CALLING ALL HANDS: In some of Ventura...

CALLING ALL HANDS: In some of Ventura County's most remote areas, workers are fanning out to repair trails that were nearly washed away during the rains (B1). . . . Though rangers and other public employees oversee such efforts, volunteers often help. "We are always interested in volunteers," said Jean Bray, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service. . . . One big project coming up this spring: helping to clear the Backbone Trail. It's tough work--lots of bushwhacking and rock-moving--but helpers get a free lunch for the day's effort.

CLOSING THE GAP: It's become a familiar rite of spring, and county officials are warming up to the task. . . . The effort to find ways to climb out of a budget deficit is gearing up (B1). This year, the county is an estimated $41.7 million in the red. . . . For the first time in many years, they're making the cuts without former chief administrator Richard Wittenberg, who recently departed.

HISTORY BUFF: Gary Blum knows what a challenge it can be to preserve a piece of history. . . . Blum restored Petit House, a Queen Anne-style home that belonged to his great-grandparents and stands as the centerpiece of Oxnard's Heritage Square. Supervisors recently appointed Blum to the county's Cultural Heritage Board, which oversees preservation of historic buildings. He replaces Oxnard historian Madeline Miedema, who died late last year. "I was really honored," says Blum. . . . County officials also appointed Patricia Havens, Simi Valley's city historian, to a sixth term on the board.

WHEEL 'EM OUT: Make your appointment now. . . . The county has set its first Waste Tire Amnesty Day for Feb. 25. So bring your worn-out tires--and those that may have been illegally dumped on your property--to one of three drop-off locations. The event is part of a campaign to reduce the number of unsightly waste tires around the county. For an appointment, call 654-2889.

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