Ventura Music Festival Season Kicks Off With Tribute
Former Ventura Mayors Jim Monahan and Mike Tracy shared in the Cabaret celebration - in the photo at left and in the top photo, featuring, from left, Patty, Jim and Lynn Harrison, Linda and Mike Tracy and Glenda and Jim Monahan. In the bottom photo, happy honoree Betsy Blanchard Chess smiled for the camera.
The Ventura Music Festival's 25th anniversary Cabaret was a joyous evening of playing music and paying tribute to those who support the arts in our community.
The first major event of the Ventura Music Festival's 2019 season, the Cabaret took place on April 11 at the Ventura Beach Marriott.
A packed room joined together to honor Limoneira, a longtime corporate supporter of the music festival, and Betsy Blanchard Chess, a Limoneira board member and cultural activist who's a longtime member of the festival board.
Susan Scott, executive director of the Ventura Music Festival, praised Limoneira, a 125-year-old Santa Paula-based global agribusiness and real estate investor, for the more than $2.5 million it has contributed over the past decade to a wide range of local cultural groups, including the festival - "all with the goal of enhancing community and quality of life."
Chess was recognized for her lifetime of civic leadership and service to Ventura and its culture, through numerous nonprofit organizations supporting music and other arts, agriculture and education. "Betsy has a unique talent for combining service and leadership," Scott said. "She gives a lot of time and treasure to Rotary, church and many other good things."
The fundraiser also featured a performance by internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter/musician Lois Mahalia as well as a live auction to benefit the VMF Young Artists Fund.
Jim Harrison and I were happy to share a table at the Cabaret with former Mayor Jim Monahan, Glenda Cardona, and Patty and Lynn Harrison. As a former VMF board member, I am proud of the Harrison family for being a 25-year sponsor - staying with the festival from the very beginning.
For information on other upcoming VMF events - a Rising Stars program on May 17 and the 11-day festival in July - visit venturamusicfestival.org.
Thanks for Personal, Professional Honors
I was surrounded by my nearest and dearest loved ones at the Livingston Foundation's Mother of the Year luncheon. Front row, from left, are Jim and Glenda Monahan and Jim Harrison on one side and my son Peter and his wife Bertha on the other. Friends behind us are, from left, Stephanie Caldwell, Scott Horner, Peggy Buehler and Linda Botts.
In recent weeks, I have had the rare pleasure of being acknowledged both professionally and personally by my community.
Top 50 Women in Business
Unbelievably, this is my 12th consecutive year on the Business Times' annual list of top female business owners and executives from Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. The lovely 13th annual awards reception was held April 18 in Santa Barbara.
Thanks again to the Business Times' editor, Henry Dubroff, and publisher Linda le Brock for this recognition.
The full list and special report ran March 22 in the Business Times. It's worth a look, to learn how these amazing and inspiring women are making a real difference in the world.
Mother of the Year
It was a slightly more surreal feeling for me to be honored as a mom, during the 11th annual Mother's Day luncheon event hosted on April 26 by the Livingston Foundation at the Las Posas Country Club in Camarillo.
A packed room full of friends, neighbors, work associates and family including my wonderful son, Peter, shared in my remarkable experience of receiving this esteemed Mother of the Year Award.
It was a beautiful event, with so many of my loved ones there to share it, and the highlight for me, of course, was the sweet speech by Peter. I filled with pride when Peter - an accomplished banker who lives in Palos Verdes with his wife, Bertha - thanked me for being a loving and caring mom and for setting "a great example of getting involved in the community, from the time I was a little boy." Yes, I started him young.
Peter also shared that we finally will be breaking ground on our new home, after we lost our beloved old house in the Thomas Fire of December 2017. "Mom showed such amazing resiliency and a fantastic attitude after the fire," Peter said. "She has a favorite quote that says it best: 'Always look forward, never backward; the best is yet to come and tomorrow will be the best day ever.'"
Thanks also to my dear friend Elena Brokaw, executive director of the Museum of Ventura County and my "honorary daughter," for her kind words at the luncheon. And thanks to Livingston, for its great work and for this incredible event, honoring community leaders who also shine as mothers. I was proud to share the 11th annual honors with the late Helen A. Olson, the first lady of California Lutheran University, who received the award posthumously.
Thrilled that LOTS of Harrisons were among those who came out to share the Mother of the Year celebration, including, front row from left, Sharon, Patty, Lynn, George and Jenny Harrison, and back row from left, Myron Harrison, Brian Brennan and Ralph Harrison.
Inaugural Gala Honors the Wachtell Family For 'Building Bridges'
The Wachtell family and everyone else at the sold-out event had a fantastic time - including me and my friends Elena Brokaw and her husband Pat Miller, seen in the photo at top left enjoying the Sgt. Pepper Beatles tribute band that played in the courtyard.
Celebrating the accomplishments of citizens who've made a significant impact on our community's past, present and future, the inaugural Bridge Builder Award Gala was hosted on April 27 by the Museum of Ventura County.
Held at the museum in downtown Ventura, the gala was a fabulous, sold-out event honoring the Thomas and Esther Wachtell family of Ojai.
The children of philanthropists, both of the Wachtells have continued to carry that philosophy through the generations. "I am very proud of the fact that our children and their children learned those lessons and that we have a whole new crop of people working in their communities," Esther said.
In honoring the Wachtells, the museum stated: "Their commitment to growing philanthropy and to supporting our county's major institutions - the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Cal State Channel Islands, Thomas Aquinas College, Libbey Bowl, the Ojai Music Festival and the Museum of Ventura County - has forever changed our community's culture and environment. ... The Museum of Ventura County is honored to be able to have a part in capturing and documenting this unique regional spirit."
We truly admire this family. Esther and Tom are wonderful people who've done so much good for the county, and we loved spending time with their family at this great event.
The newly upgraded machinery at Gold Coast Recycling in Ventura runs much faster and cleaner, helping to give Gold Coast a leg up in the struggling recycling industry. (Photo by Brendan Daly/Whisenhunt Communications)
There's no way around it: Globally, the recycling news is not good. After decades of accepting most of the world's recycled materials, China is preparing to almost completely shut down its already vastly scaled-back global recycling operations.
"By the end of 2020, 95 percent of what used to go to China will be banned," said Daniel Marks, CEO of the Berg Mill Supply Co., materials broker for Gold Coast Recycling in Ventura.
"There will be a small allocation for very clean cardboard, but that's all China will take after 2020," Marks said, "so, for Gold Coast, China will no longer be an option."
Luckily, Berg Mill saw this coming years ago and was able to work with Gold Coast to develop international markets outside of China "for many years to come," Marks said. "Not many others can say the same."
We're also keeping an eye on the emerging U.S. recycling industry, and we're doing what we can locally. Notably, Engineering Manager Mike Harrison recently oversaw a major equipment upgrade at Gold Coast. After a four-month-long installation/transition process, the new sorting and baling system is in place, and there's already been a dramatic improvement in efficiencies.
"The machinery is doing great," said Gold Coast General Manager George Harrison. "We can run the new system much faster and cleaner. As a result, our monthly average diversion is significantly better than before and the cleaner material is far more acceptable for the marketplace."
With an eye to a brighter future, Gold Coast encourages its customers to maintain their excellent recycling habits, and the company continues to work with Edgar & Associates, a Sacramento-based environmental engineering and lobbying firm, to make sure the recycling industry's voice is being heard. "It's a tough time, but we'll get through it," Harrison said.
Ventura Spring Business Expo Goes 'Small Town'
Save the date: The Ventura Chamber of Commerce will present its popular annual Spring Business Expo on Thursday, May 16, at Four Points by Sheraton Ventura Harbor.
"Small Town USA" is the theme of this year's event, which will run from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Four Points is at 1050 Schooner Drive.
The business expo features over 75 exhibitor booths of local businesses and restaurants, displaying information, products and services. As always, Harrison will have a booth at this fun, interactive community event.
There are raffles, prizes, giveaways and a $100 cash drawing every hour. Prizes include dinner at a local fire station and two tickets with reserved concert seating to the 2019 Ventura County Fair.
Harrison also is a proud sponsor of this expo, which does such a great job of bringing together local residents and the business community.
As a member of the Ventura Chamber's Board of Directors, I am proud to help coordinate this great event.
State of the Community: Carpinteria's Business Outlook is Bright
From left, Ralph, David and Jim Harrison attended the Carpinteria State of the Community event at the Rincon Beach Club.
Local business and civic leaders got plenty of good news at the Carpinteria Chamber of Commerce's recent 2019 State of the Community and Economic Forecast Luncheon.
The charming coastal city continues to maintain its small-town appeal and a strong call to volunteerism while also nurturing booming tourism, technology and service industries, said Carpinteria Mayor Wade Nomura and the other speakers at the sold-out event, held March 29 at the Rincon Beach Club.
Joining Mayor Nomura at the podium were featured speakers Das Williams, Santa Barbara County's supervisor for Carpinteria; and Mark Schniepp of the California Economic Forecast. Discussing everything from road construction to the cannabis industry to the future of brick-and-mortar business, the speakers covered a lot of ground during the two-hour event, which included a delicious lunch at the beautiful beach club on Santa Claus Lane.
Bottom line: Carpinteria is doing well, with a shining future ahead.
State of the City: It's 'A New Day in Ventura'
Focused on everything from rebuilding homes to creating affordable housing to battling homelessness, from repairing streets to public safety to growing the local economy, Ventura Mayor Matt LaVere spoke broadly of a bright future ahead during his 2019 State of the City address.
"I am truly optimistic about the state and the future of this city," LaVere said during his address, titled "A New Day in Ventura." He presented the address during the Ventura Chamber of Commerce's annual State of the City breakfast event on April 18 at Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach.
LaVere began with a look back at the devastating Thomas Fire that destroyed 540 structures in and around the city in December 2017. "2018 was unprecedented," he said. "In 2018, our No. 1 priority had to be rebuilding Ventura."
With families finally starting to return to their rebuilt homes, the focus is shifting back to more usual civic duties. "I have two main priorities: public safety and core services," LaVere said. "That's what we're here to do: keep you safe and make sure the city's infrastructure works."
There's also a focus on local commercial development. LaVere stressed that he and city officials are working hard to make Ventura more business-friendly. "Our process can be exhausting," he acknowledged. "I hear your cries loud and clear. And here's my promise to you: We're going to take the bold and innovative steps necessary to fix the broken process.
"We need to be bold and we need to be business-friendly," he concluded. "We need to make it simpler to do business in Ventura."
As a member of the Ventura Chamber Board of Directors and on behalf of Ventura-based Harrison Industries, I am proud of how hard our civic leaders work to keep improving this already magnificent city.
Celebrating the Earth
Peter Gutierrez mans the Harrison booth at the Ventura Earth Day Eco Fest.
It was our pleasure to take part again this year in Earth Day celebrations in Ventura and Ojai.
The Ojai event, hosted by the Ojai Valley Green Coalition, took place on Saturday, April 20, in Libbey Park. Ventura's Earth Day Eco Fest, coordinated by the Ventura Charter School of Arts and Global Education, took place on Saturday, April 27, at Plaza Park.
Each year, we sponsor and have booths at both of these wonderful, popular community events, which commemorate Earth Day (April 22) through celebration and information.
"Our role is to educate people about how to reduce waste, and be good caretakers," said Peter Gutierrez, who represents Harrison Industries at the Ventura fest, which this year drew more than 80 exhibitors and more than 5,000 visitors.
Ojai's Earth Day event.
"We enjoy spending that time face to face with so many people who are all there to learn," Peter said. "We feel like we're able to really get the word out about the importance of reducing waste."
In beautiful, rustic Ojai, "Earth Day is a very big deal," said Donald Sealund, Harrison's representative at the Ojai festival, which also drew a huge crowd. "Ojai residents are incredibly engaged and interested in learning what they can do to take better care of the land and the Earth."
We appreciate the opportunity to share our knowledge of sustainability with the communities we serve. Together, we really can make a difference.
For the Benefit of Our Community Health
The Community Memorial Hospital Foundation's 47th Benefactors' Ball took place on Saturday, April 13, at the Ventura Beach Marriott. The always-wonderful event paid tribute this year to the three physicians of Ventura's Woodburn family as well as to CMH trustee Jeffrey D. Paul, who was named Community Leader of the Year. The festivities included craft cocktails, delicious gourmet cuisine, live entertainment and a DJ for after-dinner dancing. Happily representing Harrison at the event were, from left, Mary, Edward, Lynn and Patty Harrison.