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GOLDEN STATE IS OUT! Agreement expected to be signed April 12

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Ojai Friends of Locally Owned Water member Richard Hajas prepared this chart this week showing the projected savings to the typical Ojai service area customer for the next 10 years.

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Ojai Valley News photo by Tim Dewar

This sign appeared in Libbey Park during a 2013 rally celebrating the election results that provided the funding mechanism for the buyout.

Bill Warner, Ojai Valley News reporter
An agreement that would remove Golden State Water Company (GSWC) as water purveyor for its Ojai service area could be signed as early as April 12.
According to an April 7 press release from the Casitas Municipal Water District (CMWD) its Board of Directors will meet April 12 to possibly sign the three-way agreement between Ojai Friends of Locally Owned Water (F.L.O.W.), CMWD and GSWC.
The release went on to say that June 15 is the target date for the switch, but that date is contingent on the sale of Mello-Roos bonds that will finance the acquisition. The agreement authorizes $30 million to GSWC for its interest in the service area, along with an additional $4.4 million for money owed GSWC for surcharges that would have been added to future billings. Technically, the GSWC holdings will be purchased by the Ojai Community Facilities District (CFD), which in turn would be administered by CMWD.
“It's been quite a journey, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us,” CMWD General Manager Steve Wickstrum said April 7. “We want to make sure the transition happens smoothly, and we want to pick up the ball and make sure the system is the very best system to serve the people up there.”
Ojai voters approved CMWD's acquisition of GSWC's Ojai service area in 2013. GSWC responded with a lawsuit aimed at blocking CMWD's plan to form a CFD for the purpose of raising money for the buyout. After rejections by the superior and appellate courts, the lawsuit made its way to the Supreme Court of California, which likewise rejected it in 2015. That same year, CMWD retained the services of the Ventura-based Bruce W. Hull & Associates to conduct an appraisal of the Ojai District. Based on that appraisal, in February 2016 CMWD offered GSWC $23.7 million for its local holdings. That offer was rejected by GSWC in March 2016.
In January 2017, the eminent domain bid was set for a phase-one “right to take” bench trial June 12 and a phase-two jury trial involving valuation and damages Dec. 11.
The agreement eliminates the need for further legal action.
“I'd say we're all elated,” said Pat McPherson, chairman of F.L.O.W., the grassroots organization largely responsible for bringing the issue of acquisition to public referendum in 2013 at which Ojai residents voted overwhelmingly to place a community facilities district bond on their property to finance the acquisition. “We're really pleased we didn't have to go through the court, that we could get it done quickly,” he explained.
In January, Ventura Superior Court Judge Vincent O'Neill found F.L.O.W.’s seven-member Board of Directors liable for $23,209 in fees and costs payable to GSWC and its legal staff for services associated with the eminent domain suit. This agreement would release them from that liability and requires the other two parties to pay their own legal fees associated with this effort.
The agreement does not address the issue of repairing the Ojai Playhouse building, damaged by waters from a July 2014 water main break on Ojai Avenue. It also does not determine who will take over the seat currently held by GSWC on the Ojai Basin Groundwater Management Agency.
The CMWD meeting will be held April 12 at 3 p.m. at the Oak View Park and Resource Center, 555 Mahoney Ave. in Oak View. The meeting will be open to the public.
Contacted for comment, GSWC officials had not responded by 4 p.m. April 7.

Latest sports

Soule Park has new caretaker for first time in 45 years

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ted Cotti
Soule Park’s Gary Skolnik takes in the beauty of the course on the first tee box. 
Ted Cotti, Ojai Valley News correspondent
Harry Truman, Gene Bartow, John Williams, Jay Leno, Thabo Mbeki, Paul Sunderland and, most recently, Joe Davis each had the unenviable position of replacing an “institution” — respectively: America’s only four-term president FDR, UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, Arthur Fiedler (who conducted the Boston Pops for five decades), Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, South African President Nelson Mandela, the Lakers’ Chick Hearn, and the Dodgers’ Vin Scully.
And while detractors can be found, each managed to succeed according to most. 
Gary Skolnik hopes to follow in their footsteps.
Skolnik moved from Brazil to Ojai July 17 to take over as superintendent
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Former rivals meet in summer league play

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Photo submitted
Former Tri-Valley League baseball stars Luke Boyd (right), from Nordhoff High School, and Darius Vines, from St. Bonaventure High School, are still facing off on the diamond. Boyd, a returning sophomore at Baylor University and Vines, who will attend Yavapai Junior College in Arizona this fall, played in Victoria British Columbia earlier this month. Vines plays for the Walla Walla Sweets in Washington and Boyd for the Victoria Harbour Cats in Canada in the West Coast Baseball League for collegiate summer ball. Both players now specialize as pitchers only for their respective schools. Vines was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in this year’s Major League Baseball draft, but has yet to sign. Boyd will be competing for a starting role this fall for the Baylor Bears. 

National high school tennis championship field released

Tim Tuttle, Ojai Valley News correspondent
Scout Matthews, from Weil Tennis Academy, has been seeded third for the fourth annual New Balance High School Tennis Championship, scheduled to hold its debut tournament in Ojai from July 23 through July 27.
The tournament brings together a top field of boys and girls who played for their high school teams in the past year, competing for one singles title for each gender. It will be held
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New team sits on top of Sundowner golf league standings

The Sundowner golf league reached the season three-quarter mark July 18 at Soule Park Golf Course. The leading teams stumbled a bit and the rest of the field took advantage of the opportunity to gain some ground.
The team of Parker's Putters scored 61 points on the week to further solidify their status as the top-scoring team over the second half of the season. The Putters were led by
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Ojai boys’ basketball program showing signs of life

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ken Brown
Nordhoff High School’s Jake Williams (right) boxes out an opponent in a game last winter. Williams is one of the seniors working hard to resurrect the struggling basketball program this summer.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
There has been a resurgence of boys’ basketball at Nordhoff High School (NHS) this summer.
According to NHS head coach Matt Murphy, he has seen an increase in players taking part in summer basketball activities.
“It has been going great. This summer we really pared down how much
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Sundowner golf league returns to action after holiday break

Jeff Sturdivan of the team Shut the Putt Up made Sundowner history July 11 at Soule Park Golf Course. Sturdivan broke a decades-old record for most points by a player during weekly play. 
The previous record of 27 points was held by a number of players, including Sean Strben and Josh Griep. Sturdivan shot a round that was 10 under his handicap to earn 28 points and place his name in the Sundowner record book. 
Sturdivan played last year to a 10 handicap but has seen his handicap balloon to a 13 this year as a result of a number of poor rounds. He finally put it all together and shot a gross 39 behind seven pars, one bogey and one double bogey. The gross 39 represented a 26-net and allowed him to stand
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Rice wins gold at Ojai Valley Inn

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Photo submitted
Lois Rice recently defended her club championship against a solid field at the 2017 Ojai Valley Inn & Spa Ladies Club Championship tournament. Rice also topped all competitors last year.

12U all-stars make it to national championships

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Photo by Eric Trejo
The 12U Ojai Valley all-stars celebrate after finishing fifth place at the state tournament. By finishing in the top five, the local girls will advance to nationals in San Diego.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
For the first time in recent memory, the Ojai Valley is sending a girls’ softball team to a national championship tournament. The U12 all-stars advanced to the district tournament after a solid regular season and did well enough there to qualify for the state tournament. 
At state, the Ojai all-stars traveled to Lancaster and braved heat that stayed well above 100 degrees much of the weekend. They still managed to place fifth,  earning them a berth in the nationals in San Diego July 13 through July 16. 
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Allen returns to LPGA

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Photo courtesy of the Ladies European Tour
Ojai native Beth Allen lines up a putt in a recent tournament. Allen is currently playing on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour. 
Tim Tuttle, Ojai Valley News contributor
Beth Allen returned to the LPGA, the world’s top women’s golf tour, this season with far superior shot-making ability, a high degree of confidence, maturity and a greater sense of financial stability developed in eight seasons on the Ladies European Tour (L.E.T.). It’s going to take more than missing a few cuts to rattle her.
The 35-year-old Nordhoff graduate opened the season by finishing in a tie for seventh in the ISPS Handa Australian Open. She followed that with a tie for 31st at Phoenix and a tie for 49th at the Kia Classic in Carlsbad. Allen also played in one L.E.T. tournament, the Oates Victorian Open in Australia, and finished in a tie for 36th.
She was four-for-four in the cashing paychecks department.
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Duque wins Front Niners mini-tournament

The third mini-tournament of the Soule Park's Ladies Front Nine summer session was scored as "CrissCross." After completing their rounds, players selected from each pair of crisscross holes, one or nine, two or eight, three or seven, and four or six, with all tallying the fifth hole.
After handicaps were applied, Mitnee Duque had a net-nine to win the tournament. Second place was a tie between Carole Borland, Sherry Doyle, Susan Edge, Joyce Robinson and Ruth Hemming at 10. A card-off based on the fifth hole gave the second-place prize to Hemming and third place was called a tie between Doyle and Robinson.
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Swimmers practice at Summer Camp

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Photo by Misty Hall
Third-grade swimmers at Ojai Valley School Summer Camp prepare to practice the backstroke this week. To help them remember the three-part technique, instructors taught them to fold their arms under their sides like a chicken, then put them straight out like an airplane, then put them down at their sides like a soldier.

Ojai set to host high school championships

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Photo submitted 
Ojai will play host to the High School National Championships July 24 through July 27 and will host players such as 2016 girls’ champion Allison McCann.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
Tennis in the Ojai Valley is rich in tradition and history and it is about to get even richer. New Balance recently announced the fourth annual New Balance High School Championships will be held in Ojai from July 24 through July 27.
After three years on the Harvard University campus in Boston, the world headquarters
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Ojai Little Leaguers playing in district tournament

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Photo by Rick Heidwein
The Ojai Valley Little League Junior Division All-Stars are competing in the California District 63 All-Star Tournament in Santa Paula this week. This year’s team includes (from left) Derek Mendoza, Eric Georgopoulos, Philip Heldwein, Jeremy Stout, Zac Sheets, Chris Woglom, Christian Moreno, Matt Williams, Ethan Sigsworth, Michael Weston, Ty Hilmer-Wiggins and Carlos Bautista. The coaching staff (not pictured) includes Eric Georgopoulos, Rick Heldwein and Jeff Mendoza.

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