YOUR HOMETOWN WEEKLY NEWSPAPER ward Winning News al A pa
Vol. 10, No. 52
Including Surrounding Communities
Caring expands as economy shrinks You can’t turn on your radio or TV these days without getting a full dose of bad news: the economy is tanking, and stores and restaurants are virtually empty as people hunker down to endure the tough times. The news, though, ON isn’t all bad, at least EADLINE not in far East County. A pair of community efforts, one old and one new, shone brightly last weekend, penetrating the gloom like the Christmas star two millennia ago. I’ve been fortunate enough to serve on the RICK board of directors for LEMYRE the Brentwood Regional Community Chest for five years now. The BRCC, founded by Rose Pierce, has been distributing food and toys to local families in need at Christmastime for three decades. Although there has always been tremendous public participation in the program that supports 500 families every year, we expected all the hunkering down would mean 2008 would be a lean year. I was even more concerned about a new program, based on the BRCC model and
December 26, 2008
The merging of mascots
A bagel shop provided the materials and the wall, and students supplied the creativity.
Page 5A Photo by Richard Wisdom
Olivia Scarborough, 4, hands a can of vegetables to Lisa Mitchener as Olivia’s grandmother, Magco Olson, works nearby. The three were among the hundreds of volunteers who helped with the BRCC Christmas Basket program last weekend. launched by Jim Frazier and the Friends of Oakley, who courageously set out to help 125 more local families for the first time. And sure enough, things started off pretty slow. Cash donations dropped significantly, and donation barrels placed in local
businesses filled slowly, now competing with barrels belonging to numerous other groups placed right alongside. I needn’t have worried so much. As last see Caring page 18A
Legendary high-tech wizard logs out by Dave Roberts Staff Writer Dennis Buckley, who worked as a teacher and hightech guru for the Liberty Union High School District long enough to see the children of the students he first taught walking the halls of district high schools, was honored recently upon his retirement. “This is one of those bittersweet moments where we thank and congratulate but also say goodbye to a very valued employee,” said District Superintendent Dan Smith at the Dec. 10 board meeting. “After 38-plus years of service to the Liberty Union High School District, Dennis has decided that it’s time to go on to the next phase in his life.” After earning a bachelor’s degree in physics and teaching credential from Chico State, Buckley was hired in 1970 to teach chemistry and physics at Liberty High. In 1984, he was
Photo by Dave Roberts
Dennis Buckley receives tokens of appreciation from Liberty Union High School District Board President Joanne Byer upon his retirement after 38½ years. honored as teacher of the year both for the district and the county. In addition to teaching for about 21 years, he served as the technical director for the performing arts center for 20 years and director of activities
at Liberty High School. Beginning in the early 1990s, Buckley became the technology expert for the district, launching its network system in 1992. “As a result, Dennis knows not only every piece of technology in the district but where every
technology line and hidden computer is,” said Smith. Buckley joked, “And where the skeletons are buried.” Buckley was also instrumental in designing the technology systems at Freedom and Heritage high schools. “Those two schools are models of technology use,” said Smith. “And the network system we have in the district is one of the best-functioning networks around. And that’s due to Dennis’ great work and continual monitoring and guidance. There are many, many weekends where Dennis has given of his own time working in here and making sure the network is up and running. “We certainly owe him a great debt of gratitude and thanks for the many, many years of service to the students, the staff and the entire district. Dennis is the type of person you never really replace. His personal skills and dedication to see Wizard page 18A
State to raid school coffers Local educators are bracing for tidings of no comfort or joy from Sacramento.
In addition to raising opponents off the mat, jiu-jitsu mavens recently raised money to fight pancreatic cancer.
INSIDE Calendar ..........................19B Classifieds ........................14B Education ..........................8A Entertainment ................10B Health & Beauty ............... 8B Milestones ......................... 7B Opinion ...........................15A Sports ................................. 1B
FOR MOVIE TIMES SEE PAGE 5A
DECEMBER 26, 2008
Antioch forms new bond with Army by Rick Lemyre Staff Writer The first things a visitor sees when passing by the Mare Island Naval Shipyard are piles of rusting steel, empty and neglected warehouses and weed-choked parking lots. About an hour from the East County on the other side of the bay, the facility was established in 1854, and appears to be an aging repository of things long past usefulness. But appearances can be deceiving. Earlier this month, a three-year effort culminated in the forging of something powerful and new – an alliance between Antioch and the Army’s 483rd Transportation Battalion. The occasion was the city’s official adoption of the 483rd at a ceremony that also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Army Reserve. “Antioch is a community that is very appreciative of the veterans,” said Mayor Jim Davis at the ceremony that took place Dec. 14. “This is a way to show them our respect.” The 483rd was formed as an all-African-American unit in 1942, supplying lumber and petroleum products to forces in the Aleutian Islands. In 1944, the 483rd delivered supplies across the Normandy beachhead in the weeks following the Allied invasion of Europe in World War II. The unit also handled supplies in Kuwait for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. Lt. Col. Scott Gemeling, commander of
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Photo by Rick Lemyre
Lt. Col. Scott Gemeling, right, commander of the Army’s 483rd Transportation Battalion, honors Antioch veteran Terry Andreason for his service, including being the driving force behind Antioch’s adoption of the 483rd.
Photo by Rick Lemyre
Lt. Col. Scott Gemeling, left, and Antioch Mayor Jim Davis hold a city ﬂag presented to the 483rd Transportation Battalion as part of a Dec. 14 ceremony in which the city adopted the 483rd. the 483rd, noted that the unit’s water transport mission is a natural fit for Antioch, the riverside city also known as the Gateway to the Delta. After an exchange of flags, Gemeling pinned a unit crest on Davis’ lapel and presented a plaque bearing the history of the 483rd. The adoption effort was spearheaded by
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Antioch resident and veteran Terry Andreason, who was rewarded for his efforts by Gemeling as part of the ceremony. A member of the Patriot Sentinel Riders organization, Andreason said the mission to show community support for the armed forces is an important one, and one he hopes will spread to other communities.
United States Army Reserve Ambassador Dan Furtado agreed. The adoption process “is not as onerous as it appears,” he said. “If one community gets involved, neighbors might be inspired to get on board as well. Today’s Army involves multiple deployments, and we need to make sure we support the troops and their families at home.” The ceremony was followed by an excursion aboard on the 483rd’s ships, out under the Golden Gate Bridge and back. The Antioch banner will now fly on the 483rd’s ships, Davis said, and the city will support the 483rd when it is sent abroad and will feature the battalion in various community events.
DECEMBER 26, 2008
Tenacious teamwork Art students at Heritage High and Adams Middle schools joined forces this year to create a collaborative mural of art and inspiration. The project began in September and the finishing touches were completed this week. The owners of Willyâ€™s Bagels and Blends on Country Club Drive in Brentwood provided a wall in their shop and the supplies for the joint venture. The fusion of the schoolsâ€™ mascots (the yellowjacket wearing the Patriot costume) is the focal point of the mural, highlighting the teamwork that made the project happen. At right, top, Heritage Principal Andy Parsons shows off the new mural. At right bottom, the contributors from Heritage and Adams pose in front of the artwork. Photos courtesy of Adams Middle School
DECEMBER 26, 2008
Council members sought Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho is seeking applicants for the Knightsen Town Advisory Council (KTAC) and the Byron Municipal Advisory Council (Byron MAC). The function of the councils is to advise the county Board of Supervisors on land issues and planning matters affecting the communities. The councils represents their community before the Board of Supervisors, the East County Regional Planning Commission, and the Zoning Administrator on issues such as land use, planning and zoning. The councils also represent their constituents before the Local Agency Formation Commission on
Generosity exceeded need – at least brieﬂy – at the year’s Adopt-A-Family event held by the Delta Community Services, Inc. Originally slated to provide holiday food and toys for 34 families, the donations from all four of the Summerset communities (which also provided volunteers) poured in, forcing the program’s expansion. “They overwhelmed us,” said Linda Stadlbauer of the Brentwood Parks and Recreation Department, which hosted the event at the city’s Community Center. “We had so many things, we had to call extra families to come and get them.” Organized by Felicitas Ochoa D.C.S.I., the program primarily beneﬁted local farm workers. “It was a fantastic turnout,” said Stadlbauer. “There was great generosity from the Summerset group, and many grateful families who were helped by both gifts and groceries.” Above are a few of the stalwart volunteers who stayed extra hours to distribute the Summerset communities’ largess.
James M. Hotchkiss, Jr. has published a great history of the Hotchkiss family entitled “A Pair of Kings and a Joker.” The book should be of interest to all who live on the land called Hotchkiss Tract, which is also known as Reclamation District 799. The area includes those living on Dutch Slough Road and Sandmound Boulevard, and surrounding areas. James M. Hotchkiss, Jr. is the grandson of W.J. Hotchkiss, the man the tract was named for. The 224-page “A Pair of Kings and a Joker” contains many pictures of Hotchkiss family members and tells an intimate tale of the growth of the family and its heritage. As Hotchkiss, Jr. writes, “Laugh out
loud at the incredible neurotic behavior of W.J.’s nincompoop son, Marius. Then rejoice as all the family’s greatness recurs in Marius’ son, Miller.” The book tells of the triumphs of W.J. Hotchkiss in his business empire of farming, canning and lumber. The book’s readers will become believers that the Golden Gate Bridge might never have been built without the efforts of W.J. Hotchkiss, the founder and leader of the Bridging the Golden Gate Association. To order the book, go to the Web site www.lulu.com and click on the title of the book. In the near future, the book will also be available at Amazon.com. —Contributed by historian Robert Gromm
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proposed boundary changes affecting their community. KTAC meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the Knightsen Garden Club building; the Byron MAC meets monthly at 7 p.m. at the Byron Library. Applicants must be residents of Byron to serve on the Byron MAC, and must live in Knightsen to serve on KTAC. Interested persons should visit the county’s Web site, www.co.contra-costa.ca.us/maddybook/, for application procedures, or call 925335-1900 for an application. Applications must be returned by 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 2, 2009.
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DECEMBER 26, 2008
Pioneer ponies up 4.5% MORTGAGES?
ioneer Elementary School’s Student Council exempliﬁed the spirit of the holiday season when it decided to donate $150 dollars to the local Brentwood Community Chest charity organization. Every year the Brentwood Community Chest organization serves to assist the community’s families in need. After hearing about the need from their teacher, Student Council members Sarah, Jessop and Clarissa Grubbs immediately decided to make the donation. They recognized that with the economy in a sorry state, many people in the community might not be able to give as much as in the past, and that the Student Council could step in and help families enjoy the holiday season. The teachers and staff of Pioneer Elementary take pride in their students’ act of kindness and generosity – the very essence of the school’s purpose. Pioneer Elementary wishes everyone a Happy New Year!
Last week the financial news was all abuzz over news that the Treasury Department was going to take steps to try to lower mortgage rates to 4.5%. It’s one more tool they would implement to fix our real estate market. If more people can qualify to buy homes, or refinance to lower their payment, or keep their adjustable-rate loan payments from skyrocketing, that’s all good. I don’t have space to describe how they were going to do this, but what I can tell you is that they really don’t have control over mortgage rates. They can do some things that in theory would cause rates to drop, but there is no guarantee of 4.5% mortgages in our future. But what’s interesting is that just the news reports about this plan seem to have had the effect of dropping mortgage rates across the board just based on expectations. I’ve had some clients who have been quoted 4.8% for
a 30 year fixed-rate mortgage recently! But what’s interesting is that last week Treasury Secretary Paulson was asked on a news show about this plan for 4.5% mortgages, and his answer was dissembling, at best. He said that plan wasn’t really firmed up yet, and had been leaked to the press prematurely. He wants to get the blessing of the new Obama administration once they are in power before they move forward on such a costly plan. The bottom line is that rates are fantastic now. They could go lower, or they could go higher. But there is no guarantee we are going to see 4.5% anytime soon. 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
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DECEMBER 26, 2008
An early visit
Photo courtesy of Laurel Elementary School
egan Bentley, 6, snagged a little one-on-one time with the Jolly Old Elf himself during Laurel Elementary School’s Pizza with Santa party. No telling for sure what the ﬁrst-grader asked for, but judging from her smile, it seems to have gone pretty well.
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DECEMBER 26, 2008
School funds to take a hit by Ruth Roberts Staff Writer
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East County educators got a Grinchy surprise last week with the news of a proposed plan to slash $10 billion from local schools’ bare-bones coffers in order to rescue the state of California’s budget. The cuts, currently unidentified, are part of an overall package brought by state and assembly Republicans as a way to plug a leaking $40 billion dollar state deficit – the same budget passed by the legislature two months ago, and 85 days past its original deadline. What this means for schools throughout the state is not completely clear, but here in East County, school administrators are preparing for the worst. If the proposed plan is passed in Sacramento, the Oakley district could lose as much as $6 million of its roughly $24 million annual operating budget. “Merry Christmas,” said Oakley Union Elementary School District (OUESD) Superintendent Rick Rogers. In expectation of the losses, Rogers said the district has been preparing its staff for the inevitable by reducing spending, forgoing unnecessary expenditures and freezing salary increases. The district has already begun to save money through this year’s leasing of Almond Grove Elementary – the newest school in the district – to Trinity Christian School. The agreement will save OUESD approximately $300,000 per year. “I think everyone (school staff) is on board, and they understand that there is not a whole lot we can do until we know what the cuts will be,” said Rogers. “And it’s not a matter of if, but when. What I do know is that it’s a given that there won’t be a department or school program that will remain untouched by this, and that’s tragic.” Liberty Union High School District (LUHSD) Superintendent Dan Smith agreed. Since state construction dollars for
school improvements have been recently slashed, the focus has turned to the inevitable cuts to the LUHSD’s annual $58 million operating budget. “Certainly nothing is definite at this point, but since we heard (about the proposed cuts), there has been a non-essential hiring freeze,” said Smith. “In order to keep our classrooms going, we’re asking all staff to look at what they’re doing and see where they can cut costs. Things like turning off the computers at night, limiting the amount of copies they make and turning out lights make a difference. It all adds up.” But what doesn’t add up Smith says, is the state’s inability to balance the budget. “It is frustrating,” said Smith. “These are hard times and this is uncharted territory. But we (the LUHSD Board) are holding a study session on Jan. 14, and we’re hoping that by then we’ll have something solid to go on.” Melanie Jones, principal at Diablo Vista Elementary School in Antioch, says she has been working with her staff to cut back where possible, but admits the times are challenging. “The pressure here in California (regarding finances) is tough, and especially so for the schools,” said Jones. “Here (at Diablo Vista) we’re already doing without a vice principal, and just in terms of coverage – administratively and physically –it’s been difficult. We’ll just have to wait and see what the cuts are and go from there.” Educational budget woes are nothing new in California, a state that since the passage of Proposition 13 in the 1970s has seen a steady decline in funding for schools. According to recent studies released by the California Department of Education, California continues to lag behind the rest of the country in per pupil spending, teacher-to-student ratios and academic performance. “It’s taken 30 years to get there, but it finally did,” said Rogers of the state’s low rankings. “I just feel bad for the kids … the whole thing is just obscene.”
DECEMBER 26, 2008
Campus welcomes Watch DOGS by Ruth Roberts Staff Writer Rick Hilton is top dog at Diablo Vista Elementary School and he’s not just bragging. Hilton, along with dozens of others dads on the Antioch campus, are members of the Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) program; a nationwide organization that has upgraded the roles of dads in the classroom and unleashed it on a grateful parent community. “What we basically are is another set of eyes on campus,” said Hilton, parent coordinator of the program. “But what’s different about this is that we don’t just volunteer in our child’s classroom. We go wherever we are needed – directing traffic; on the playground; even doing the heavy lifting.” A kind of honey-do list for the school set. “Moms have been in classrooms for years, of course, but for a lot of dads, it can be intimidating to come to school, because we don’t really know what to do,” said Dave Chuey, another DOGS dad. “So what’s great about DOGS is everything’s written out and dads know where they are going and what they are going to do. It’s structured, and that’s something we, as dads, need.” Scholastic expertise, insists Hilton, is not a criterion, but enthusiasm definitely is. “If you can shoot hoops here, then you’re Michael Jordan, no matter how good you are,” he said. “It’s all about being involved with the kids, and just by showing up, you’re showing you care.” Watch DOGS was founded in 1998 by a parent reacting to the school shooting in Jonesboro, Ark. The original concept behind the program was to prevent school violence by providing additional on-site support. But since then, the organization has evolved into much more, and Diablo Vista Principal Melanie Jones is thrilled. “There are, of course, no negatives to this (program),” said Jones. “The teachers have been telling me how great it’s been to have the help in the classrooms and throughout the campus. It’s been a real blessing.” And the benefit to the students as well, is obvious. Matthew Hilton, Rick’s son, said that having his dad on campus has been an all around great experience. “It’s been cool having my dad here,” said Matthew, 10. “I like it because I get to spend more time with him and he gets to be more involved in my class.” Diablo Vista is the first school in the East Bay to participate in the DOGS program, said Hilton. But the reaction has been so overwhelming, he is hopeful the group will spread to other schools in the Antioch Unified School District and eventually throughout East County. “When we first put this together, we were hoping for a half dozen dads coming maybe once a week to help out,” said Hilton. “At our first meeting, we had 30 initial volunteers show up, and I’d say there
Photo by Ruth Roberts
Rick Hilton, above, shares a moment with his son Matthew during his day at Diablo Vista Elementary. Hilton is the parent coordinator for the Watch DOGS program, a volunteer group that promotes dads’ participation on campus. are another 50 or so that are contacting us, asking how to get involved. Our goal was to have someone here every day of the week for the rest of the school year, and I’m sure we’ll fulfill our commitment.” With such successful numbers and continued involvement, what is the message the Watch DOGS bring to both students and dads? “Well, I think what it’s telling us is that dads want to be involved
in their children’s lives and that they want to take an active role,” said Chuey. “It’s saying to the kids that we care and that it’s our turn. This is something we should have been doing all along, but now we have the opportunity. It’s great for everyone.” For more information on the Watch DOGS program, call Diablo Vista at 925706-5288.
DECEMBER 26, 2008
When Doctors Get Back Pain & Sciatica, This Is What They Do… Finally, A Breakthrough In The Treatment Of Back & Neck Pain And Sciatica Caused By Bulging, Herniated Or Squashed Discs We believe the greatest back pain breakthrough of our century that this doctor has seen is NOT surgery, but a little-known, state-of-the-art technology that’s safe, painless and has recently become available in Brentwood. Brentwood – When a local doctor came to consult with me about low back pain and sciatica down his leg, he told me he’s seen too many patients who’ve had surgery and he wanted to avoid it at all cost. He had seen 3 or 4 patients that I had treated and the“amazing results they had received” and he was asking me if I could help him. You see, after I treat a patient, I always send a medical report of ﬁndings to their doctors, keeping them informed of the patient’s progress. I also encourage the patient to report back to their physician for a visit and to showoff their newfound health to their doctor. This doctor had several patients come back to him from our ofﬁce after treatment to do just that and he came to me with his own condition. I’ve successfully treated Dentists, Nurses, Chiropractors, Therapists, just to name a few. I’ve treated even more of their staff. I haven’t treated a spine surgeon yet…pride is a funny thing, but I’d be honored at the opportunity. Doctor or not, every person entering our ofﬁce undergoes a thorough history, extensive examination, and review of spinal ﬁlms. We then determine the cause of their pain, whether they are a good candidate for nonsurgical spinal decompression and then I consider the severity of the case and decide on acceptance of their case.
Do You Have A Disc Problem? If you experience any of the following in your back or neck, chances are your pain is due to a disc bulge, herniation or degeneration: • A vice squeezing your back • Sitting causes back or leg pain • Stabbing pain at the belt line or in your neck • Can’t turning over in bed without hurting • Numbness in your toes or ﬁngers • Fire down your legs • Searing pain radiates into your arm • Prickling in your thigh
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you do try some of these. Exercising makes you hurt more, pain medications and muscle relaxers cover up the problem and give you side effects. Pain shots can cause more pain, don’t work or don’t last very long nor FIX the problem, back surgery didn’t work or made you worse. Or maybe you were one of the lucky ones that back surgery actually helped, but now the problem is back with a vengeance. Warning: Decompression is NOT like old fashioned traction or hanging upside down which can send you into severe spasms and squeeze the discs even harder! Whatever your situation, you owe it to yourself to check into a Breakthrough Computerized NonSurgical Treatment for back pain and sciatic or leg pain caused by a bulging, herniated or squashed disc or discs. It has helped hundreds of people who were suffering just like you. This new treatment machine I’m calling my squashed disc machine.
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new lease on life.”
I GUARANTEE your satisfaction. Yes, a real old-fashioned satisfaction guarantee…but there’s one small catch…for your beneﬁt. You see, there’s a very small percentage of folks we can’t help. Here’s what a couple applicants said after I told them both I couldn’t help them:
“I had serious back pain. I was taking several pain medications when I started the program. After the 5th treatment, I woke up feeling thirty five again! It was amazing. I am now off all pain drugs and am totally pain free.
“I was treated very nicely. The doctors have listened to me and they didn’t rush me out of the office, despite the fact I wasn’t a candidate. The exam I had was super, the best I’ve had anywhere. The doctor explained things to me that no one else ever has.”
“I had severe leg pain and numbness in both feet and could not walk without a cane and the leg pain would not change no matter how I layed down to sleep. I’ve had this problem for 40 years. Dr. Martin has made a believer out of me. My wife and my dog Bongo says thank you! I can now walk him again.
Herb Olsen – Retired
Non-Candidate Brentwood, Ca
“I thought I’d write a note to you and all of those potential patients who have serious doubts (as I had) about your decompression treatments. Actually, I thought your procedure was more of a psychological placebo designed for everyone, instead of a nonsurgical process that could repair injured vertebral discs. Imagine my surprise when you advised me that my condition was too severe for your procedure to correct. To me, that refusal added world’s of credibility to your program. It showed me that you are only there to help patients; not just to take their money. I assure you that I will recommend you to anyone I know or meet that suffers from spine and/ or disc pain. I can do this knowing full well that they will be treated right. Non-Candidate Antioch, Ca And that’s why I’m offering a limited time… ----------------->
Dr. James Martin D.C.
How Do Discs Go Bad? Over time the discs in your back tend to get squashed or compressed, especially if you’ve played certain sports when younger or have a job that requires lots of sitting or standing in one place for long periods of time. Car accidents, lifting things, very physical jobs just to name a few. It’s kinda like a cookie with cream ﬁlling, and the cream ﬁlling will start to ooze out from between the sides of the cookie if pressure is applied on top of the cookie (like gravity on our spines). Eventually this happens to a lot of us. Statistics are something like over 80% of Americans will suffer with back pain sometime in their life. Back to my new computerized squashed disc machine.You’re probably wondering how this new machine works.
How Does This Machine Work? Haven’t you ever had the thought…”Gosh, if somebody could just pull me apart...I would feel a whole lot better”. Yeah, I know you have. And it kinda makes a bit of sense. Well someone else, actually a medical manufacturer, back pain specialists, neurosurgeons and engineers have come up with just that. A machine that gently pulls you apart, stretches the disc to a certain point that causes a drop in pressure inside the disc (like a little vacuum in the middle the cream ﬁlling) causing the cream ﬁlling to suck back in! In my clinic, I’ve successfully treated hundreds of patients with spinal decompression so there’s no reason your back problem should be any different. In fact, I’m so conﬁdent we can help you, I’m
Most Serious Back Pain Sufferers Are Very Skeptical Of This New Procedure, As Skeptical As I Was When I Purchased My First Decompression Machine, So IfYou Are Skeptical…See What Some Of Our Patients Who WERE Good Candidates Have Had To Say About Our Program:
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John Marek – Pet Care
“I heard about spinal decompression on the radio. I had back pain for 3 or 4 years and tried different back therapies and back surgery. Spinal decompression has helped me even after back surgery and I sleep better at night. If someone has back problems, they should try spinal decompression.” Rick Wright – Farmer
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DECEMBER 26, 2008
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Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. Santa Claus
EDITORIALS, LETTERS & COMMENTARY
ard Winning New l Aw s
For the sake of the children, take action I write this is honor of Raijon Daniels, Jazzmin Davis and her twin brother (who is said to be the living version of Jazzmin), and Kyle R. Moreover, I write this for the sake of the children whose stories have not yet been told, for the sake of children in the system, and for UEST the sake of chilCOMMENT dren who, at this very moment, are being abused and even tortured behind closed curtains we pass … every day. Understanding how anyone could torture a child is incomprehensible, but the fact that a total of four adults have now been charged with torturing Kyle R. is a horror that is truly unbelievable. How do four similarly sick-minded individuals manage to find each other to carry out such evil against a child? No one wants to believe that perversion and cruelty surround us. Kyle’s story, unfortunately, sheds a stark light on the truth that evil does, in fact, exist. And it lives near you. Evil can be found anywhere power reigns. I believe the dictum “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Likewise, history has proven
that “all it takes for evil to exist is for good people to do nothing.” So, here I am, doing what I can, doing something, anything, to try to counter the atrocities against children – atrocities that are becoming all-too familiar. One cannot help but conclude that social workers failed all of these kids. The system failed them miserably and tragically. And with budgetary problems causing social service layoffs, the system won’t get any better. For this reason, it is more important than ever that those-who-can do all they can. We need to do better and we need to do more. And when I say “we,” I mean (first and foremost) social workers, teachers, school administrators, medical professionals, police officers, church workers, neighbors, philanthropists and legislators. I mean all of us. The fact that these kids were all in the system is only one similarity. The other common thread that runs through the tattered lives of these tortured kids is this: they all disappeared from public school. It seems to me that the school system and child welfare workers (just as their job titles indicate) represent the front line of child welfare. So how is it
LETTERS Help protect your property value Editor: This letter is intended for the residents of Discovery Bay Property Owners Association (DBPOA). I joined the DBPOA board this year along with four other new members. We are fully aware that there are major concerns about decisions past boards made and that there are those who question whether the DBPOA is a valid association. The goal of the new board has been to try to move forward and begin to work with the association members in a professional and respectful way.
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that children in the system are allowed to disappear from school without their welfare being red-flagged and called into serious question? Allowing children to disappear from school enables their abusers to inflict evils of the worst kind acted out in absolute isolation. As such, truancy (or lack of school registration) of a child in the system should sound a fierce alarm. From what I can tell, though, there is neither mandate nor ready means by which a school reports such absences to authorities. Here’s a thought: let us not continue to allow the life of a child to depend on the diligence and ability (or lack thereof) of one social worker. In this hi-tech age, we should have a means by which the various entities charged with ensuring the welfare of our children enter critical information into a database that would then “red-flag” cases of concern. What I am suggesting is a national database that tracks critical data concerning those most vulnerable among us: children. Creating such would require expertise and money. (Any Silicon Valley philanthropists reading this?) Obtaining
The current board reached out to a group of vocal, concerned homeowners who have made some inappropriate accusations, and asked to meet with them to discuss our plans as a new board and listen to their concerns. The intent was to try to begin a process of working together to foster open communications to benefit the association members. This group flatly refused to meet with us! The request for an increase in homeowner dues is largely because of expenses due to lawsuits, requests for documentation, court costs, insurance and man hours, etc., over the years, all required by law for the board to address. This has left us with a deficit in trying to manage the association at the bare minimum. Also, with the increase in foreclosures, our income of available funds has dropped over 25 percent. The DBPOA dues of $25 per year have not increased for a number of years because of the bylaws. Therefore, we are requesting a bylaw change to give more flexibility in today’s environment. The intent of having a property owners association is to maintain a level of standards that protect the value of the homes within the association. Plain and simple, without a functioning association, there would be no recourse if a neighbor decides to paint his home purple or landscape with garish items. The items covered by the CC&Rs are not
the necessary level of cooperation, among the various entities that comprise the system we currently bemoan, would most certainly require a legal mandate. (Any elected officials reading this?) Making such a database reality won’t be easy, but it’s important. When human (and financial) resources are scarce, working harder is good, but working smarter is crucial. For the sake of our children, please, anyone and everyone charged with responsibility for children, anyone knowledgeable of the system, who understands the complexities in the way outsiders cannot, and anyone who has the knowledge – and the power – to make a difference, I implore you: be diligent and passionate, and do your part to remedy this broken system! Do this so that the deaths of Jazzmin and Raijon – and the nightmares that Jazzmin’s twin brother and Kyle R. have endured – will not be in vain. Do this so that we don’t have to read of more heartwrenching, unnecessary horrors such as these … ever again. Denise Niber-Montoya Discovery Bay
subject to county or state enforcement. With severely limited funds, the process to address these concerns would be seriously impacted. We live in a beautiful and unique community and I am sure most residents, especially in today’s environment, want to protect their home value. Finally, our books are open to all homeowners in the association. I sincerely hope that before you vote, you take the time to find out the facts and get involved to make this association work to the benefit of all concerned. Jack Parker Discovery Bay
Dynamic duo leads school Editor: In this time of giving thanks, we think it is important to give thanks for the school-site leadership at Excelsior Middle School and all of the recent positive changes fostering student success this year. The teachers have not significantly changed in the last five years, but there has been a huge paradigm shift with the leadership of Ben Scinto and Karla Allen this year. There is an impressive collaborative team focus across departments and grade levels and recognition of the students and staff as they work together to be their best.
Mr. Scinto and Ms. Allen strive to make Excelsior a School-to-Watch program. Under their leadership, teachers, students and parents have adopted a school-wide emphasis on individual student strengths, teacher accountability and student responsibility. “Failure is not an option” is embraced by administrators, teachers, students and parents. Examples of this philosophy include the Effective Relief Program, Renaissance Program and TEAM Advisory class new to Excelsior under the leadership of Mr. Scinto and Ms. Allen. These programs have promoted an aura of excitement among the students as they challenge themselves to excel academically and be recognized publicly among their peers for their efforts. The TEAM class encourages students to explore values and study skills, develop long- and short-term goals and identify their own strengths and weaknesses. Students work with a consistent staff mentor throughout their career at Excelsior, which allows every student the opportunity to connect with a teacher who is committed to meeting the developmental needs of early adolescents. Attendance at the student-led conferences (part of the TEAM model) soared to an astounding 95 percent, with students and parents reporting that see Letters page 16A
DECEMBER 26, 2008
Letters from page 15A they enjoyed sharing a selected piece of work from each class. Students reported they felt their parents listened when they talked. Furthermore, Mr. Scinto and Ms. Allen have implemented the use of data-based outcome measures to track academic performance throughout the year, allowing teachers to provide immediate, individualized remediation or enrichment. When faced with the everyday challenges, Mr. Scinto and Ms. Allen constructively solve problematic issues by focusing on the academic, social and developmental needs of students, their parents and the staff. Mr. Scinto and Ms. Allen have an open-door policy for students, parents and the staff and a can-do attitude, helping whenever and wherever possible. Students acknowledge the positive changes on campus as well. One student states, “I really like Monday Huddle because I get to know the teachers and I like the student recognition.” Another states, “Huddle is ‘fabtastic.’ Teachers are telling us life lessons through stories and I think they are getting across because we can relate.” Finally, another states, “Mr. Scinto is a very nice and caring person and he understands me.” Parents agree as well. One parent stated, “As a parent of an eighth-grade student, this year has been awesome! The ER program has been great and it has helped her (my daughter) with
homework and to bring those grades up that she’s having problems with in class.” We are proud and excited to be a part of Team Scinto and Allen! Their creative, compassionate and committed leadership, as well as their intellectual guidance will surely be the keys to the successful academic future of Excelsior Middle School and its path to a California Schools-to-Watch recipient. Brian Beggs, Brenda Burnight, Michele Carr, Sherri Cline, Matt Colbert, Kevin Coren, Janelle Craig, Kecia Fiori, Ben Foley, Candice Hansen, Erica Hornnes, Becky Hund, Kim Karr, Tony Martins, Stacie Maslen, Cindy Musser, Lara Robinson, Whitney Skinner, Danielle Storey, Kathy Tickner, Jeanne Turner, Heather Wenzler, Lois Wetter-Tilbury and Francisco Zelaya Excelsior Middle School faculty
Take a hard look Editor: To whom it may be behind the email@example.com letter that I received in the mail. I am a homeowner in Discovery Bay (second home). When we bought our house, I was quite surprised at how low the association dues were. My realtor agreed and even admitted that the service from the association(s) suffers because of this. I have owned other second homes, most with associations and I have never before seen a “cap” like the DBPOA has on raising fees. All of the other associa-
tions I have been involved with charge more, but more importantly, provide better service in return. I have read the materials on this issue and strongly disagree with your position. There is no way a proper association can be run on the existing budget. The DBPOA doesn’t even have enough money to keep a status quo, let alone to help make our community better. Your comments on the payment of consultants and part-time employees seems to be taken quite out of context. Clearly contract consultants are going to be more expensive on an hourly basis. But if the DBPOA had better funding, it could hire the proper full time staff required and we would not be forced to pay high contract consultant wages. Take a hard look at this situation: the cap on fees is decades old and the cost of living has risen dramatically since then. So if you’re an actual homeowner in Discovery Bay, and you are hoping to make this community a better place to live, you’ll support the change in the charter an allow the association to charge “market” association fees. Then we can work together to make sure the association does its job, properly, within budget and that it sets up a solid, longterm plan to make our community one of the best places to live in and visit. With a Yes vote, we’ll all have a better community to live in. Michael F. Moran DBPOA member
Response to ‘the rest’ Editor: This is in response to “The Rest of the Story” in your recent newspaper ad to vote yes on bylaw changes. Managing the association on $41,000 yearly dues is indeed a challenge for a board that overpays a parttime contract secretary, inspector and consultant (over $56,000) to administer outdated CC&Rs over 20 years old. You instead concentrate on updating the standards (your interpretations of the CC&Rs), so is it any wonder rules consistently change? Therefore, there is no shortage of violations or fines. So why aren’t the CC&Rs updated? You say you can’t agree on how to update them, and it would require a membership vote – a sizeable added expense. So the sizeable added expense is instead for a vote to increase dues, and the CC&Rs will remain the same, outdated and inconsistent with county ordinances. It’s also a vote to allow future inflationary increases at your discretion; no membership vote. Who’s been getting the free ride? No Superior Court decision against you? The Hall vs. DBPOA is probably the most significant Superior Court case. The DBPOA was removed from the chains of title for an entire tract. Why are Small Claims Court losses even being brought up by you? Agreed, they see Letters page 17A
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DECEMBER 26, 2008
Caring from page 1A weekend’s event drew near, checks, toys and food began arriving in quantity, and more volunteers than ever turned out to collect, sort and pack the toys to be given away. There were even enough donations to allow three truckloads of toys and several more of food to be shipped over to Oakley to bolster the nascent effort there. I still had the dream, though. Every year, on the Thursday night before the massive food sorting and packing effort begins, I sleep not with sugar plums dancing in my head, but a vision of the multipurpose room at Brentwood Elementary (the use of which, along with pallet jacks, kitchen facilities and plenty of manpower, help make the program possible) stacked with several tons of food, and nobody there to sort it but me. Again, I needn’t have worried so much. Come Friday, more than 300 volunteers of every age turned out to lend a hand. There were so many people that it became a challenge just moving about the room putting soup in the soup stack and succotash in the vegetable stack. People then stuck around, waiting patiently for their turn get an empty box, fill it with food and return for another. The huge task was completed an hour faster than in previous years. Volunteers were turning out in Oakley, too. Earlier in the week, the Friends managed to gather some two dozen helpers to wrap every one of the toys that would be distributed to 365 children. Uniform stacks of numbered boxes, neatly covering most of floor in the council chambers at City Hall, held more than a ton of food and stood ready and waiting for distribution. There’s always a certain amount of chaos expected when giveaway day ar-
Wizard from page 1A the district are exceptional. Dennis, we thank you so much for everything you’ve done for the district.” After receiving a standing ovation from the board members and audience at the meeting, Buckley said, “Liberty has been like my family for 38½ years. It’s been fun. I’ve seen a lot of changes. I remember when the board room was maybe a third this size, Liberty was about
rives. Most of it usually involves traffic, as hundreds of cars converge to pick up baskets. They turn into the wrong driveways and park in the wrong places, and I expected the same again this year. I needn’t have worried so much. The Brentwood Police Department and its
Explorers this year did a masterful job of directing things, adding to the use of warehouse space for temporary storage and the use of two cardboard debris bins to the invaluable support provided by the city. Traffic wasn’t a big deal around
Oakley’s City Hall, either, primarily because of the strong backs of some of the volunteers. About a half dozen hardy individuals with hand trucks and wagons carted every box to people’s cars, loaded them up and went back for more. In the end, more than 650 families got some much-needed support in far East County. In addition, the Toys for Tots program got several bags of extra toys, a dozen food baskets and turkeys were delivered to Shepherd’s Gate women’s center, and several hundred pounds of food were trucked over to the Harvest Time church. In Oakley, the Friends succeeded in inaugurating what will surely be as beloved a community event as has been happening in Brentwood for many years. They’re to be congratulated for their courage and determination to do it in a year that’s been hard on everyone, which makes it all the more important. And in Brentwood, I’m proud to say we all agree: 2008 was perhaps our smoothest year to date. It’s a fine swan song for outgoing president Bill Hill, and the semi-retirement of Mike Currier, a mainstay of the program since its inception. Their shoes will be hard to fill, but with the help of several new key players (some of whom know they’ll be key, some of whom don’t – yet), we’ll be fine. Thanks to everyone who donated, collected, sorted, packed, delivered, checked lists, cooked breakfast, broke down boxes, swept floors or otherwise supported the two efforts. To see hundreds of people help the programs grow and get better, even as the economy shrinks and gets worse, is heartwarming in the extreme. I’m confident that the program will be as robust as ever next year, and that I won’t need to worry so much.
1,000 kids, Roy Ghiggeri ran the adult ed program out of a trailer that was parked on the lawn behind the counseling office, and the band and the choir and the drama people did their thing in the cafeteria. “So things have changed. We’ve gotten bigger. Big is not always the best. There’s some things about the small Liberty that we’ll never recapture – the sense of family that you can have only in a small school. I miss those days. But you can’t do
anything about growth. You just have to do the best you can. I think this district has. Thank you for letting me be a part of it.” As Board President Joanne Byer presented Buckley with gifts of a liberty bell and an engraved silver mouse, she recalled how Buckley helped get the bell system running again after a fire at Liberty High. Buckley noted that the folks at La Paloma weren’t too happy that he had to take
their system and install it at Liberty. In reference to all of the times Buckley has been called upon to fix one technological problem or another, Freedom Principal Eric Volta jokingly asked Buckley, “Are you keeping the same cell number?” After Buckley said yes, Volta said, “That’s all I need to know.” David Andrews was hired earlier in the meeting to serve as the district’s new network administrator.
Photo by Rick Lemyre
Brentwood resident Christie Council will give this bike to her son Raymond, 10, for Christmas thanks to the donation from Precision Cabinets & Trim. The business donated 11 bikes to the Brentwood Regional Community Chest this year.
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DECEMBER 26, 2008
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December 26, 2008
Freedom rebounds from forfeits by Dave Roberts Staff Writer A paperwork snafu has led to Freedom High School’s boys basketball team forfeiting its first eight games this season, including last week’s championship victory in the Stonebarger Tournament. After Monday night’s exciting come-from-behind victory over Encinal High, Freedom Coach Drew Torres said his team still considers itself to be 7-3, based on the outcome of its first 10 games. Officially, though, the Falcons are 2-8, due to the ineligibility of one of their star players in the first eight games, Nick Blount, who won the Stonebarger MVP trophy. The 6-foot-2-inch junior guard and forward transferred to Freedom this year, but the school’s athletic department failed to file the necessary paperwork with the league for the transfer. That paperwork has now been filed and Blount has been reinstated, although he missed Monday night’s home game due to a knee in-
jury in practice. For the first half of the game, it looked like the Falcons could have used Blount’s deadly shooting accuracy, especially from three-point range, because it was pretty much all Jets in the first two quarters. Playing a jet-like, run-andgun street game, Encinal was able to score off of numerous fast breaks for easy layups. Meanwhile, Freedom committed turnovers as it worked the ball around the perimeter looking for an open man. The result was a 31-23 lead at the half for Encinal, which was looking like it was engineering a potential blowout. But the game quickly turned around in the third quarter after Torres put some of his better players in the game, whom he had sat out in the first half for disciplinary reasons. The difference was most noticeable on defense, as the Falcons shut down see Freedom page 5B
Freedom High’s Andrew Garner scores two of his 19 points against Encinal High on Monday night. The team looks in ﬁne shape for upcoming league play, despite an initial setback due to an ineligible player.
Carving a quick niche
Open only two weeks, a new fine-dining steakhouse is inspiring diners to join an enthusiastic queue at the door.
Sixty and flourishing A woman reaches a menacing milestone and realizes she’s still that child chasing fireflies – only wiser.
Photo by Dave Roberts
Going martial against cancer
Dallas Ranch hosted the event, but its hospitality stopped short of bestowing the trophy on another team.
East County is a busy place, and there’s no place like our Community Calendar to bring you up to speed on events you won’t want to miss.
Photo by Crosley Gracie
rosley Gracie Jiu-Jitsu raised money for the Pancreatic Cancer Foundation as part of the recent grand opening celebration of its new facility at 3291 Walnut Blvd., Suite 140 in Brentwood. The event featured classes for children and adults, rafﬂed prizes, the promotion of students, a barbecue and a jiu-jitsu seminar for more than 60 students. The owner of the 6,000-square-foot facility looks forward to continue offering Brentwood and surrounding towns a place where entire families can learn martial arts, get in shape and have a lot of fun in the process. New members who sign up in December will receive a discount. For more information, call 925-634-6958 or visit www.crosleygracie.com.
Classified section Looking to buy or sell something? Looking for a job? Look no further than our Home Services, Directory of Professional Services and Classifieds section.
DECEMBER 26, 2008
Angling for memories by Don Davis Correspondent
Photo courtesy of Peter Crutchfield
Dallas Ranch Middle School won the second annual Antioch Uniﬁed School District Intramural Boys Basketball Tournament.
Dallas Ranch takes tourney Dallas Ranch Middle School defeated Black Diamond Middle School 29-27 in the championship game of the second annual Antioch Unified School District Intramural Boys Basketball Tournament on Dec. 13 at Dallas Ranch Middle School. Antioch and Park middle schools also took the court in the tournament.
The hard-fought championship game went down to the finish and displayed both teams’ outstanding sportsmanship and teamwork. Dallas Ranch point guard Kendall Smith drained the go-ahead shot with 35 seconds left in the game, concluding a successful tournament featuring enthusiastic fan support and talented student athletes.
Highly visible and some would even say gaudy, they zoom around in high-performance boats. Usually just two guys focused on a singular pursuit of largemouth bass. They compete in the Angler of the Year point standings and all strive to be the best. Their kids are left home with a video game or a television day while these fathers seek the next tournament trophy. I have been and I am one of these fishermen driven to prove my skill through competition. However, I envy the dad or granddad on the bank or with a family boat, who realizes that fishing with a child is more rewarding. They find pleasure in fishing, talking and admiring nature. Catching is a bonus. At the end of the day, they caught happy, lifelong memories of time spent bonding and learning. Forty years later, those children will treasure the worn and faded photographs with fond memories while reliving the day. Fishing bonds dads and kids and family. I wonder if we tournament guys really get it. Mother Nature replenished the Delta with another abundant spawn. Peer into the water and you’ll see hordes of 2- to 5-inch nervous fry hugging the shoreline. It’s a time of abundance, and the opportunistic bass gorge on the fingerlings with abandon. You have a lot of competition for the attention of a bass, who are roaming and chasing the fry. They set up in ambush, hiding on a point with current. Fingerlings see Angling page 3B
DECEMBER 26, 2008
Angling from page 2B drift by and the feast is on. They chase in weedy flats with fry leaping out of the water in fear. Your challenge is to compete with nature’s abundant servings and watch your child catch a fish. Many techniques will work. For dads and kids, live bait is a good option. Live bait fishing will only be successful if you fish the right areas. For big fish, catch some bluegill with your child and keep them alive. They can be caught near any Delta shoreline and under docks using red worms and a very small weight. The best size is 3 to 5 inches. Get 10 or so and get set for a child’s lasting memory. Acquire a slip bobber and some bobber stops from a local tackle store in advance of this adventure. Slip a bobber stop on the line, then the bobber, then tie on a wide gap hook with no weight. Set your bobber stop at 18 inches. Grab a bluegill and hook it about a half-inch deep behind the dorsal fin. Cast this softly and allow the bluegill to seek cover. For starters, fish them around marina docks or Discovery Bay docks. Keep the bait close to the dock by tending the line. The bluegill will seek the dark shade under the dock until it attracts an opportunistic bass. The bluegill alone will dance and dart the bobber and you will soon get in synch with that rhythm. Allow it to do its dance. Suddenly the cadence changes as a bass circles the bluegill. With polarized glasses you might see the bass closing in for a meal. The bluegill will start extended dives and lunges, pulling the telltale bobber down and
around. It might jump out of the water. Be patient. The bass is positioning for his feast. The bass will take it down slowly and with apparent purpose. Point your rod directly toward the movement and free spool your reel while the bass swims slowly off and pauses. Wait some more! On the second slow move, have your child set the hook by sweeping the rod to the 12 o’clock position with gusto. This technique works equally well for big striped bass in the fall of the year. You can also purchase minnows from a bait shop. These are fished the same way and will probably result in more bites, including a lot of 10- to 14-inch fish. For younger children, many small bites are far better than three or four big bites. With minnows, you will catch a variety of fish: crappie, catfish, red ear sunfish, largemouth bass and striped bass. Minnow fishing mixed with bluegill fishing will produce the most fish, with a big one or two mixed in. Give the children minnow-rigged rods and flip out the bluegill rod yourself. Please have the presence to hand the bluegill rod to your child when a big one bites on it. At the end of the day, you made a memory. Your child will show off the pictures to schoolmates and brag a little about Dad. You might brag a little to your work buddies, too. Grab your camera and do this for four or five hours. Please release these fish. If necessary, cut off the hook rather than kill the fish. You’re making a memory, not a meal.
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a description of an outstanding or special athlete. E-mail your articles and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t guarantee that everything will be published (due to space limitations), but we’ll make every effort we can to get them in.
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