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News from around the Ojai Valley

Spork diet: School using it to reduce its waste size

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Ojai Valley News photo by Andra Belknap
 Keiya Moreno (left) and Charlotte Boyce-Prukop make use of Mira Monte's new cutlery during lunchtime April 11.
Andra Belknap, Ojai Valley News reporter
Remember sporks? The plastic spoon/fork hybrid accompanies many a school lunch. 
Mira Monte Elementary School has decided to dispense with the ubiquitous plastic cutlery and allow students to use the real thing (except for the knives) as part of a new waste management strategy.
According to Mira Monte Principal Katherine White, the move has decreased waste at the school, enhanced the campus recycling program and saved money.
The new, metal cutlery was donated by parents and funded by the Parent Teacher Organization, said White.
Instead of unwrapping a plastic spork packet containing the utensil, napkin, and straw, students now pick the utensils they need and deposit them in a bucket of water when they are finished.
The elimination of straws, in particular, has eliminated a great deal of trash on campus.
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Ojai Valley News photo by Andra Belknap
Mira Monte student Aren Mejia examines a worm found in the school's worm bin.
“We used to joke about how we were growing little straws in the grass area because they were almost impossible to pick up,” said White. “They'd get partially buried in the grass and you could stand back and kind of look at the lawn and see all these little pieces of plastic all over the place.”
Mira Monte worked with E.J. Harrison & Sons and Ventura County to establish new waste practices for the 2016-2017 school year. 
“The principal wanted to hit the ground running,” said Lisa McCullough, a Ventura County environmental resource analyst.
Representatives from the county and E.J. Harrison & Sons joined Mira Monte students during their lunch hour for one week in August, instructing students how to separate food waste, recycling and trash, while tossing their utensils into a separate bucket.
“Their recycling is absolutely increasing, thereby offsetting trash disposal,” said McCullough.
Cali Piccirillo, a Food for Thought Ojai employee, spends Tuesdays at Mira Monte, helping students and staff move food scraps to the school’s worm bin while supervising work in the school garden.
Thanks to funding from the Harriet H. Samuelsson Foundation, Food for Thought has a weekly presence at each of the Ojai Unified School District's (OUSD) five elementary school garden programs.
Mira Monte students are particularly fond of the worm bin — one student even offered his half-finished apple to the worms April 11.
And Mira Monte isn’t the only OUSD school working to reduce waste.
Meiners Oaks Elementary School diverts 87 percent of its trash from the landfill, said teacher Janis Duncan, through the use of compostable materials and a school-wide recycling program.
The 2016-2017 school year marked the beginning of Mira Monte’s cutlery program, but not the first time they tried to establish it.
“We attempted this (approximately) five years ago. Shortly after that, the dishwasher broke,” said White.
“We took all the silverware that had been donated at that time and we made art out of it,” she said, recalling wind chimes made from forks and spoons.
The dishwasher has since been repaired with OUSD funding.

Latest sports

Nordhoff Ranger football season at a glance

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ken Brown
Nordhoff’s Ethan Sunder (No. 4), in last year’s action against San Marcos High School, will be one of the top returning players for the Rangers this fall.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
The Nordhoff High School (NHS) football team will open its 2017 season on the road Aug. 25 against the Hueneme Vikings. For Ranger fans, this year’s opponents
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Nearing the end of the season, Shut the Putt Up makes some noise

The team of Shut the Putt Up was able to score a massive 71 points during week 15 of Sundowners golf league play, jumping into a tie for first place on the season.
The 71-point total ties the season-high point total for any team.
With only one week remaining in the regular season, teams were
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Commentary: Ojai Valley sports loses a legend with the passing of Tim Tuttle

Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
The Ojai Valley News lost a great friend last week when part-time sports writer Tim Tuttle passed away unexpectedly. The news of Tim’s passing hit me like a ton of bricks and I am still trying to gather my thoughts and emotions. Although we normally communicated from afar, I grew to really like and respect Tim, so his passing is a huge loss.
Tim emailed me out of the blue a few years ago and in his typical humble fashion informed me that he grew up in Ojai and had “done a little sports writing” in the past and would be
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Nordhoff Ranger football putting in summer work

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ken Brown
The Nordhoff High School football program got its season under way July 31 with the linemen getting in some agility work. According to head coach Lance Wiggins, the bigs up front will be a strength of this year’s squad. NHS will put in work before opening the season Aug. 25 in Hueneme at 7 p.m. The program also will host its annual Casino Night Aug. 12 at the Ojai Valley Community Church. For more details, call Mike Dawkins at 340-1057.

Mang-Go!: Villanova QB looks for another year of running wild

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ken Brown
Raegan Mang runs away from defenders in a game against The Thacher School last season. Mang has rushed for more than 3,000 yards in his three seasons as a starting quarterback.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
Catching up with Villanova Preparatory School quarterback Raegan Mang is no easy task, just ask the defensive players in the Condor League. However, the Ojai Valley News was able to get Mang to sit still long enough to answer a handful of questions before the senior begins his final season as a Wildcat.
Mang has been Villanova’s starting quarterback since his freshman year and while his stats
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League teams battle down the stretch

The Sundowner golf league is nearing the end of its regular season and the playoff picture is still showing no signs of clarity.
There are 12 teams jockeying for eight playoff spots. Players know that only two weeks remain in the regular season and it is more important than ever that they play their best golf.
The Weapons of Grass Destruction have taken over the season lead
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Start of high school football season is just days away

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ken Brown
Nordhoff’s Eduardo Perez (right) zeros in on a Santa Paula High School player last season. Perez, who will be a junior this season, is one of many players the Rangers will be counting on this fall.
Mike Miller, Ojai Valley News sports editor
With the start of the 2017 football season just a few days away, the Nordhoff High School players and coaches are enjoying a week off before beginning their fall practice schedule July 31.
NHS players and coaches have been hard at work this summer with passing leagues and off-season workout regimens. According to head coach Lance
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Club competition should make area volleyball teams stronger

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Photo submitted
Several 14U Ojai volleyball players participated in club volleyball this summer and will now transition into local high schools.
Things should be looking up for years to come for fans of Nordhoff High School (NHS) girls’ volleyball. As always, the fortunes of the team can swing on the graduation or arrival of one or two key talented players. This year something remarkable is coming into play, a battle-tested, pre-packaged
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Ojai hosts top tennis players

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Ojai Valley News photo by Holly Roberts
Scout Mathews, a standout at Ojai’s Weil Tennis Academy, hammers a serve at this week’s New Balance High School National Championship, in Ojai. The 15-year-old Mathews entered as the No. 3 seed in the Girls’ 18 singles, but was defeated in the quarterfinals by Madeline Almeida of El Dorado Hills, Calif. See next week’s Ojai Valley News for the final results of the national championship event. 

VPS football set for fall action

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Ojai Valley News photo by Ken Brown
Senior quarterback Raegan Mang (right) and the Villanova Wildcats football squad hope to make the playoffs again this year. This year’s schedule for the Wildcats will include Bright Star, Aug. 26 (home); Desert, Sept. 1 (away); Riverside Academy, Sept. 9 (home); Pinewood, Sept. 16 (home); Bloomington Christian, Sept. 22 (away); Price, Sept 29 (home); Cate, Oct. 14 (away); Thacher, Oct. 21 (away); and Orcutt Academy, Oct. 28 (home).

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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