2021 RETROSPECTIVE | What we had in mind, and in our pages, of the past 12 months – VC Reporter


by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

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2021 has been a year of ups and downs. It started with a terrifying number of COVID cases and a light at the end of the tunnel as vaccines became more readily available. Schools continued to struggle with distance education and then a hybrid model, but everyone eagerly returned to campus full-time in the fall. Restaurants have reopened, closed and reopened, entertainment has moved out of cars and returned to the stage (including indoor venues), and current events have ceased to be just viruses. Local politics, climate change, amazing people and organizations and a whole collection of special issues created for a diverse collection of reporting over the course of a year at Ventura County Reporter.


Nadine Stilwell, Step-Up

Rising COVID-19 cases have put a damper on the holiday season, so we kicked off the new year with a calming story about a breathtaking outdoor destination: the remote, beautiful and wildlife-rich prairies of the Plains. by Carrizo. . . which just celebrated its 20th anniversary as a national monument on January 17, 2021. This was followed by an in-depth review of a Sacramento-based PAC that is arguing against stricter oil drilling regulations in Ventura County . Health also took center stage in January, with the profile of a local man struggling to overcome a COVID-induced stroke and our first-ever health and fitness issue.


The future development of Channel Islands Harbor and Fisherman’s Wharf in Oxnard was once again in the spotlight, as residents and city officials gathered via Zoom to discuss potential visions and wishlists for locations at the Waterside. But it was COVID-19 that continued to dominate our coverage, with investigations into home treatments for the disease and the search for effective treatment regimens. We also featured another special issue dedicated to “The Great Outdoors”, with stories about local hiking, the growing popularity of golf, snorkeling, horseback archery and more.


March is traditionally Women’s History Month, so we kicked off the month with a question-and-answer session with the Executive Director of the Museum of Ventura County, Barbara Barnard Smith, Elena Brokaw and, later, another with the Oxnard intensivist Elizabeth Babu, MD. The thorny issue of mental health care – the struggles of families facing it, the lack of local resources to deal with it, and the role of the police in a crisis – has been discussed at length, as have efforts to restore Ormond. Beach at Oxnard. . In March, we also presented the winners of our annual photo contest, with the theme “Our year of the pandemic”.


Alma Ignacio is kissed by her son, Ignacio Ixta Jr., following his release to the Ventura County Jail on April 13, 2021. Photo by Kimberly Rivers.

In 2010, Ignacio Ixta Junior of Oxnard was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Due to the relentless determination of his parents, a local investigative reporter and a volunteer legal team, this wrongful conviction was ultimately overturned and Ixta was released from prison on April 13, 2021. In April, we have devoted much of our coverage to in-depth reporting on the case, which included its history, people involved, conflicting eyewitness accounts and more. We also presented the VC Voices series, with a Q&A with Celina Zacarias from Oxnard; examined local efforts to phase out fossil fuels; and saluted the many chefs and restaurants in Ventura County with a new catering number.


The history of Ventura County took center stage in the first half of May. We looked at the agricultural heritage of the Maulhardt family, whose ancestors arrived in Ventura County over 150 years ago, and who donated 52 acres of their land to Oxnard Union High School District for the establishment of the new Del Sol high school. We also spoke with ethnohistorian Jonathan Cordero, Ph.D., who discussed the fictionalized history of the Mission Age and the effects that period had on Indians in California. Dan Curry, an Emmy Award-winning visual effects supervisor who worked on four Star trek series, came to town to give a talk for the Ventura County Chapter of the Aerospace and Defense Forum, and he discussed his long and illustrious career in a fascinating Q&A. We ended the month with a Memorial Day issue devoted to boating, biking, ziplining and other exciting summer activities.


José and Veronica Rodriguez in front of BG’s Cafe in downtown Oxnard. Photo by Luis Chavez

Fraud related to local products sold at the Certified Farmers Market was the subject of our first article in June, as we looked at how producers outside the region find ways to cheat the system. We also looked at the opportunities presented by manufactured homes, especially in areas ravaged by forest fires, and child care centers fighting for a living wage. The June 24 edition was our “People Quiz,” in which we recognized the people who made a difference and the characters who make Ventura County so special. We ended the month with a thought-provoking report on the troubling allegations of sexual abuse at the prestigious Thacher School of Ojai, which came to light following an investigation by the Los Angeles law firm. Munger, Tolles and Olson.


Permits to drill oil wells, abandoned wells and offshore oil drilling (particularly on Rincon Island) were the subject of an Eye on Climate earlier this month, followed by the need to ‘A risk mitigation plan – and the Emergency Office’s request for public contribution from the service – later in July. One of our biggest stories, however, has been the return of the Ventura Music Festival, which restarted in 2021 and brought together trombonist Aubrey Logan, Time for Three string trio and classical guitarist Andrea Roberto. At the end of the month, everything was about cocktails, with the “Shaken & Stirred” issue dedicated to our favorite bars and the fabulous cocktails served by the bartenders in Ventura County. Because, let’s face it: in July 2021, who didn’t need a refresh?


Bu and Jenny Hwang at their Wienerschnitzel restaurant in Ventura as they prepare to retire. July 30, 2021. Photo by Kimberly Rivers.

In the summer of 2021, editor Kimberly Rivers got a tip about Bu and Jenny Hwang, Korean immigrants who operated the Wienerschnitzel on Harbor Boulevard in Ventura for 30 years. They finally retired at the end of July 2021, and we tell the story of their arrival here – and how they turned your average fast food restaurant into a community center – in our August 5 issue. Also covered in August: controversy and complaints over the appointment of a harbor commissioner at Ventura Harbor, pass / no pass options for high school students and the growing popularity of the cornhole, with an in-depth look at the Throw tournament Spencer Makenzie’s Down Cornhole and Music Festival.


Melissa Baffa was appointed Executive Director of the Ventura Land Trust in the summer of 2021, and we profiled the environmental activist in our first September issue. We followed this story with a report on the return of bald eagles to Channel Islands National Park and a historical look at Ventura County through Herman Keene images obtained by the Ventura County Museum. But our grooviest edition of September was the annual Best of Ventura County issue,

A bald eagle soaring in Channel Islands National Park. Photo by Chuck Graham.

listing favorite stores, vendors, restaurants, and more as voted by our readers in 2021. We hit the dance floor in honor of all of our winners with a disco-inspired theme that was out of sight. Kimberly Rivers had the privilege of speaking with Suz Montgomery – Ventura resident, longtime community activist, local government watchdog and more – a few weeks before her death (on October 12, 2021, aged 73) , and the VCReporter posted some of their final thoughts and thoughts in our September 30th issue.


Climate change was once again in the spotlight, as we looked at the water issues in the Ventura County watershed, the chilling prospect of everything drying up, and the changes we can now make to address it. protect it for the future. The story of the US Pony Club saw a fun and inspiring change of pace on October 14, while our October 21 issue on women focused on local women making waves in Ventura County. Coverage in October appropriately ended with Halloween, with an interview with Reign of Terror Haunted House creator Bruce Stanton.

The city of Oxnard’s cultural and community services department organized the construction of a 6-foot-high La Catrina, which stood above a large altar offrenda on November 1 and 2 on the steps from the Carnegie Art Museum. The public was invited to bring personal items to display on the steps. The objects have now been moved indoors, where the public can see them through windows. Photo of Oxnard Mayor John C. Zaragoza, used with permission.


Día de los Muertos will take place on November 1 and 2. In 2021, many organizations celebrated this holiday over the weekend of November 5. So we started the month of November with an in-depth look at the Day of the Dead, its roots, its importance to the Latinx community, and the local celebrations in our month of November. .4 number. The ecological impact of beavers in California – particularly on the central coast – has also been studied. Community activists and industry leaders opposed the proposed reopening of a Santa Paula wastewater treatment facility, while VIP Dog Teams was featured on settlement dogs therapy.


We returned to the Channel Islands for a story about the circumnavigation of San Miguel Island, the westernmost island in the national park and a haven for sea lions and seals. We also featured our 2021 Ventura County Holiday Gift Guide, followed by a Last Minute Gift Guide. and a bunch of local sources for fabulous freebies curated by the staff at VCReporter. Also covered in December: a roundup of holiday entertainment, the impact of the drought on local beekeepers and honey production, and a profile of Terry Pendleton, whose long and distinguished career in Major League Baseball. (first with the St. Louis Cardinals, later with the Atlanta Braves) began playing ball with others in the Colonia neighborhood of Oxnard.

Despite a global pandemic that has still not gone away, a moving economy and a political climate that remains divided, we have weathered the worst of the (current) storm. At least I like to think so. We have been tested, but we still hold on, and I have no doubts that we can continue, no matter what the future holds. #VenturaCountyStrong – now and forever. That’s until 2022.


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