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IT’S YOUR PAPER January 17, 2014 925.672.0500 Dry year is flaming drought fears for local residents PEGGY SPEAR Clayton Pioneer While it seems as if the entire rest of the nation was huddled in a deep polar vortex, northern Californians have been enjoying blue skies, temperate heat and even sunbathing on the banks of Lake Tahoe. In January. It’s no secret that California has an arid, Mediterranean climate, but this year’s unseasonably dry weather still has many residents shivering in fear of the D-word: drought. “It’s scary,” says Clayton Pioneer weather columnist Woody Whitlatch, a former longtime PG&E meteorologist who has crunched rainfall data of the past 165 years. It is scary when you see that the 2013 calendar year was the driest on record, with only 5.59 inches of rain measured in San Francisco. The average is about 22.5 inches. The “water year,” which experts use, runs July 1 through June 30, and so far totals for this water year are shallow: just 2.08 inches of precipitation since July. The thought of a drought brings fears of severe water rationing, empty swimming pools, brown yards and reduced toilet flushing, all things that live in the memory of many local residents who experienced the severe drought of 1976-77. ARE WE IN A DROUGHT? One of those people is Contra Costa Water District spokesperson Jennifer Allen, who remembers the drought back then as a child growing up in the North Bay. “We put a brick in our toilets,” she says. “Now, thanks to low-flow toilets, that’s a thing of the past.” Still, she says it is impossible to call our dry weather pattern a drought because “all the information isn’t in yet,” she says. “We don’t know what the weather will bring this winter, or what the state water allocations will be.” See Drought page 6 Clayton woman finds her passion helping save African painted dogs A midlife Safari inspired Wendy Blakeley to found Zimbabwean nonprofit HANK STRATFORD MAYOR’S CORNER DENISEN HARTLOVE Clayton Pioneer Watch for persuasive snakes in 2014 Happy New Year! Self-discipline will be the focus of the Do the Right Thing character initiative during January and February. A definition of self-discipline that has stuck with me is doing what you know you should do when you don’t want to do it. One aspect of self-discipline is exercising self-control. This reminds me of a story I once heard, an old Native American legend. Many years ago, Native American youths would go away in solitude to prepare for manhood. One such youth hiked into a beautiful valley. There he fasted, and on the third day he decided to test himself against the mountain. He put on his buffalo-hide shirt, threw his blanket over his shoulders, and set off to climb the peak. When he reached the top, he could see forever, and his heart swelled with joy. Then he heard a rustle at his feet. Looking down, he saw a snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke: “I am about to die. It is too cold for me up here, and I am freezing. There is no food, and I am starving. Put me under your shirt and take me down to the valley.” “Oh, no,” said the youth. “I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you will bite me, and I will die.” “Not so,” said the snake. “I will treat you differently. If you do this for me, you will be special. I will not harm you.” The youth withstood his pleas for a while, but this was a very persuasive snake with beautiful markings. At last the youth tucked it under his shirt and See Mayor page 4 PHOTO COURTESY OF PAINTEDDOGS.ORG WENDY BLAKELEY, (RIGHT) AND HER ASSISTANT, AGNES NCUBE, VISIT A RURAL VILLAGE IN ZIMBABWE where they buy locally crafted baskets to sell to gift shops in the United States to support African Painted Dogs were a declining species until Wendy Blakeley's nonprofit helped to save the big-eared pack animals. Many parents, when faced with an emptying nest as their children leave behind their childhoods and head off to school, find activities to keep them busy. They may immerse themselves in volunteer work, turn their hobbies into home businesses, and, in some cases, start new careers. Wendy Blakely was no different. A single mom, she worked 45 hours a week at a civil rights law firm and started and ran a dance studio while raising her. So when he left to attend college at UC Davis in the early 1990s, she had a little bit of extra time. Turns out, an African safari was being planned by one of the school’s staff members. Blakely, never one to let moss See Painted Dogs pg 3 The Orchards Center to lay deep roots along YVR PEGGY SPEAR Clayton Pioneer The complexion of a very busy intersection at Ygnacio Valley and Oak Grove Roads, a critical part of the East Bay’s main artery to Clayton, will be changing in the next few years, thanks to an ambitious proposal at the Shadelands business park. Known as The Orchards at Walnut Creek, it is a planned shopping center that include 219,000 square feet of retail space, including a new 55,000square-foot Safeway grocery story, other “major tenants,” specialty shops, restaurants, 200units of senior housing, a children’s splash park and play area, green space and a mile of jogging trails. Just last week, Walnut Creek planners released the eagerly anticipated draft EIR, and community members have 45 days in which to comment. Meanwhile, across Ygnacio Valley Road, in the Encina Grande Shopping Center, a Whole Foods is slated to take over an enlarged space vacated by the smaller Safeway store, which will close when the newer, bigger one opens. It is part of a renovation of that center that will also see Walgreens move to the east end of the center and expand to include a drive-through. Safeway currently owns the See Orchards page 3 What’s Inside Around Town . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Church News . . . . . . . . . . .13 Classified . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Community Calendar . . . . . .9 Design and Décor . . . . . . . .15 Directory of Advertisers . . . . .5 THE PUBLIC WILL HAVE UNTIL FEB. 20 TO COMMENT ON THE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT for The Orchards, a major shopping and residential development planned for the corner of Oak Grove and Ygnacio Valley Rd. YVR is a major traffic corridor for those living in Clayton and Concord. To read the report, go to www. 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Jan 17 clayton pioneer 2014

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