YOUR HOMETOWN WEEKLY NEWSPAPER ward Winning News al A pa
Vol. 9, No. 33
Including Nearby Communities
Mirant to kick in $1.7M if plant OK’d by Dave Roberts Staff Writer An energy company’s plan to build a new power plant on Wilbur Avenue might also energize the recreational activities at the Antioch Community Center, which is due to open a year from now in Prewett Park. Mirant Corporation has agreed to give the City of Antioch $1.7 million for community benefits in exchange for city officials’ support for its plan to build the Marsh Landing Generating Station next to its existing Contra Costa Power Plant on Wilbur Avenue (the one with the giant smokestack). Ironically, the plant site is not in Antioch – it’s under county control. But city officials hope to annex the Wilbur Avenue area into Antioch in the future. Some or most of the $1.7 million, most of which would be doled out in the first few years of the plant’s operation, could be used to help pay for the operation and maintenance of the Antioch Community Center, Economic Development Director Guy Bjerke told the City Council at its July 28 meeting. Currently, with
the city in the throes of a severe budget crisis, there’s a chance that the community center could open in August of 2010 without much money to provide staffing for programs and activities. Councilman Brian Kalinowski said he appreciates the offer of $1.7 million but believes it’s inadequate compensation for a plant that could be in operation for 50 years on Wilbur Avenue. “I’m not trying to say, ‘Shame on you for $1.7 million,’” he said. “But if we polled everybody in the audience, they would say, ‘For 30 to 50 years, that’s a hell of a bargain.’” Kalinowski asked Mirant California President John Chillemi to commit to increasing that amount. Chillemi responded that he doesn’t have the authority to make that commitment on his own, but added, “We have an existing business here and we have shown a corporate commitment. But with this type of investment … I would anticipate stepping up to the community even more so.” Councilman Reggie Moore encouraged him to follow through on that, saying it would help ensure see Mirant page 22A
Species not endangered
Seniority hits a snag Columnist Vicki McKenna found – to her dismay – that turning 50 is all it’s cracked up to be.
Photo by Dave Roberts
No frills, lots of thrills
Mirant Corporation is proposing to build a new 930-megawatt power plant next to its existing plant, seen here, on Wilbur Avenue.
by Dave Roberts Staff Writer
The Democratic candidates to represent the 10th Congressional District, from left, are: John Garamendi, Anthony Woods, Adriel Hampton, Joan Buchanan and Mark DeSaulnier.
August 14, 2009
Two Scouts received plaques – and Eagle wings – for their service to the community.
Political contrasts at candidate forum
Photo by Dave Roberts
There is little philosophical difference between the five Democrats seeking to represent the 10th Congressional District, which includes Antioch and Oakley. And there’s little philosophical difference between the six Republicans who are also seeking to fill the congressional seat vacated when Ellen Tauscher recently took a job in the U.S. State Department. But there’s a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon be-
tween the philosophies of the two parties on issues such as energy, immigration, health care and foreign policy, as revealed in a candidate forum at St. Mary’s College Tuesday night. The only issue all of the candidates agreed on is the need for more fiscal responsibility in government spending. The top vote getters from each party in the Sept. 1 special primary election will face off in the general election in November – unless one candidate wins see Candidates page 22A
The Gladiators’ shoestring budget didn’t prevent them from taking the silver at a recent national tournament.
INSIDE Calendar ..........................23B Classifieds ........................14B Cop Logs ..........................16A Entertainment ................10B Food .................................12B Health & Beauty ............... 8B History ...............................6A Milestones ......................... 6B Opinion ...........................15A Sports ................................. 1B Talk About Town ..............5A WebExtras! ....................... 1B
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Comment on news stories, letters to the editor and blogs at www.thepress.net. See page 20A.
FOR MOVIE TIMES SEE PAGE 5A
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AUGUST 14, 2009
The Third World becomes a special world by Ruth Roberts Staff Writer
The intent behind Ryann Newman’s trip to the forests of Bosnia was to make a difference in the lives of others. But as Newman quickly discovered, the life that was most impacted was her own. “I went into this really wanting to make an imprint on them (the people of Bosnia),” said Newman, 29. “But the imprint, I’ve learned, was really on me.” The Oakley resident and Los Medanos College student has recently returned from a month abroad: two weeks in Bosnia followed by another two weeks in Croatia as part of a group called International Student Volunteers, Inc. The nonprofit organization offers volunteer opportunities to students around the world in a variety of conservation and community development projects. Travel with a purpose is how the program is billed, and what’s different about the organization is that following a two-week volunteer stint, students have the option of continuing on for another two-week adventure tour in a nearby host country. Newman, who chose Bosnia as her volunteer location largely because “I wanted to go to a place where I wouldn’t typically go,” spent two weeks clearing forests, building bridges and restoring trails. And despite the fact that the war there ended nearly 15 years ago, Newman said the people and the countryside still bear
Photo courtesy of Ryann Newman
Ryann Newman, center, works on building a bridge in Mehoric, Bosnia. The Oakley resident spent two weeks this summer working in the forests of Bosnia as part of an international volunteer group. the scars of the conflict. “It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous country,” said Newman. “but you can still see the effects of the war: bullet holes in houses and missing parts of roofs, things like that. At
first they (local residents) couldn’t understand why we were there – the concept of volunteering – because basically they work just to survive. But they were so kind to us, so accepting.”
Newman and her 11 co-workers stayed in a tiny town called Kakanj and made the trek each morning up the mountain to the Mehoric forest, where they spent the day clearing the forest of garbage (“they didn’t understand that a plastic bottle buried 20 years ago is still there”) and working side by side with forestry employees. While the accommodations were primitive – no toilets, hot water or showers – the hospitality was first-rate. Each day a woman who lived nearby would visit Newman’s group, bringing them food and materials to help them get acclimated to their surroundings. Even the mayor got into the act, said Newman, periodically sending people from the village up to the mountain with additional supplies. “That was really appreciated,” said Newman. “Because it took us over an hour to get into town. People just couldn’t do enough for us; they were so gracious. I’ve made some friends there for life.” And with no TVs, iPods or computers to distract them, Newman and her group had plenty of time to make friends. “We all became very close very quickly by sharing this experience,” she said. “We would spend hours just drinking coffee around the camp and talking. I had books that I brought and I didn’t even get to them. “The first couple of days were hard; I went in expecting hot water and showers and toilets, but got used to bathing in the see Third World page 19A
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AUGUST 14, 2009
TALK ABOUT TOWN his week’s Gratuitous Detail Award goes to the Brentwood Police ofﬁcer who logged an incident involving a woman who pushed another woman’s head into a vehicle – after she had grabbed the woman “by her hairpiece.” But who knows? Maybe some arcane Brentwood ordinance metes out special punishment for toupee transgressions. • • • n case you were wondering why ﬁreﬁghters like Jimmy Laughlin, seen here at Balfour Road and Fairview Avenue in Brentwood, were standing in trafﬁc brandishing footwear recently, it was all part of the Fill the Boot fundraising effort for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Members of the International Association of Fire Fighters have been doing the same thing all across the country in recent months, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to help ﬁght the dreaded disease, while at the same time making local gridlocks a bit more interesting. • • • ed means stop – or is it yield? Drivers making a right-hand turn from Discovery Bay Boulevard onto Willow Lake Road recently might have felt like they passed into the Twilight Zone. It seems the county and Public Works Department are in a push-me-pull-you predicament as to whether the turn
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from DB Boulevard onto Willow Lake Road should be controlled by a stop sign or a yield sign. Over the past few weeks the signs have changed so often that drivers have been stopped and ticketed for going through a stop sign that the day before was a yellow yield. Frustration abounds, but hope springs eternal that the powers that be will eventually become of one mind – or at least one sign. • • • itizens of Oakley and neighboring communities came out big time to support Ally Jenkins on Monday night during a fundraiser at Oakley’s Black Bear Diner. Nearly $12,000 was raised
– the sandwiches sold out in just two hours – to support the Oakley teen stricken with pulmonary hypertension on July 27 and remains in intensive care at UCSF. Special T-shirts have been made to raise money for Ally’s trust fund. The shirts, which cost $15, are available at the Diner, located at 3201 Main St. Also on sale are special wristbands, and a custom-made Johnny Cash afghan blanket, on display at the Diner, is being rafﬂed off as well. The fund-raising continues all this month at Yogurt Pizazz in Brentwood. For more information, visit www.caringbridge. org/visit/allyjenkins. –Compiled by Press Staff
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AUGUST 14, 2009
Lake Tahoe – the odyssey of a name William Mero
John Marsh Historical Trust How many know that a famous Brentwood-Byron pioneer, Robert Dean, was responsible for naming Lake Tahoe? Dean was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. in 1831. Arriving in California in 1850, he first tried his luck in the gold fields. By 1853 he was working in the Brentwood area as a haying hand on Dr. John Marsh’s huge Rancho Los Meganos. In 1854, Dean was collecting blueberries along the banks of the San Joaquin River near Stockton when a giant grizzly attacked. Only the arrival of friends saved his life. The bear was killed but only after Dean’s abdomen was ripped open by the enraged beast. Dean spent the next six months recovering from his dreadful wounds. Dean eventually returned to the gold fields, ran a hotel in the Sierras, and participated in the famous Comstock silver rush. He returned to Brentwood in 1870 and worked for the Balfour-Guthrie and McNear grain interests. As a businessman, banker and newspaper writer, Dean was well known throughout the county. This article is largely based on his personal papers that were recently donated to the Contra Costa History Society. In his own handwriting, there is a detailed description of how Lake Tahoe received its name. These notes were the basis for a
Photo courtesy of Contra Costa History Center
Lake Tahoe would be known today as Bigler Lake if not for the efforts of Brentwood-area resident Robert Garwood Dean, seen here in around 1920 with his wife, Jerusha. Dean led the effort to change the lake’s name because of the pro-slavery, pro-Southern posture of its original namesake, Gov. John Bigler. short article that appeared in a 1908 edition of Sunset Magazine In 1852 the state legislature received word that a large, ill-prepared party of
YMCA looks to the future Did you know that the YMCA practically invented basketball, volleyball, softball, camping, adult education, Boy Scouts, Father’s Day and much more? It’s true: the YMCA has been around for 165 years – and more than 50 years in Contra Costa County. My name is Bob Wollenzien and I have spent more than 35 years in the YMCA movement, recently taking on the responsibility of developing and expanding services in East County. Although the YMCA in East County is focused primarily in Oakley and Antioch, we’re looking to reach out into the Pittsburg, Brentwood, Knightsen and Discovery Bay communities. The YMCA’s current facility, slated for expansion, is located in Oakley and is available to all East County residents. What are the needs of our communities? The YMCA is in the process of asking residents and business leaders that question. The Mount Diablo Region YMCA is conducting a needs assessment as it relates to a strategic planning process to help provide a direction for the YMCA over the next five years. Although the YMCA does plan on running programs such as aquatics, youth sports, childcare, health and wellness in most if not all
of East County, programs such as job training, ESL, healthy cooking and affordable after-school programs could all be part of new opportunities and programs. As you can tell from our mission statement – “The Mount Diablo Region YMCA is a values-based association founded on Judeo-Christian principles, dedicated to enriching the lives of all people through programs that strengthen the spirit, mind and body” – the YMCA is a broad and diverse organization. Our programs are developed and created based on the needs of the people and community we serve – that’s what makes the YMCA unique. Program development has and will continue to be part of our history. What are your needs and those of your community? If there’s a gap, think about the Y. We will work with you to help meet those needs. What can you expect in the next five years? An Expanded YMCA facility, diverse programs in ALL of East County, a YMCA that’s the hub of the community, a safe place for children, teens, adult and seniors. Please contact us at 925-625-9333 for more information on the YMCA and its programs. – Advertisement
immigrants were attempting to cross the Sierra. Money was hastily appropriated and the Democratic governor, John Bigler, quickly dispatched supplies to the
Sierra. Bigler and friends arrived in the Tahoe basin with the supply-laden pack train. In those early days, Lake Tahoe was informally known as “Mountain Lake.” The governor and his friends took the opportunity to enjoy the valley’s excellent fishing and hunting. Evidently the behavior of our politicians has changed little in 150 years. Although in reality it was the California taxpayers who were responsible, the governor had few problems accepting the credit from the grateful immigrants. Bigler’s large party then proceeded to Hangtown (later known as Placerville). A large, festive banquet was held in appreciation of the immigrants’ rescue. After the participants had swallowed numerous toasts, one of the governor’s friends proposed that Mountain Lake be renamed “Bigler Lake.” The well-oiled crowd enthusiastically adopted this suggestion. For the next 10 years, “Bigler Lake” went unchallenged. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Bigler was revealed as a strong Southern, pro-slavery sympathizer and an active participant in a plot to separate California from the Union. In 1862, Dean was the manager of a popular resort hotel beside Bigler Lake, and a staunch Republican and strong Lincoln supporter. He became increasingly upset that this beautiful lake was named after see Tahoe page 8A
AUGUST 14, 2009
Not sure 50â€™s so nifty
seems content with himself. (I must say he did stop whistling for a moment the day he received his AARP card in the mail). I want to know who gave my name to the Scooter Store. Why do I keep getting their e-mails offering free financing for a Scooter Chair and a free â€œHandy Grabberâ€?? What is a Handy Grabber? Why, itâ€™s that clever claw-like contraption that allows you to grab things like, oh I donâ€™t know, maybe denture cream off the counter while sitting in your Scooter Chair! Ahhhhh! Iâ€™m beginning to glance over my shoulder, expecting to see the grim reaper standing there. In a panic, Iâ€™m wearing younger and younger clothes. I expect that soon Iâ€™ll be shopping at The Childrenâ€™s Place. Seriously, last week I bought a beach cover-up at Justice for Girls in size 16 (their largest size.) Pathetic! I am finding younger and younger men attractive. I flirted with a 20-year-old kid at a skate shop. He was probably really creeped out. Hey, can I be arrested for that? At 50 you are also encouraged to put yourself through a lot of grueling and humiliating medical tests. Katie Couric scared the heck out of me with her story about her poor husband dying of colon cancer. Tragic. So I thought I would get it over with. I know I had the delightful procedure done at a hospital, but quite honestly I think it was really Roto-Rooter! By the way, I will never eat lemon Jello again, as that is the only thing you can eat the day before the procedure. I ate two large serving bowls of it. Blah! My 7-year-old daughter recently put it all in perspective for me. I still lie with her at night before she falls asleep. I donâ€™t mind. I love gazing at her soft and dewy line-less face. Her long lashes and rosy lips. As I was admiring her, she asked, â€œCan you look this way? I want to see your beautiful face.â€? As she dozed off I realized that to her, I will always be beautiful, no matter how old I am. Maybe turning 50 isnâ€™t so scary after all.
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For all you youngsters out there â€“ and by â€œyoungsterâ€? I mean anyone under the age of 49 â€“ this column might not interest you. Itâ€™s a horror story really, because the day you wake up and realize you are a half-century old, you are consumed by a spine-tingling, blood- chilling, nauseating sensation. Fifty sneaks up HANGINâ€™ IN on you. Cliches like â€œWhere did the time HERE go?â€? and â€œIs this it?â€? suddenly apply to your life! I guess spending 20 years raising kids, trying to keep your marriage together and juggling bills and mortgage payments VICKI keeps you in such a MCKENNA frenzy of activity that one day you wake up and youâ€™re old! I have about two weeks left before the fateful day of reckoning. My teenagers are reveling in the glory of it all. They know I am petrified. They count down the moments and love to twist the knife. â€œCan you believe youâ€™re going to be fifty, Mom?â€? they ask with cruel delight in their eyes. â€œCan you be a grandma at 50?â€? â€œYes,â€? I secretly say to myself, but pray that my daughters donâ€™t make it so. Yet. My sons try to make me feel better by saying I look good â€œfor my age.â€? Donâ€™t you hate that little add-on? What should 50 look like, anyway? Phyllis Diller? I find Iâ€™m spending more time staring at my face in the mirror with my reading glasses on. As I view the fright fest, I vow to get a second job and get all the expensive treatments available at my dermatologistâ€™s office. I make a note to buy really good vitamins and apply sunscreen daily. My husband turned 50. He doesnâ€™t seem concerned at all! I guess men like wrinkles and dry skin. Perhaps itâ€™s a sign of power and hard work. He still whistles and
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MORE â€œPHANTOM INCOMEâ€? ISSUES Iâ€™ve been doing more research into the issue surrounding tax owed on â€œphantom incomeâ€? in regards to cancelled debt. This is where you may owe ordinary income tax on any debt you owe that is cancelled. This is something of a hot topic these days with all the people going through short sales, foreclosures, or loan modifications. [Iâ€™ve mentioned this many times before, but itâ€™s worth repeating. There is an exclusion to paying this tax if you are insolvent, which means your debts exceed your assets.] I discovered two items of interest recently. One I should have been aware of, the other was not quite so obvious. The first one is that cancellation of debt income is NOT just for mortgage debt. So this means if you have HOA dues that are forgiven, or property taxes, or any other bill that is cancelled or forgiven, you may have â€œphantom incomeâ€? tax due. I think most of us in real estate assume that the phantom income situation deals only with the loans on your home, but it is much
broader than that, unfortunately. So this can apply at any point in your life if you have a car loan cancelled, student loan forgiven, etc. There is an exclusion if the lender intended to cancel this debt as a â€œgiftâ€? to you. So if your debt was owed to a relative, you might be able to make the gift exclusion work if that was their intent, but that may cause other wrinkles in regards to their estate and gift taxes. Iâ€™ll talk about the second issue I just discovered in my next article. It is something that may cause the phantom income tax issue hang over your head for years to come. Please see the appropriate tax/legal expert for advice in regards to your specific situation. If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). To search the MLS for free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty â€“ Advertisement
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