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NEIGHBORS : Oodles of Notice : Helene Sanchez, a youngish 74, wins beauty honors in Florida; Art City pairs images and voices, and SMIRFs mind a mine.


Congratulations to Helene Sanchez of Leisure Village. She's back from Florida after finishing second runner-up in the Beauties of America contest, 60-plus division. At 74 years old, she was the plus-est of the group.

Not only did Sanchez have a great finish, but she came away with honors in some of the individual categories. She won awards for her costume (a Spanish bolero outfit, which she wore as the sole California representative), her bathing suit and her hair.

She also finished second in the "best legs" contest. "That was a real surprise to me," she said. "I thought, 'Wait a minute. I never dreamt of this.' "


For those of you who have spent hours, days maybe, wondering what a voice looks like--and haven't we all--now may be your opportunity to find out.

The new show at Ventura's Art City II, titled "Voices," includes 17 drawings by artist Kim Loucks, all of which center around a recurring character that symbolizes "unheard voices."

Loucks got the idea for this person (or thing) with mouth open, when listening to a Requiem and watching the singers form the sounds with their mouths.

In the show, Loucks artwork is accompanied by Paul Lindhard's sculptures and a soundtrack of voices recorded by composer Ted Killian. The voices are those of people Loucks works with at the Turning Point Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps disadvantaged people. Actually, the "Voices" exhibit really began to take shape while Loucks was teaching an art class at the foundation.

"I said (to the class), 'Let's just draw things from our imagination,' and I got blank stares," said Loucks. "So I told them about the Requiem." While the students tried to draw their ideas of voices, Loucks worked on her's. "The creature," she said, "was born."


Art City II, Part II: The Voices exhibit will run through Sept. 26 and on certain occasions special guests will be on hand to add to the fun.

On Sept. 5 the trio "Mahacuisinarte" (notice the "e" on the end for that artsy touch), headed by Ventura musician Jeff Kaiser, will perform a piece called "Birth of the Blender."


Earlier this month the Southern Pacific Milling Co. asked Ventura County to delay its environmental review of a proposed 502-acre mining project at Boulder Creek, near Fillmore. It was just the latest development in a project that has been in the works since late 1990.

As you might imagine, the whole mining idea has stirred up its share of controversy.

Of course it's a very serious issue, but there is one thing we're having a hard time taking seriously--the name of one of the groups opposing the proposal. It's called "Stop Mining in Rural Fillmore."

Spelled out, the name is fine. But when put into acronym form, which the organization likes to do, it comes out as SMIRF.

Can you really put up a tough fight with a name like that?


The Ventura County Fair kicked off Wednesday, and it seems there's something for just about everyone. For instance, there's the "Pocket Pets" competition.

That's right, pocket pets.

What's a pocket pet, you ask? A hamster, mouse, or rat. We're sure the entrants will be cute enough, but the thought of a rat in the pocket rubs us the wrong way.

For those of you who aren't squeamish when it comes to rodents, judging will take place from 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Fairgrounds Youth Building.

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