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JULY 2, 2010
Top Model tryouts come to Brentwood by Samie Hartley Staff Writer
It’s time to start dusting off your runway strut – America’s Next Top Model is coming to Brentwood. Producers from the popular model competition reality show will be at the Streets of Brentwood on Saturday, July 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for an open casting call, the show’s only Northern California audition for Cycle 16. While host Tyra Banks will not be present for this preliminary audition, Streets of Brentwood General Manager Tracey Nobil said the event will be the opportunity of a lifetime. “We’re really excited to be hosting the Northern California auditions this year,” Nobil said. “While the casting call is open to anyone in the United States, at least one person from this casting call is guaranteed to move on to the next round of auditions, so who knows? Maybe someone from Brentwood or our neighboring cities will have a shot at becoming America’s Next
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Top Model.” While the show’s producers have visited the Bay Area in the past, Nobil said they wanted to step outside of San Francisco to reach a new demographic by staging this year’s auditions in Contra Costa County. Auditions will take place at the Broadway Under the Stars stage, located across from the soccer field. Po t e n t i a l contestants must be female United States citizens between the ages of 18 and 27. While the contest’s height requirement states that applicants must be at least 5 feet 7 inches or taller, producers reserve the right to make caseby-case exceptions. Applicants are requested to bring a portfolio consisting of three photos: a close-up shot, a full-length photo with entire body clothed, and a full-length photo with the applicant wearing a swimsuit. Applicants will also be asked to demonstrate their best runway walk. Those who plan to audition must see Auditions page 15A
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Liberty High School teacher Beth Decker has entered a contest to become the next queen of daytime talk in the Your OWN Show competition hosted by Oprah Winfrey. Decker’s idea for the talk show is based on her Get Real! classroom courses. Press file photo
Liberty teacher to Get Real! for Oprah by Ruth Roberts Staff Writer
Last year, the continued success of her reality-check course called Get Real! and the nationwide publication of the program’s workbook prompted Beth Decker’s students to ask the Liberty High School teacher if her next step might be an appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Turns out, it might well be. Decker, who teaches a course for
freshman called Foundations for Success, has thrown her hat into the Oprah “Your OWN Show” ring – a competition dreamed up by Lady O to find the successor to her talk show crown. “I submitted a video based on their (the Winfrey show’s) rules and we’ll see what happens,” said Decker. “I’m an Oprah fan and I thought it might be fun to see what happens. You never know.” see Oprah page 15A
JULY 2, 2010
Salvation Army still makes a difference by Ruth Roberts Staff Writer Major Jacqueline Vaughnes-Smith is an officer in the Salvation Army, and every day she fights for the welfare of residents – especially young people – throughout East County. It’s hard, often heartbreaking work demanding long hours but little pay, but if you ask the 54-year-old what she gets out of it, the answer is simple. “Well, I’m going to heaven,” laughed Vaughnes-Smith. “I am. But on a daily basis I’m just tickled to be with these kids and to help them in any way we can. Our biggest mission is to get these kids off the streets. You know the dropout rate in our area is so high, and we just try to help in whatever way we can.” Vaughnes-Smith is a tireless example of the how the 145-year-old organization’s Antioch chapter continues to make a difference. And one way the small but dedicated staff is doing that is through its successful summer camp program. Now in its 11th year, the eight-week day camp provides a positive, fun and productive program for K-7 kids. For a modest $65 per week, the camp provides breakfast, lunch and a snack, as well as outings, companionship and most importantly, learning. “This isn’t a summer day care center. Our emphasis is on the children’s incoming school year and helping them to get ready, to give them a leg up,” said Vaughnes-Smith. “But
Photo courtesy of the Salvation Army
Sign-ups for the Salvation Army’s summer day camp program in Antioch are still underway. The eight-week camp runs through August. we also have crafts and trips to places such as Chuck E. Cheese or Paradise Skate when we can. This year we have a certified lifeguard coming in to teach the children how to swim. This is the first time we’ve had this, so it’s very exciting.” And this season, due to the cancellation of the Antioch school district’s summer school program and the closure of some of the local YMCA day care programs, enrollment in the Salvation Army summer camp program is way up. “We’ve never had this many kids, and they’re coming from everywhere,” said Vaughnes-Smith. “Money is tight, but we’re going to be here for the kids. We’re going to continue
the work.” One of the ways the work continues is through private donations – something many don’t understand. “A lot of individuals think we’re funded by organizations like the United Way, but we’re not,” said Vaughnes-Smith. “All the dollars we raise are through donations we’re able to get ourselves. There is no magic Salvation Army in the sky – it stops here.” And because the economy has affected organizations such as the Salvation Army, donations are down, but the need remains high. Most well known for its holiday bell-ringing drive, the Salvation Army has in the past paid individuals to stand outside local stores and solicit donations. This year, however, the
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Army is trying something different. “One of our strategies is to try and do some volunteer bell ringing,” said Vaughnes-Smith. “What we earn at the holidays is 50 percent of our yearly budget. Last year in East County we raised $78,000, but we paid out $44,000 to our workers. So we’ve developed a very aggressive campaign this year to promote volunteer bell ringers. We’re hoping it will be a success.” But if donations in volunteer time are difficult for some, donations of another kind are always welcome. “We’re always happy to get cash donations,” said Vaughnes-Smith. “That’s something we always need. But I tell people: don’t send me any old clothes or sweaters – that all goes to the adult rehab center and we get none of that (profit). Send me money; that we can always use.” And as the Salvation Army organization continues to make a difference in the lives of East County youth and residents, the lives of Vaughnes-Smith and her staff also continue to be changed. “We are blessed, all of us,” she said. “This job and this life gives me so much more than I could have imagined. I would not trade one day of it. I’ve been here for over 15 years and this is where I’ll stay. It’s a good life.” For information on the summer camp program, volunteer opportunities or to make a donation, call the Salvation Army at 925778-0808, or visit www.salvationarmy.org To comment, visit www.thepress.net.
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JULY 2, 2010
America’s drug habit becomes Mexico’s war by Corey Hunt Correspondent Brentwood native Corey Hunt traveled to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in the hope of giving his fellow Americans a glimpse of the situation down there – a situation that has a number of roots leading directly back to the United States, from growing drug consumption to guns and illegal immigration. This week is the first of his two-part report. I walk up to the police checkpoint, arousing suspicion from the security forces standing guard, just as any visitor would at the headquarters of Mexico’s Federal Police forces in Ciudad Juarez, a border city separated from El Paso, Texas, by the Rio Grande. Armed commandos stand around me, scanning my passport and transcribing the information on my media credentials. As a blond American from San Francisco, it’s clear that I don’t exactly fit the description of a foot soldier or an informant working at the behest of Mexico’s most infamous drug lords, but the “Federales” take no chances. Eventually, I’m escorted into the command center, a policeman at my side who, like all the federal officers who have flooded Ciudad Juarez, makes it clear that he’s in control – and carries an assault rifle to back it up. This was the scene that unfolded before I was introduced to Officer Ulises
Photo by Corey Hunt
A pickup truck ﬁlled with armed commandos patrols Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Brentwood resident Corey Hunt recently visited the city torn by drug wars to witness conditions himself. Rodriguez, who was kind enough to help answer some of my questions about Mexico’s ongoing struggle to wrest control of its northern border from drug cartels who have turned Ciudad Juarez – once an economic powerhouse and world-class city – into one of the most dangerous places in the world. Violence – often of Al-Qaeda- and jihadist-style proportions – has erupted
since the drug cartels were drawn out from the shadows and forced to protect their lucrative trade as President Felipe Calderon fights to rid Mexican society of it. At the same time, the cartels are locked in a bitter power struggle. Strongman Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who heads the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, is intent on driving out the Juarez cartel, which has traditionally controlled its namesake city.
I began by asking Rodriguez about the most recent story that put the city into the international headlines: the shooting of 15-year old Sergio Hernandez by a U.S. border patrol agent in early June. “This incident was tragic,” said Rodriguez, shaking his head. “But the U.S. authorities are professional – we have a good working relationship with them. Mexican Federal Police and the United States border patrol are working together to figure out what happened. Officials from U.S. law enforcement usually visit Juarez two or three times per week.” It remains unclear what the teenager was doing at the border, but what is clear is that he is just one of many victims – during the month of June, the city has been averaging as many as 10 homicides per day, according to statistics from the El Paso Times. However, the monthly death toll is down from last summer, which saw more than 300 killings in August. Rodriguez stressed the importance of a trustworthy relationship between the United States and Mexico, stating that the battle against drug trafficking has no boundaries and will involve cooperation on both sides of the border. While Mexico’s government and its security forces have been organizing and operating in the midst of what many observers consider a war zone, Rodriguez praised the unprecedented coordination see War page 20A
DO SHORT SALES COST ME MONEY? Every day I get a list of the homes coming up for foreclosure that day. And every day I am surprised to see that many of these homes have not been on the market recently. I always wonder why they didn’t at least try a short sale first? Maybe they’ve been told that the lender is about to approve a loan modification for them, and they get surprised when the lender actually goes ahead with the foreclosure. Often the loan modification department and the foreclosure department don’t communicate well. Or maybe the homeowner stopped opening their mail and didn’t know the foreclosure date was so close. I’ve seen lenders send the same collection letters over and over, so I can see why the homeowner stops opening the letters. Or maybe they have filed bankruptcy, and simply don’t think that a foreclosure versus a short sale will make a difference to their credit. Or maybe they are just so burned out on the process that they are just mentally and physically exhausted by the process and are just ready to be “done.” But my guess would be that many of them think that a short sale will cost them money in
the form of commissions, closing costs, etc. And since they don’t have any equity in the home, they don’t think they can afford to do a short sale. If you are in this situation, it’s important that you understand that the lender normally pays the commissions and closing costs (even past due property taxes) as part of the short sale settlement process. This means that while the homeowner won’t get any money at close of escrow, they also aren’t coming to the table with any money, either. There are a few short sales where the lender does ask the homeowner to contribute some money and/or sign a promissory note for the deficiency. But you retain veto power over that. You don’t have to move forward with the short sale if you don’t approve the terms. If you are in this situation, please call me to discuss your situation. There is no charge and no obligation. 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 – Advertisement
JULY 2, 2010
Bay Area band The Floorshakers rock out at the Lions Club Concert last month.
Photo by Chris Finetti
DB Lions to host summer events Despite major winds, about 700 residents came out June 19 to the Discovery Bay at the Yacht Harbor and the Lions Club Concert featuring the Floorshakers. “The nine-piece band was exactly what everyone wanted to hear,” said Jim Mattison of the Lions Club. “Although it was supposed to end at 8:30, the band kept playing and the crowd kept on dancing. Everyone kept telling me what a great time they were having and asked when we were having the next concert. “We couldn’t have pulled this off without our band sponsors, Marples and Associates, California Boat Lifts, Rob Broocker Painting, and Discovery Bay Dental. We would also like to thank the Boardwalk Grill for donating a portion of its proceeds back to the Lions
Club. It was great to see so many people having such a fun time and supporting our community efforts.” Other events held by the DB Lions Club this summer include the annual Golf Challenge on Aug. 9; the Boat, Bike and Hot Rod Show on Aug. 12; and the Big Cat Poker Run on Aug. 14. On Sept. 11, the Lions hosts their Roar, Rumble & Ride – Motorcycle Poker Run, and the inaugural Car Show, as well as the popular Rally ’Round the Lake, which will be held Sept. 12. “We will also be looking to have one more concert in late August,” said Mattison. For more information on all the DB Lions Club events or to be a Lions Club member, visit www.discoverybaylions.com.
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