in search of the picturesque, they made excursions on horseback to various parts of the long ridge and to the valley below, they lounged and chatted in the shade. The ordinary work of the camp and construction of chairs, tables, washstands, and innumerable little conveniences gave everybody some occupation. We had a few carpenter’s tools, and they were never out of use.”

Regular pack animals came up from Ojai — “rawhide bags which hung from the pack-tree were filled with parcels of tea, coffee, sugar, small groceries, powder, shot, nails, flour, and meal, can of honey, a ham, a pail of fresh butter, a peck of potatoes, onions and whatever young vegetables could be got, and on the load were a few young fowls in a sack, a box of eggs, a box of apricots, pears, and apples and a plethoric mail-bag.”

Their camp menu is worthy of description:
“Breakfast: Oatmeal porridge of cream; deer’s liver and bacon; broiled kidneys; hot biscuits; coffee and tea.
Luncheon: Lamb chops; canned salmon; honey and cream.
Dinner: Soup; haunch of venison; mashed potatoes; pudding.” The lamb was bought from herders in the valley a few miles below.

“We paid the cook $1 a day. We paid the guide $3 a day for his own services and the use of his two horses. Reckoning supplies, wages, and the rent of the cow, the living expenses of the whole party of seven, with the 8 animals, amounted for sixty-eight days, to $562.31, which, divided among five, gives a cost of $112.46 a head. Or $2 a day. As we lived like gourmets, and made no great effort to economize, this, we thought, was doing pretty well.”

Their full adventure is at this link: httlps://yankeebabbareno.com/2012/04/18/camping-out-in california-pine-mountain-narrative-1887/

Phil Harvey: Oh, What a Beautiful Life

Phil Harvey with Sally Carless and Myrna Cambianica

This article ran on the front page of the Friday January 15, 2021 edition of the Ojai Valley News. It is reprinted here with the permission of the newspaper and reporter Perry Van Houten.

Phil Harvey: Oh, What a Beautiful Life

By Perry Van Houten

Phil Harvey with Sally Carless and Myrna Cambianica
Phil Harvey in 2014 with two of his many friends, Sally Carless (left) and Myrna Cambianica.
Photo by Sally Carless

Phil Harvey, an Ojai icon who entertained generations, passed away Jan. 5 in the valley he loved.

Harvey was 99, just four months shy of his 100th birthday.

“He enjoyed life so much, and that rubbed off on all of us,” daughter Jeannie Harvey told the Ojai Valley News Jan. 12.

Born and raised in Emporia, Kansas, Harvey’s rich show business career as a singer and actor included operas, musicals, and movie and television roles in westerns and science fiction movies.

As a contract player for Universal International Pictures, his movies included the sci-fi classics “monolith Monsters” (1957), “The Land Unknown” (1957), “The Deadly Mantis” (1957), and “The Thing that Couldn’t die” (1958).

In his late 30s, Harvey was cast in “Touch of Evil” (1958), written, directed and co-starring Orson Wells as a corrupt police chief, which includes a scene with Harvey and epic film star Charlton Heston.

While acting in Hollywood paid the bills, music and singing remained Harvey’s main professional passions, and he pursued them energetically. “He was always busy with a show or teaching music,” said Jeannie, who now lives in Idaho.

Phil and Margaret Harvey raised two other children, Babette and Jim. When the kids were grown, the couple moved permanently to Ojai. Margaret passed away in 2010.

The couple first met when she was playing piano at the Ojai Art Center and he was doing a show. Naturally, the Harvey household was a musical one. “We always had a piano in the house, and there were always sing-a-longs and musical instruments around.” Jeannie said.

When Margaret turned 70, she wanted a baby grand, so the couple purchased one and installed it in a back room of their tiny house on South Montgomery Street.

The Harvey home may have been small, but Phil is a remembered for having a big heart and a big voice.

In a rich baritone, he sang in live stage shows such as “Oklahoma!” “Showboat,” “The King and I,” “The Barber of Seville” and “Girl Crazy.”

For years, he would Perform a song to open meetings of the Ojai Retired Men’s Club. At one meeting, he sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” after first loading up on boxes of Cracker Jack at Vons. “He went and bought a whole case of them,” said Jeannie, “one box for each man.”

Harvey once led the Ojai Photography Club (which he founded in 1984) in a round of the very same song. Unimpressed by their performance, he made the group sing the song again, only with more enthusiasm, said Myrna Cambianica, a close friend and longtime club member.

In the mid-‘90s, while attending her first club meeting and wondering what camera she should buy, Cambianica consulted the photographer whose work impressed her the most. “And, of course, it was Phil. He was bigger than life and so welcoming,” she said.

Cambianica’s new mentor taught her how to mat and frame her images, which she did for Harvey when his eyesight deteriorated later in life. “It was a real sweetness he gave me, and toward the end of his life, I could give back to him,” she said. “He was always joyful; always happy. I’ve never met anyone else quite like him.”

One of Harvey’s favorite places to take pictures was Lake Casitas, where he and dear friend Sally Carless would snap photos of the bald eagles, earning him the nickname, ‘Eagle Boy.”

“He was so enthusiastic about nature and the eagles and life,” Carless said. “It was just magical to be there together, and on the day my father died I called Phil and he met me at the eagle tree.”

He received the city of Ojai’s Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award in 2003, and was named an Ojai Living Treasure in 2010.

In the early ‘80s, Harvey became music director at Ojai Presbyterian Church. He started the Ojai Community Chorus in 1987, recruiting a group of talented amateur singers.

During Ojai Summer Band concerts at Libbey Park, Harvey would open each performance with the song he’s perhaps best known for, “The Ojai Song.”

Band director Laura Denne remembers Harvey as “a real people person,” which sometimes caused her nervous moments during performances. “I would have to rein him in a bit, because he was so involved with the audience; walking around and talking to people. I was afraid he wasn’t going to come in when he was supposed to,” she said.

Harvey never tired of singing the song celebrating Ojai’s mountains, oak trees and warm summer evenings. “It was his song,” Denne said, “and I don’t know how we’re going to find somebody to replace him.”

Harvey died peacefully in his sleep, of natural, non-COVID causes, according to his family.

Jeannie Harvey hopes a memorial service or remembrance party can be held as soon as gatherings are allowed again. “We’d love to have a way for friends to get together and say thank you for what he brought to all of us,” she said.

People wanting to make donations in Harvey’s name can do so at the Ojai Art Center, Audubon, HELP of Ojai, Ojai Valley Land Conservancy or any organization that supports conservation.

Phil Harvey’s family has created a memorial webpage where visitors can leave comments and post photos at forevermissed.com/philharvey/about.

Harvey, starring as Curly in “Oklahoma!” Phil Harvey Collection
Phil Harvey performs with the Ojai Summer Band in 2019. Photo by Stephen Adams
In a 1960 production of “The Barber of Seville,” Harvey played the barber, Figaro. Phil Harvey Collection

“No action” critics challenged

The following article first appeared in the Sunday, February 19, 1978 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on Page 16. It is reprinted here with their permission.


“No action” critics challenged
————————
Our
environment
———————–
by
John E. Nelson, M.D.

This columnist is pleased to note that the Our Environment column has again stimulated a community dialogue on the crucial issue of overdevelopment in our valley.

This time the dialogue has taken the form of letters-to-the-editor from two city councilpersons who chose to speak in rebuttal of last week’s column. That column chided the council for it’s lack of activism which led to the federal government’s seizing the initiative in demanding a halt to increasing air pollution which inevitably follows overdevelopment.

Surprisingly, the author of the letter which most vigorously defended the present council’s inadequate posturings has been its most active force in the struggle to keep The Ojai’s environment both rural and healthy. He has often waged solitary battles against urbanization of Ojai’s streets and the council’s penchant for granting untimely exemptions to the building moratorium. On numerous environmental votes he has found himself to be in a minority of one.

For this reason it is difficult to understand his defense of a council which has been anything but “activist” in pursuit of environmental quality. Other towns with far less to preserve than ours have elected councils who themselves have taken the initiative in improving their environment rather than simply slowing its destruction. They have brought their imaginations to the fore in initiating such measures as litter cleanups, firm population ceiling reinforced by downsizing, tree-planting projects, container laws, bicycle path construction and limitations on driving during smoggy days.

A SECOND LETTER quoted rather dubious statistics which seem to show that the City of Ojai has grown in population by only 400 persons since 1970. Yet during the past seven years there have been 381 single-family dwellings, 113 condominium units and 135 multiple family units built here for a total of 629 new dwellings. Although a few of these are still in construction, it does seem unreasonable to assume that there have been more dwellings constructed than new arrivals to occupy them.

Based on a conservative estimate of 2.5 persons per dwelling, a more realistic figure for this town’s population increase would be 1, 572 persons in the past seven years. Too many by any standards.

From the time Socrates debated his adversaries in the streets of Athens, an unfortunate technique of argument has contaminated political discourse. Later labeled “ad hominum” by the Romans, it is a method of attacking the person who makes a point rather than answering the point itself. Experts in debate consider it a desperation maneuver with little heuristic merit.

Sadly, ad hominum agruments seem to be infiltrating the exchange of legitimate views in our town. The crucial challenge of preserving a healthy and livable environment deserves better.

FOR INSTANCE, this columnist was criticized for not regularly attending city council meetings and thereby missing the opportunities to “get the true facts.” This criticism presupposes that such facts have been available during generally obfuscatory council meetings, a questionable assertion at best. Each of us must arrange our priorities according to our talents and available time, and the four to five hours per week spent on research and preparation of this column leaves little remaining time for attendance of lengthy meetings.

This column has been virtually the only medium to offer any criticism of the city council during the past year on any issue. Yet the community response which has been generated clearly indicates that these views represent those of the majority of environmentally concerned and oft-frustrated valley residents. To remain viable, the democratic process requires vigorous and regular criticism of the humanly imperfect persons who govern us.

The entire issue once more underscores the importance of the upcoming March 7 election in which Ojai voters will have an opportunity to seat a majority of environmental activists who will aggressively pursue the public health interests of this community. This column again calls upon all concerned to keep the ongoing debate high-toned and issue oriented.

DR, JOHN NELSON

Tourists big depositors in city’s bank account

This article first appeared in the Monday, June 5, 1989 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on Page A-1. It is reprinted here with their permission. The author is unknown.

Tourists big depositors in city’s bank account

Like it or not, Ojai is a tourist town and the city is becoming more and more dependent on the taxes visitors pay.

City Manager Andy Belknap, who has prepared the tentative budget for 1989-90, said three revenue sources — property tax, sales tax and bed tax — account for 64.4 percent, or nearly two thirds, of the city’s $2,852,000 general fund.

The bed tax is tied directly to tourism and the sales tax is indirectly related.

The bed tax has become increasingly important in the past 10 years, Belknap noted.

In the 1979-80 budget, he said, it accounted for 7.5 percent of general fund revenues, but in the new fiscal year it will amount to 17.2 percent, an increase of 229 percent in a decade.

The bed tax was increased by a third in 1985 and this accounts for some of the increase, but Belknap said the figures still show more and more tourists are coming to Ojai and leaving their tax dollars behind — an anticipated $490,000 in the new fiscal year.

Sales tax figures also point to the impact of tourism on Ojai. About 25 percent of the general fund comes from the sales tax, a figure that has remained relatively constant over the years, but per capita comparisons tell a different story.

Ojai had the third highest sales tax per capita in Ventura County for the fourth quarter of 1988, according to the State Board of Equalization. Belknap noted the per capita figure for Ojai of $2,017 was exceeded only by the cities of Ventura and Thousand Oaks, both of which have regional shopping centers.

These retail centers account for much of those communities’ sales tax revenues, Belknap said, noting that Ojai lacks such a center.

And, Ojai’s annual growth rate of .64 of a percent makes it the slowest growing community in Ventura County. This, said Belknap, means that a populations shift is not accounting for the sales tax locally.

The manager said all this is a mixed blessing for Ojai. While it brings money into city coffers, it also makes the city vulnerable to economic shifts.

The tourist-based economy puts a strain on several city services. Traffic is the most obvious, according to the manager, but there are others as well.

Belknap said he would like to see Ojai approach the situation by building a large budget reserve for bad times and to diversify the local economy.

Belknap used the Oxnard city budget by way of comparison.

Oxnard’s reserves equal about 15 percent of its annual budget, while Belknap is trying to build a 30 percent reserve locally.

In terms of revenue sources, the manager noted that property, sales and bed taxes account for less than 40 percent of Oxnard’s general fund compared to roughly two-thirds in Ojai.

Belknap cited Houston as an example of a city that relied on a single-based economy. When the bottom fell out of the oil market, Houston’s economy collapsed.

The answer for Ojai is to be conservative, Belknap said, adding the city must expand it economic base and increase its reserve for bad times.

Memories of times before freeways recall life as simple, safe

The following article first appeared in the Wednesday, May 17, 1995 edition of the “Ojai Valley News” on Page A-8. It is reprinted here with their permission. The author, Lee Strohbehn, was a longtime dentist with a practice in the Ojai Valley. The photo of Dr. Storhbehn was added by the “Ojai Valley Museum”.

The Golden Years
Memories of times before freeways recall life as simple, safe
by
Lee Strohbehn

Before freeways, was it only the exuberance and vitality of spirit of young parents that drew us to downtown L.A.?

Some of the fondest memories I have are those when my wife and I took our family to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. How well I remember Richard Kiley and the Man of La Mancha at the Mark Taper Forum and Ingrid Bergman at the Amanson Theatre.

And the concerts — we were there to see Zubin Meta conduct and to hear the L.A. Phiharmonic. And afterward to take the family to dinner right there at the Music Center, or to a favorite, Edwards Steak House on Alvarado St.

Let’s do lunch
And then there were trips to the Hollywood Bowl. What a delight, to take a lunch and sit high up under the stars to listen to programs which, as a farm-bred Iowa boy, I never thought I or my family could be part.

As parents, we had a feeling of fulfillment to realize that our three children enjoyed these experiences as much as we did and that we could provide them.

Life was affordable
Admission prices at that time seemed affordable. Nor did I have the feeling the environment was unsafe, or that the drive home late at night was an ordeal.

How times change! How could I afford those adventures now for five people?

And if Edwards Steak House were still there, I wouldn’t dare take my family to a restaurant on Alvarado. Somehow to drive the freeways, especially at night, is daunting to me now.

As our family grew older and we began to rely more on local entertainment events, Frank Salazar came along and the Ventura County Symphony orchestra was born. We subscribed immediately as charter members.

How delightful it was to recognize Ojai’s Frank Roller and his violin, Dorothea Walker and her cello, and Lavonne Theriault and her drums down there among all the other Ventura County musicians. We truly felt linked to beautiful programs.

I’m one of those untalented people who knows nothing about music but enjoys it endlessly. There are times when I lose myself, when I’m oblivious to everything around me and I feel one with a composer who has struck the chords I like. I cherish those moments.

Oldies missed
I confess that I was confused when Maestro Salazar left the orchestra. I had, in a sense, matured with him musically and I must say I miss him. I understand there has been a parallel experience for those audiences who have been attending performances of the Conejo Valley Symphony Orchestra.

Now those two orchestras are undergoing further transition. The apparent objective of those behind the podiums is to produce a “World Class” orchestra by combining talent and weeding out those who do not perform to and exclusive standard. I have heard that they hope to attract excellence from outside the area.

My limited knowledge of music doesn’t allow me to discriminate the finer levels of quality. I always enjoyed Frank Roller’s violin but I seriously doubt that his talent would have allowed him to survive the judgments that must be made to seat one orchestra instead of two in Ventura County.

I love Ojai’s summer band concerts on Wednesday nights in Libbey Park. I like the sound and revel in the incomparable social ambiance.

Memories linger
I used to feel something akin to that when the Ventura County Symphony was young, especially when I could bond with Roller’s violin. Although Frank isn’t with us now, his memory still lingers and epitomizes a homegrown spirit I miss in the Orchestra.

“World Class,” if it means change in community participation, simply doesn’t mean that much to me. I’m sorry to see the Ventura County Symphony Orchestra elevated to a class conscious status beyond my ability to enjoy or afford.

Lee Strohbehn

Santa will visit homes Xmas eve

The following article first appeared in the Wednesday, December 6, 1967 edition of the “OJAI VALLEY NEWS” on page A1. The article is reprinted here with their permission.

Santa will visit homes Xmas eve

Santa Claus will be making personal visits in the Ojai Valley on Christmas Eve, according to the Ojai Valley Jaycees.

Once again, as for the past 19 years, the Ojai Valley Jaycees have persuaded Santa to visit homes in the valley between 6 and 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Entry blanks have been sent to the elementary schools and any school child, seven years of age or younger, can have Santa visit his home.

Santa will visit areas as follows: Ojai, Meiners Oaks, Ojai Highlands, Mira Monte, Skyline and Oak View.

Applications or notes to Santa must include: child’s name, age, sex, parent’s name, address and phone number, names of pets or other information that may help Santa on his visit. Send to: Santa, c / o Jaycees, P.O. Box 1057, Ojai, Calif. 93023 no later than 12:00 midnight, December 18th.

Santa will deliver gifts that parents have placed outside the front door and will present each child with a candy cane, courtesy of the Ojai Valley Jaycees.

Anyone who has a child not yet in school may obtain an entry from one of the following stations: In Ojai – Fitgerald’s, Van Dyke Travel Service, The Yellow Door, Rains, Callender’s, Cole’s Mens Shop or Hammond’s Union Service; for Mira Monte – Trudi’s Dress shop and in Oak View – Dickinson’s Family Kitchen.

Anyone wishing more information may contact Project Chairman Jim Michalopoulos at 646-2783 or Jaycee President Orville Kiso at 646-3397.