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Rivers joins OVN team

web Brooke Schick Kim on Pashka

Photo by Brooke Schick

Kimberly Rivers the newest addition to the Ojai Valley News team on "Pashka." 

By Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News reporter

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The Ojai Valley News welcomed back to the newsroom Kimberly Rivers on March 21.

As a full-time reporter, the Meiners Oaks resident will cover city government, public schools, the environment and other local issues.

Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Santa Cruz, Rivers earned a pre-law degree at U.C. Santa Barbara.

During her sophomore year, she joined the school’s polo team. “Horses, not water,” said Rivers, who arranged her school schedule so she could play polo every afternoon. 

She took five years to graduate so she could get her full four years playing polo.

Out of college, Rivers worked for a couple of law firms in Santa Barbara and anticipated a career in law. She took the LSAT and was admitted to law school, “and I decided not to go. I got married and had a baby instead,” she said.

Fast forward a few years and the family moved to Piru, where Kimberly read the Fillmore Gazette and wrote letters to the editor about a school issue, “being quite critical of the coverage.”

The editor wrote back, complimenting her on her writing, and asked if she’d like to cover the issue for the newspaper. Stunned by the invitation, Rivers agreed and launched her career as a reporter.

After her son was born in 2005, Rivers began looking at schools and found Summit School in Upper Ojai.

The family moved to Ojai a few years later, and around that time she met future Ojai Valley News editor Marianne Ratcliff, who also had children attending Summit. “With her journalism background, she and I would talk and she encouraged me to keep writing,” Rivers said.

She began writing as a freelancer for the OVN and the VC Reporter.

A few years later, she was executive director of an area nonprofit.

Then it was time for a change, according to Rivers. “I really wanted to go back to reporting. I liked wearing that hat,” she said, so she took a full-time position at the VC Reporter.

Covering many stories each week countywide, she soon found that what she missed was digging deep into the issues. A regular “beat” at the OVN gives her that opportunity. “It’s a true, local independent news source, and I like the idea of being a part of that.” she said.

The role of the press as watchdog of local government is fundamental, according to Rivers. 

“We have so many local agencies that nobody’s paying attention to.” She said she plans on “holding local government accountable and informing the people so they can participate.”

In college, Rivers said she never considered herself a writer. But now, “I really enjoy being part of creating the historical archive of a community,” she said.

And working with other women in journalism, including owner and publisher Laura Rearwin Ward, will be enjoyable. “I’m super excited about the team,” Rivers said.

She replaces reporter Grant Phillips, who left for a job at a daily newspaper in Hawaii.

Rivers, whose guilty pleasures include reading vampire stories, spends her free time riding her horse “Pashka” and attending classes in pursuit of a law degree at the Ventura Campus of the Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law.

 

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