ePilot, Vol. II, Number 5, February 2016


“We’re a Part of the Community”

Capt. Chris Janke explains operations at NBVC

In a recent address to the Port Hueneme Chamber of Commerce, Capt. Chris Janke, Commodore of Naval Base Ventura County, emphasized the activity and community impact of our local Navy base.

With over 80 tenants, three warfare centers, three active SeaBee battalions plus reserves, 19 miles of railway, 2100 acres of environmentally sensitive salt marsh, over $1.9 billion per year of economic impact, and, oh yeah, four Army boats,  there is no question that NBVC is one of the more important facilities on the West Coast.

“My mission is to support our tennants with their missions,” Capt. Janke explained.

The challenge of operating and maintaining a facility that extends from Port Hueneme to Point Mugu, to San Nicolas Island, and “over the horizon” to thePacific Test Range is obvious.  Even on San Miguel Island the Navy has been working with the National Park Service to clear remnants of unexploded ordnance.

There is a great push to make San Nicolas Island more more energy independent.  “Owning an island is expensive,” the Captain said.  All supplies have to be brought in either by boat or aircraft.  Consequently, the Navy is using SNI as an example of self-sufficiency by demonstrating advances in alternative energy, and sea water treatment.

However, there won’t be any solar electricity production.  In response to a question by Camarillo Mayor Mike Morgan, the Capt. Janke explained that the reflection from solar panels interferes with the vision of pilots trying to land at the island’s airstrip. On the other hand, the Navy is working hard on battery technology that will smooth the transition when it’s necessary to switch from wind to diesel generation.

As might be expected in a facility that dates from WW II, aging infrastructure consumes much of the Captain’s attention. Officer housing, including the Captain’s residence, occupies much of the old gas mask training area – an area in need of toxic clean up. 

The challenges of running a facility such as NBVC often revolve around issues of money. Every new mission requires support. Dangers in the world today require more security. The one question Capt. Janke always asks when requested to take on an additional task is “Does it come with more funding?” 


“There’s a Lot of Hyperbole Out There”

Kristin Decas and COO John Demers answer questions

Oxnard Harbor District Chief Executive Officer Kristin Decas recently addressed the Surfside IV Homeowners’ Association in a meeting that was billed as a presentation on the Harbor District’s plans for the Ventura County Railroadwhich runs through several residential neighborhoods in Port Hueneme.

Claiming a $1.1 billion impact to the county as a whole, Ms. Decas asserted that, “The Port doesn’t exist to get rich, it exists to enrich the county.”

Facing a skeptical audience, the CEO explained that the Ventura County Railroad was not actually owned by the Oxnard Harbor District, but rather by a Limited Liability Corporation with the Harbor Commissioners serving as a Board of Directors and Ms. Decas as Chief Executive Officer.

The trains themselves are run by a contractor, Genessee and Wyoming, a company that operates railroads worldwide.  G&W has an “option to buy” the tracks and right of way.

As reported exclusively in ePilot No. 10, Ms. Decas once again asserted that “the operator has a right to use [the railroad].”

Despite assertions that operations on the Surfside line would be only about four trains per year, several homeowners expressed concerns about noise, pollution, and vibrations.

“It’s literally in my backyard,” complained one owner. “Vibration cracks slabs, it cracks walls. Who’s got the responsibility?” he asked.

“My property loss will be 50%,” another owner said.

“There’s been a lot of hyperbole out there,” Ms. Decas responded and suggested that “no run” times and limits on the length of trains could be imposed.  Many of the neighbors’ concerns were “questions for the operator,” she said.

In addition to the Surfside line, VCRR also operates the Patterson line that crosses Channel Islands Blvd. 

When asked if OHD could guarantee that only four trains per year would use the tracks, Ms. Decas admitted that the number could be as high as 17.  “I don’t see anything happening, but I can’t say it will never happen,” she said.


Emergency Call Takers Get High Marks

edical professionals from the regularly review medical calls from each agency in the county.   They specifically track cardiac care cases and survival rates from first ring to a call transfer, dispatch, care on scene, transport to hospital and through the patients release from medical care.  Their ultimate goal is to save more lives by paring down the time frame of each step in the process of rendering aid.       

In their review of calls from the first six months of last year, Port Hueneme received a perfect score.  Each call was quickly answered, jurisdiction determined and transferred to the proper agency.  The reviewers, a seasoned doctor and nurse, meticulously dissected every aspect of every call, finding no errors.  

The call takers reviewed were:  SSDM Hanely,  Sergeant Graham, Dispatcher Galvan, Dispatcher Cerda and Dispatcher (now Officer) Montelongo.  

History by the Minute

Beverly Merrill Kelley

Let’s face it, we’re all busy people.  We’d love to learn more about our hometown but who has the time?  This column will feature highlights that can be read in a minute or two.  And rest assured, the information comes from the considerable resources of the Port Hueneme Historical Society.  If your interest is piqued to learn more, visit the museum on Market Street or send your questions via email to kelley@callutheran.edu.
“Grandpa” was a skinny sapling in 1622.  The tree sprouted 79 years after Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo died on Christmas Day on Santa Catalina Island (which he called “San Salvador”) but 250 years before Thomas Bard laid out the town he called “Hueneme” (from the Chumash word for “resting place”) because it was located halfway between the two large Chumash settlements at Mugu and Ventura.
When Grandpa was still a seedling, the Chumash lived in over 150 independent villages along the central coast.  They spoke variations of the same language and much of their culture consisted of basketry, bead manufacturing and trading, cuisine of local abalone and clams, herbalism to produce teas and medical reliefs, rock art, and the sacred scorpion tree.
Nearly 400 years later, on August 4, 1997, a steady stream of Port Hueneme residents filed past “Grandpa” to reminisce, mourn, and pay their last respects to the Friendly City by the Sea’s oldest citizen.  “Grandpa” had finally succumbed to an evil colony of bark beetles that had taken advantage of the frailty that comes with old age.  The following day, 80 people attended a “wake” for the tree.  They held lighted candles aloft as members of the Chumash tribe burned sage and gave thanks to the tree.


Brick Wahl

I blame the English

OK, the flu morphed into a cold, cut with hay fever and a laryngitis that leaves me sounding like Mr. Peterson on the Bob Newhart Show.

Best part is having to repeat everything as I’m so inaudible, or not being heard when I say something and having to say it again, and again. So this is what it’s like to be a schlemiel, a wall flower, Jackie Gleason’s poor soul. Anyway, for a rigorously practicing unhyperchondriac, this is pushing my stoicism to the limit.

I’ve become one of those aging big guys who sits around the fire with other aging big guys, bemoaning our aches, pains, and general creakiness. Lo how the gnarliest man can be rendered squeaky and sniffling. February is the ickiest month, said the poet, sort of, breeding germs out of the stale air, fever and dry cough, mucus with dull pains. I thought winter was supposed to keep us warm. Cough. Cough. Hack.

Maybe I’m just tired of sleeping on the couch. A month on a loveseat, coughing away, while she stretches long in our perfect bed, deep asleep, healthy. Indians never get colds. Never get flus. Never get anything. The 90% of them who did catch colds and flus died of them long ago, the Spaniards saw to that, and the remaining ten per cent are super men and super women, a race of people to whom a cold is nothing, a mere virus, a little packet of DNA to be breathed in and coughed out, laughing.

Meanwhile my Irish half, stuck since the Stone Age on an island at the far edge of Eurasia, is susceptible to everything. It was that damn Cromwell, sneezing.

I blame the English.

–Read more Brick Wahl at brickwahl.com



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Support Live Music!

Serena Foster sings at the Waterside with John Foster on guitar

Hidden Track: Tank and the Bangas“The Rhythm of Life”

Copyright 2016 The Hueneme Pilot  All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

516 Island View Circle
Port Hueneme, California 93041

J. Sharkey, Editor and Publisher


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