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WELCOME HOME: Friday’s sentencing of Ruben Hernandez...

WELCOME HOME: Friday’s sentencing of Ruben Hernandez for abducting his three sons (B1) isn’t the only success for the district attorney’s child abduction and recovery unit. Since Jan. 1, the unit has recovered 43 children kidnaped by their non-custodial parents, says Deputy Dist. Atty. Pam Grossman. The unit--with two attorneys, one investigator and two child recovery specialists--has 18 ongoing cases involving about 25 children. “We always get our kid,” Grossman said. “It may be sometime later than sooner, but we always get our kid.”

SPIRIT OF GIVING: One man who really feels this area’s corporate downsizing is Ernest F. (Ernie) Thurmond, new president of United Way of Ventura County. Local job cuts already mean that some $250,000 won’t be donated this year, but Thurmond is confident the organization can surpass last year’s $5.3-million goal. “Contributions have gone up in each of the last two years,” he said.

BURN, BABY, BURN: Summeet Mitter is fascinated with a laser hole burned through a penny during a science demonstration at Moorpark College (B1), but physics professor Clint Harper says lasers have much more practical uses. The concentrated light beams are used to create pin-sized holes in baby-bottle nipples and in aerosol-spray nozzles. Lasers also make ventilation holes in cigarettes. “Our high-tech industry is killing people more efficiently,” laments Harper.

CLEANUP: The Ventura Avenue Lions Club will help marshal hundreds of volunteers today to pick up debris from a one-mile stretch of the Ventura River bed, but the service organization has another special cleanup project under way. Since last month, the club has been working to repair and reopen Dennison Park in Upper Ojai, which has been closed for at least eight years. “The goal is to provide a cost-free venue for handicapped children and the general public in Ventura County,” says Lions Club member Frank Ybarra.

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