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Simi Valley Acorn News

Kanye West reportedly looking to open school between Simi, Moorpark

A view of 1625 Tierra Rejada Road on Tues., Sept. 21. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers

Indications are music and fashion mogul Kanye West is eying a 4-acre parcel on Tierra Rejada Road in the unincorporated area between Moorpark and Simi Valley for his first private school.

West announced plans for Donda Academy, a school to honor his late mother, earlier this month. Donda West died in 2007. “Donda” is also the name of West’s latest album.

According to an Aug. 30 permit report issued by Ventura County’s Building and Safety division, Donda Academy Inc. has requested a change of occupancy for the former Simi Valley Stoneridge Preparatory School property at 1625 Tierra Rejada Road.

The property was listed for lease by Santa Clarita-based RE/MAX Crissman Commercial Services.

Tim Crissman, the lead broker, referred all questions about the property to the agent representing Donda Academy, Tyrone McKillen with Los Angeles-based Plus Real Estate Group.

McKillen has not returned calls seeking comment.

The property includes a 5,728-square-foot school with classrooms, labs, offices, kitchen, restrooms, storage, a basketball court and an open field, according to the lease information posted by Crissman.

According to a September report from MTV News, Donda Academy will be a tuition-free private school that will serve 60 students from kindergarten through high school. West’s goal, MTV said, is to honor his mother’s legacy in academia.

A Google Maps satellite image showing 1625 Tierra Rejada Road.

Donda West was a professor in the English department at Chicago State University.

While the school’s website is mostly blank, it does include a mission statement: “Finding the intersection between faith and the innovation of the future, Donda Academy is focused on equipping students with an education that will last in the ever-changing world.”

Attempts to reach Beulah McLoyd, who is listed on the website as the academy’s educational consultant, have been unsuccessful.

Simi Valley Stoneridge Preparatory School closed in the early 2010s after operating on Tierra Rejada Road for many years.

Stoneridge had been in existence since 1965; it started in Calabasas as the Marie Cutler School before moving to Tarzana and finally settling in Simi Valley.

Once a member of the California Interscholastic Federation, Stoneridge became an independent prep school after repeated problems with rule violations related to its basketball program, which attracted some of the nation’s top recruits to the tiny campus with fewer than 50 students.

West splits time between homes in Hidden Hills and Cody, Wyoming. The father of four has a net worth of over $1 billion, according to Forbes.


Learn and live

I have been talking to a lot of people and we all agree that there is only one race in all the world.

It’s called the human race and we do not need any more reasons to discriminate and become more divided—masks vs. non-masked; vaccinated vs. non vaccinated.

Look up and learn how our immune system works before judging someone.

Educate yourselves instead of relying on the news media.

Please learn so we can all act humanely.

Remember always, you can not judge another until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

Karen McLeod
Simi Valley



Neighbors can join forces to be better prepared

Preparing for disaster is one of those things that’s often put off until tomorrow. But, without warning, tomorrow may be too late.

Mother Nature’s alarm clock provided a gentle reminder of that Monday at 7:59 a.m. when a magnitude 3.6 earthquake nudged Eastern Ventura County.

The epicenter was situated about 1.9 miles below ground in the Wildwood neighborhood of Thousand Oaks. Some residents in Simi Valley reported feeling a short jolt while others didn’t feel any movement at all.

We got lucky this time. But chances are that a much larger earthquake will strike Southern California and we will all feel the impact.

September is National Preparedness Month, an opportunity for families and communities to take steps to better prepare for all types of emergencies like earthquakes, wildfires, planned and unplanned power shutoffs, and even a pandemic like the one we’re still working our way out of.

Remember the toilet paper shortage? That basic item won’t be the biggest concern if a major disaster strikes.

In the event of a catastrophe, first responders won’t be available to answer every call. They’ll have to prioritize and provide help to those only in the most dire situations—if they can get there, that is.

We as individuals and neighbors will have to fend for ourselves and take responsibility for our own safety. Being ready could mean the difference between life and death.

Already have a plan and supplies? Now is a good time to replace old items and update that plan. In addition to stocking water, food, and other vital items like medication and important documents, a strategy for communication should be in place to reach family members in the event of a disaster.

Networking with neighbors can also help increase resilience. Do you know what skills your neighbors have? Do you live near a nurse, a doctor, a plumber or a utility worker?

A community program called Map Your Neighborhood, used by some cities, encourages residents to organize meetings so they can get to know one another, which enables them to create a neighborhood network and action plan.

Information gathered at these meetings can include whether anyone is disabled or needs special medical care. But those meetings are not the only way to know who lives in your community. Conversations with neighbors can also help to determine who can do what if an emergency happens.

According to ready.gov, 46% of individuals expect to rely a great deal on people in their neighborhood for assistance within the first 72 hours after a disaster. This neighbor-helping neighbor approach can involve civic organizations, faith-based groups, and people who live in proximity to each other.

In Ventura County, residents are encouraged to undergo Community Emergency Response Team training to learn basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

See the story on Page 3 for more tips on how to prepare for an emergency.

As for earthquakes, there’s an app for that.

MyShake, which is free, provides alerts about tremors that are magnitude 4.5 or higher. That early warning could give users crucial seconds to take cover before the shaking starts.


Wildwood the epicenter of 3.6 quake

 

 

Homeowners in Thousand Oaks were scrambling to double check their insurance policies after a 3.6 magnitude earthquake rattled the northern half of the city seconds before 8 a.m. Monday.

The Sept. 13 jolt—which was felt from as far away as Santa Barbara to the northwest and Beverly Hills to the east—was the first centered in the Conejo Valley since 2007, when a 3.4 magnitude quake hit near the Ventura County/ Los Angeles County line.

According to the United States Geological Survey, Monday’s quake happened 1.5 miles beneath the Wildwood neighborhood in northwest T.O. A minor aftershock, registering magnitude 1.3, was recorded at 8:24 a.m., per the USGS website.

While some residents said they felt little or nothing from the shallow quake, those living nearby had a different experience.

“CLU was rockin’,” Kyle McIntosh said on Twitter. McIntosh is an accounting and finance lecturer at the university.

Others reported being jolted out of bed.

“Seemed stronger than 3.6 because (it) happened close and (was) very shallow,” tweeted Ben Woodard, who was in the Wildwood area at the time.

Lucy Jones, one of the country’s leading seismologists, tweeted a reminder that just because a quake doesn’t have a high magnitude doesn’t mean it can’t be frightening.

“Magnitude is not what you feel. Magnitude is total energy released,” Jones said. “Intensity is what you feel—how much of that energy gets to you. Very near this shallow quake could give strong shaking.”

According to the safety element of the Thousand Oaks General Plan, no active faults have been mapped in T.O., “but two potentially active faults, the Boney Mountain and Sycamore Canyon faults, traverse parts of the city.”

Jones said that, because of its small size, Monday’s quake could not be definitely assigned to one particular fault but added the nearest mapped fault is in Simi Valley.

The City of Thousand Oaks took the opportunity to promote September as National Preparedness

Month, steering residents to ready.gov, a national public service website with tips for making family emergency plans and supply kits. It offers ways to get involved in helping others during emergencies.

Be prepared

Ready.gov, the website for a national public service campaign, suggests making a plan before disaster strikes on how you will contact and reconnect with loved ones if separated in an emergency.

The campaign also suggests preparing a disaster supply kit. A basic kit should include 1 gallon of water per person per day for several days, at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food and a manual can opener, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, first-aid kit, batteries, whistle (to signal for help), dust masks, plastic sheeting and duct tape, moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties, a wrench or pliers, local maps and a cellphone with chargers and a backup battery.


Virtual emergency forums

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office will host two virtual emergency preparedness workshops and community feedback sessions to share information about local hazards, emergency response efforts, and updates to evacuations and emergency messaging.

The online workshops are scheduled to run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wed. and Thurs., Sept. 22 and 23. Sessions will be given in English, Spanish, American Sign Language and Mixteco.

Each workshop will open with remarks from Sheriff Bill Ayub and County Executive Officer Mike Powers. Experts will then discuss and answer questions about preparing for emergencies and coordination between local and county-level emergency response teams.

The educational and interactive workshops are intended to bolster personal readiness and overall community resilience.

To register and select a preferred language, go online to readyventuracounty.org/ calendar-of-events.


Now’s the time to prepare for a disaster

September is Preparedness Month, an annual opportunity for families and communities to take steps to better prepare for emergencies.

This year’s theme is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.”

Emergencies come in many forms: earthquake, wildfire, public safety power shutoff and pandemic. To be ready before disaster strikes, take the steps below.

Make a plan. Talk to friends and family about how they will communicate before, during and after a disaster.

This could include selecting an out-of-state telephone contact (family or friend) and advising family members to call, text or email their status after an emergency to this person. This will allow separated family members to communicate.

Update the plan based on the Centers for Disease Control recommendations due to the coronavirus.

Build a kit. Gather supplies that will last for several days after a disaster for everyone living in the home, including water, non-perishable food, batteries and flashlights.

Consider the unique needs each person or pet may have in case of a quick evacuation.

Update the kits and supplies based on CDC recommendations.

Low-cost, no-cost preparedness. Natural disasters don’t wait for a convenient time. Preparation shouldn’t wait either.

To start, sign up for neighborhood emergency information at readyventuracounty.org/vc-alert.

Safeguard important documents, and take other low- and no-cost preparedness actions to lessen the impact of emergencies.

Teach youth about preparedness. Talk to the kids about preparing for emergencies and what to do in case the family is separated.

Go to readyventuracounty.org and ready.gov for emergency supply lists, family plans and hazard lists.

Ventura County Fire Department offers Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training with online courses taken at one’s own pace and culminating with a hands-on experience for the credential.

Residents interested in increasing their knowledge of emergency preparedness can take the online courses without completing the hands-on sessions.

To start, go to vcfd.org/cert and select Simi Valley.

Participate in the Great California

ShakeOut on Thurs., Oct. 21. Go to shakeout.org/california for more information.

Tune to the city’s 530 AM radio station during emergencies to receive information such as evacuation orders, road closures and incident status.

Follow the Simi Valley Emergency Operations Center on Twitter @SVEOC to receive important emergency updates.

For more information, call Eileen Connors, emergency services manager, at (805) 583-6982 or email econnors@simivalley.org or go to simivalley.org/departments/ police-department/emergency-services.


Recall fails, Newsom easily retains his seat

WINNER— Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at a COVID-19 vaccination site inside the Ventura County Office of Education on March 2 in Camarillo. Acorn File Photo

WINNER— Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at a COVID-19 vaccination site inside the Ventura County Office of Education on March 2 in Camarillo. Acorn File Photo

Just as voters did statewide, those in Ventura County resoundingly said no Tuesday to the gubernatorial recall, which began Aug. 16.

Results will change as voteby mail and provisional ballots are tallied, but as of Wednesday, the California secretary of state’s office reported that 63.9% of voters rejected the recall while 36.1% supported it.

Meanwhile the county’s elections division reported slightly higher support for the recall, with 95,203, or 40.5%, voting yes and 140,083, or 59.5%, voting against the ballot proposal.

Had the initiative passed, political radio host Larry Elder, a Republican, would have replaced Gov. Gavin Newsom. Elder had an overwhelming lead over the race’s 45 other candidates. Statewide, Elder received 46.9% of votes cast for the ballot’s second question regarding who should succeed Newsom should the recall go through.

Trailing far behind in second was Democrat Kevin Paffrath, a Ventura County resident, with 9.8%, and in third was Republican Kevin Faulconer with 8.6%.

CAMPAIGNING— Larry Elder, left, speaks with Elex Michaelson of FOX 11 News outside the Junkyard Cafe in Simi Valley on Sept. 12. The candidate also made a brief speech inside the restaurant. Courtesy of MICHAEL SCOTT

CAMPAIGNING— Larry Elder, left, speaks with Elex Michaelson of FOX 11 News outside the Junkyard Cafe in Simi Valley on Sept. 12. The candidate also made a brief speech inside the restaurant. Courtesy of MICHAEL SCOTT

In Ventura County, Elder garnered 74,654, or 54.8%, of the 136,238 votes cast for a candidate. Faulconer edged out Paffrath for second with 19,963 votes, or 14.6%, to Paffrath’s 10,824, or 7.9%.

The county’s other resident candidate, Sam Gallucci, a pastor in Oxnard, garnered 485 votes in Ventura County, or 0.4%.

Former billboard model Angelyne, famous locally for driving around in a hot pink Corvette, garnered 0.5% of votes statewide and 0.7% (972) in the county

On Sun., Sept. 12, Elder’s Recall Express tour made a pit stop at the Junkyard Cafe in Simi Valley, where a large crowd gathered to welcome the candidate.

Simi Mayor Keith Mashburn, and Councilmembers Mike Judge and Elaine Litster were present at the event and each said a few words before Elder spoke inside the Junkyard Cafe.

Speaking with the Acorn on Wednesday, Mashburn said he believes many people voted for Elder not necessarily because he was their top choice, but because they wanted to see a Republican win.

“He had the strongest presence and I think that a lot of conservatives wanted a winner. They didn’t want to split the vote.

“But Democrats rallied and brought their voters to go against the recall and it worked,” Mashburn said, adding that he was surprised by the wide margin favoring Newsom in Ventura County.

“I thought it would be a much closer race,” he said.

But Elder’s lead among the Republican contenders also was a double-edged sword of sorts. According to social media posts, many moderates who intended to support the recall ultimately voted against it because they felt Elder was too extreme.

Results from the recall election will be certified Oct. 22.

There were 51 voting centers in the county.

Sites in Simi included the public library, Cornerstone Church, Friendly Village, two middle schools, three elementary school, and the Simi Institute for Careers and Education.


A friend who cared

HUGE LOSS—Elizabeth Shannon Strull, 68, was a marriage and family therapist dedicated to helping people. Courtesy of Karen Troop

HUGE LOSS—Elizabeth Shannon Strull, 68, was a marriage and family therapist dedicated to helping people. Courtesy of Karen Troop

The community is mourning the loss of a friend, mother, grandmother, sister, and counselor who gave much of her time to care for others.

“She was an unconditional friend to everyone,” said Karen Troop, who had known Elizabeth Shannon Strull for more than 20 years.

Strull, 68, died after being struck by a car while crossing the street Tuesday near Simi Valley High School.

The fatal incident occurred at about 7:30 a.m. Sept. 14 at Cochran and Stow streets. The driver of a Honda CR-V going eastbound on Cochran Street allegedly ran a red light, striking Strull and another woman, Simi police Sgt. John Adamczyk said.

Strull, a Simi Valley resident, was taken to the hospital where she died from her injuries, the Ventura County medical examiner’s office said.

The second woman, a 37-year-old Simi resident whose name has not been released, sustained serious injuries. As of Thursday afternoon, there was no update available on her condition.

Simi police Cmdr. Steve Shorts said the driver of the 2016 gray Honda is a 60-year-old woman who lives in Simi Valley. She stopped at the scene after the crash and cooperated with police. At this time, she has not been cited or arrested, he said.

MEMORIAL— Friends and family of Elizabeth Shannon Strull began leaving flowers and other items on the east corner of Stow Street after Strull was killed Tuesday while walking through the crosswalk at Cochran Street. MELISSA SIMON/ Acorn Newspapers

MEMORIAL— Friends and family of Elizabeth Shannon Strull began leaving flowers and other items on the east corner of Stow Street after Strull was killed Tuesday while walking through the crosswalk at Cochran Street. MELISSA SIMON/ Acorn Newspapers

Remembering Shannon

Strull was a marriage and family therapist at Ohana Family Counseling in Simi Valley.

She leaves behind her son Kelly; daughter-in-law Raina; sister Kitty Ryan; brothers Patrick, Robert and John; and two grandchildren.

“Her life was dedicated to helping others overcome life’s obstacles. Shannon was a loving mother, grandmother and great friend to many, including myself,” Julie Vasquez wrote on Facebook Wednesday.

“She had a great love of flowers, yoga, walking, her cat Sugar and going on wine tours with friends, among many other things.”

Troop, who recently went on a vacation with Strull, said her friend had come to a place in her life where joy and happiness finally had a front-row seat.

“She found balance in her life and recently purchased a convertible (car),” Troop said.

Strull and her siblings grew up in the San Fernando Valley. She moved to Simi Valley in the mid- 2000s and loved being here, said her sister, who also lives in the city.

“She was a committed Christian. She was good at everything she did. She was a gardener. For a while she owned a quilt shop (here). Many know her from that,” Ryan said.

Strull, her sister said, was gifted both artistically and mathematically.

“She felt very comfortable in Simi Valley and she loved the people. She had many friends in the community,” Ryan said.

This past year, Strull began walking at least two miles every morning. “She walked up Stow Street and came back down. This was her neighborhood,” Ryan said.

At this time, Ryan said it doesn’t appear that her sister and the other victim hit by the car knew each other.

The family is praying for all those who were at the intersection that morning, Ryan said.

Troop said Strull was very caring about all of her clients and she was “always so eager on the days that she knew she would have her grandchildren (visit).”

“She and a friend, and her sister, and the two grandkids (and I) were all at the last concert in the courtyard in the Regal center,” Troop said.

Strull had a “beautiful, loving relationship with her son,” Troop said. “He was the apple of her eye.”

In the days following the tragedy, friends of Strull asked the community to keep her family, work colleagues, clients and friends in their prayers as they process the sudden tragedy.

In addition to placing bouquets of flowers at the site of the incident on the east corner of Stow Street, people can leave “painted memory rocks” at Ohana Family Counseling, 1985 Yosemite Ave., Suite 230, as encouragement to the staff and clients, Vasquez said.

Students affected

At the time of the collision, Simi Valley High students were arriving on campus for their morning classes. Principal John C. Baxter helped direct traffic near the school to make sure students got onto campus safely, said Jake Finch, Simi Valley Unified School District spokesperson.

Several students were upset by the incident, Finch said, and Baxter arranged for them to meet with school counselors.

“When we know that a child might have been traumatized, we do everything we can because these are violent events and they’re horrible to see and have happen,” Finch said.

Many students are on edge due to the ongoing pandemic, she said, and the collision only served to exacerbate the tension.

“Having an incident like this right before the start of school is absolutely difficult, but Principal Baxter was doing his best to make sure the kids were OK,” Finch said.


HONORING THE FALLEN

CHOKED UP—Above, Bruce Hellebrand, a member of Simi Valley High’s Class of 1972, comforts fellow classmate Bruce Dobin after Dobin gave an emotional speech honoring their classmates who died in Vietnam. At left, Simi Valley High Principal John Baxter is presented the flag before the football game last week.

CHOKED UP—Above, Bruce Hellebrand, a member of Simi Valley High’s Class of 1972, comforts fellow classmate Bruce Dobin after Dobin gave an emotional speech honoring their classmates who died in Vietnam. Below, Simi Valley High Principal John Baxter is presented the flag before the football game last week.

 

 

SOLEMN SALUTE—Before the start of Simi Valley High School’s Sept. 10 football game, members of the Class of 1972 paid tribute to 10 classmates who went on to serve in Vietnam and were killed in action. Above, members of the school’s varsity football team stand at attention during the ceremony as the flag is brought in by the President Ronald Reagan Marine Corps League Detachment #597. Photos by RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers

SOLEMN SALUTE—Before the start of Simi Valley High School’s Sept. 10 football game, members of the Class of 1972 paid tribute to 10 classmates who went on to serve in Vietnam and were killed in action. Above, members of the school’s varsity football team stand at attention during the ceremony as the flag is brought in by the President Ronald Reagan Marine Corps League Detachment #597. Photos by RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers


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