County Supervisors: Santa Paula Off-site Special Meeting

By Sheryl Hamlin

The October 13, 2015 off-site special meeting of the County Board of Supervisors was held in the Council Chambers of Santa Paula to a standing room only crowd. Rich in content, the staff reports included pertinent information for the entire county. The summary minutes are here and the video is here. This is the first of several reports of the October 13, 2015 meeting.

After the presentation of the colors by Scout Troop 304 and the Pledge of Allegiance, Pastor Jenny Crosswhite of Santa Paula gave the Moment of Inspiration. Because this message was so unique and inspirational, some of the text is listed below. Watch it on video starting at 4:19.

Statement extracts by Pastor Crosswhite:

Pastor Jenny Crosswhite

Pastor Jenny Crosswhite

I like to ask questions…but I won’t make you answer….I’d like you to think about what inspired you to run (for office) … Usually one is inspired by negative or positive things like a pending natural disaster or we think about what could be… it could be a mixture of things you saw that were wrong and the things that you wanted to see for the good of your individual area and the county..Even though you have been doing it for a long time, I would encourage you to think about those things that inspired you to run, especially the positive ones… every time I see the community come together I am inspired … I am heartbroken when I see children drawing pictures about parents not around for dinner…more sad things… from the mouths of children … those are indicators…we need to invest, especially in our children…they are not just the future, but part of the present…let us not forget the people who helped us get here…none of us gets here by himself …everyone has a mentor…one of us here has a kindergarten teacher in the audience … we inspire those who come behind us.  We inspire those who are to come … may we remember what inspired us to run as we make decisions tonight….

This “Moment of Inspiration” drew a roomful of applause for Pastor Crosswhite, who is also on the Santa Paula Council. And those on the dais referred to it several times during the course of the three hour meeting.

Mayor Procter introduced his kindergarten teacher in the front row and thanked the Board of Supervisors for their unanimous support of the Santa Paula Hospital, which will be discussed in the County Health Staff report.

Public Comments

Rose Coughlin, Environmental Health and Safety Business, works for oil industry, law forms, energy businesses, said she could not believe how little press the explosion got. Kudos to Jeff Bari for his search warrants, saying it was a commendable investigation. She hopes a way for the citizens of Santa Paula to be able to monitor what is going on, particularly the conditions of the site and the contaminants.  She said it was something that was bound to happen and is concerned about the firefighters who won’t return to work. She understands the DA has an open criminal investigation. There could still be underground tanks with the same reaction. Her safety colleagues said that they hope that a terrorist doesn’t figure out what was mixed together. Hopefully the insurance will pay for this even if the defendants are found criminally liable.

Cathy Hicks, spoke about incompatible insurance practices at the Santa Paula Hospital. Since the county took over, the emergency room only takes Medical and Medicare, leaving people with other insurance options to pay out-of-network fees or go to Community Hospital in Ventura.

Note: Both Supervisor Long and the County CEO, whose child was born in the Santa Paula Hospital, said Mrs. Hicks’ concerns would be fixed.

Richard Rudman, spoke about “Working Together for Santa Paula’s Future”.  Mr. Rudman is a member of the Santa Paula Citizen’s Corps and the Citizens for Safer Santa Paula. He said: “Santa Paula has a vast unrealized travel destination potential that can add to the already legendary tourist attractions in Ventura County based on our heritage of agricultural and aeronautical milestones … We are also looking to you, the elected leadership for our County, to call for the new Ventura County Planning Commission hearings on our city’s future. We need a new direction for Santa Paula other than those suggested by the landfill on Tolland Road, jail construction and a sewage treatment facility. With all due respect, we cannot dump or incarcerate our way to a brighter future for our City.”

Sheryl Hamlin (21:50) spoke about the Puente Project, asking if the letter sent to the California Energy Commission from Supervisor Long was the opinion of Supervisor Long or was it the entire Board of Supervisors, as well as the recommendation of the Santa Paula adjacent site.

Note: Supervisor Long responded saying the letter was just from her and that she would be happy to discuss it further.

Donna Haner said her comments were addressed by the first speaker about the explosion and reiterated her concerns about culpability, oversight and prevention. How can the citizens recover financially?

Note: Supervisor Long said she would speak to this later.

Devon Cichoski, Citizens for a Safer Santa Paula, reiterated Mr. Rudman’s concerns for safety and gave the history of the Measure F Sales Tax history, saying that the vote garnered almost 60% of the voters’ approval indicating a concern for public safety.

Audrey Vincent spoke saying this is an opportunity to come before and ask questions regarding the November 14 explosion west of town on county property. Nina Renesberger, recuperating from an automobile accident, asked via Ms. VIncent: has the exact composition and combination of toxic elements been revealed. Could the severity have been circumvented if the complaints of the neighbors had been listened to and followed up on? What guarantees do we have that this will not happen again? Audrey, herself, expressed concern about the firemen. Katherine Benner (via Ms. Vincent) who lives in Santa Paula, wants to know what the chemicals were and if there is an ongoing danger to groundwater and soil? Has the area really been cleaned up?  This is in fact a farming community where we are proud of the depth of the topsoil. We would like to see industries compatible with agriculture.

Supervisor Long addressed the public comments as follows.  She said we will address tonight what we envision that will benefit Santa Paula. About Santa Clara Waste Water, it is clearly in the District Attorney’s court. All the information has been put out to the public. The county Environmental Health Department has been fully engaged. There has been some cleanup. There are unknown and known ingredients in the mixture. Certainly there is some speculation. It is not county owned property. It is privately owned. The company has been in business for over fifty years, but there are likely some “illegal actions” that took place. But until the DA comes out with a response, there is not much more to say.  Mr. Powell, the CEO, said when more information about the mixture is available we will get it out immediately. Mayor Procter said because of HIPAA rules, we have not been apprised of all problems.

Project Esperanza Receives Additional Funding

Item 18 on the agenda raised the grant to Project Esperanza to $101,500 from $51,500 and extended the term of the Agreement to two additional periods of one year each. On hand was the director of Project Esperanza, Elvia Hernandez, who spoke through an interpreter, about the services her organization provides and gave statistics of the programs. Father Charles of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, where Project Esperanza is domiciled, spoke about the project’s successes. Although the project is located at the church, it is open to anyone in the community. Laura Espinosa spoke thanking Elaine Crandall, the Director of Public Health, who was also in the audience, but said there is always room for more financing. Janice Gardner, chair of the Behavioral Health Advisory Board, spoke of the board’s visit to Project Esperanza with exceptional recommendations. Positive for Santa Paula and Project Esperanza, the additional funds and longer contract will benefit many families and children.

Two other items honored citizen work in Santa Paula. The Steckel Park renovation presentation showed before and after pictures of the aviary. The citizens stepped up and raised $80,000 and put in over 4,400 volunteer hours of labor in the renovation. Now, the park is proud to receive over 100 cars per day with over 200 people per day. The 100th Anniversary of the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce commemoration was received by Fred Robinson and Angela Brinkhoff, both Chamber staff members. Interesting tidbit mentioned: Santa Paula was the hub of business in the county 100 years ago including the film industry.


MORE TO COME: Presentations from Santa Clara River Cleanup, Ventura County Health Care, Ventura County Public Works and State Prison Realignment.  All of these staff reports were informative and detailed.


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One Response to County Supervisors: Santa Paula Off-site Special Meeting

  1. William "Bill" Hicks October 15, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Will there be any “off-site” meetings of the county supervisors in the other districts within Ventura, or is this to meet special needs of non-english speaking people?

    At project esperanza, would I have to have a translator from spanish to english to communicate my health needs?

    YEP, I’m a nativist and proud of it.


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