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JULY 27, 2012



July 17, 2012: I saw America today by Kelly Cerruti Hiatt Some days I wonder if the America I grew up with – the America of my grandparents – the America of our founding fathers and pioneers still exists. Today, I know for sure that it does. I saw it in the faces of those that live in small communities in the Northern California foothills where a raging wildfire has been threatening their homes and their livelihoods. These are communities like Foresthill (aptly named, since it’s in the middle of the forest and on a hill), Iowa Hill (by the way, a place where many don’t have electricity – by choice), Pine Mountain and Yankee Jim. These unique communities are only about 20 miles, as the crow flies, from where I live, but their sense of selfreliance is from another time and place. Three hundred people have been forced to evacuate their homes but only three to five people have been staying at the evacuation center set up at Foresthill High School. Why? Because those in these communities have opened their homes to the neighbors they don’t know as well as to the neighbors they do. In nearby towns like Colfax, Weimar, Applegate and Auburn, people are taking in and caring for the dogs, cats, birds, horses and goats that have been displaced by the fire. There are homemade signs up and down Foresthill Road thanking the over 2,000 fire personnel for their hard

Photo courtesy of

Firefighters battle the Robbers Fire in Placer County on July 14. More than 300 people were evacuated ahead of the flames, but only a few needed emergency shelter, thanks to friends and neighbors opening their homes. and 50-percent containment, most of the evacuated residents will get to go home in the next day or so. Life will soon return to normal – but for me, I will never forget the day I saw America. Kelly Cerruti Hiatt is the daughter of Brentwood residents Ben and Jan Cerruti. Kelly and her husband, Joseph, run a catering business in Auburn and helped feed firefighters during the blaze.

work and sacrifice. Yes, America definitely exists in these amazing and unique communities, but America is really not a place. America is a state of mind and a philosophy. It is where individualism and self-determination meet charity and generosity and cross at gratitude and humility. It has been a week since the fire broke out, and with only one home destroyed






less operation that manifests itself every day at the thrift store. With little business knowledge, the former social worker tackles obstacles and embraces opportunities for growth. According to Monaghan, the store is a work in progress. As each day passes, the old store becomes more like a home where miracles materialize. “It’s working,” Monaghan said. “I feel if it is something you’re called to do, the path will be easier for you because you’re committing to where you’re supposed to be.” Monaghan is trying to obtain grants to hire a staff and possibly a counselor for the peer-resource center. During summer, local members of Kiwanis and the Los Medanos College Key Club have volunteered to fill the void. “It’s really great volunteering here,” said 15-year-old Luigi Galvan. “I love the atmosphere, and of course it all goes to a good cause.” Monaghan said she needs volunteers at her store, and people to donate money, goods and host fundraising events. Her job isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. For Monahan, that’s all that matters: “After sending a child or loved one off to war – and they come back – there aren’t that many things that are more important.” East County Veterans Thrift Store is open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 925-2064113. To comment, visit



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CSD from page 1A becomes difficult to complete the projects in a timely fashion. And if you build and pay cash, then the current ratepayers are paying 100 percent of the buildout. However, if you finance it over time, then the ratepayers are paying only for what they are using. Finance rates are at historic lows right now – 30-year financing between 3.7 and 4 percent, where just a year ago they were 5 and 6 percent. The time to do this is now.” The bond, determined by ratepayer revenue, is expected to total between $12 and $14 million. Last year’s

adoption by the CSD board of a sizeable two-year rate increase will help finance the bond and should allow, said Howard, for fewer significant rate increases over the next few years. The two agencies were a natural fit for an PFA, added Howard, because they’re neighboring entities and involve overlapping districts. “There was a nexus there that just made sense,” he said. Although the two agencies formed to create the JPA, they will act independently and be governed by their current boards.

JULY 27, 2012

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Fire Board from page 1A to apply for a fire seat once their responsibilities to their city end. The changes at the ECCFPD come in the wake of the failure of Measure S fire tax last month. The loss forced ECCFPD to slash its service, closing three of its six stations and laying off 15 firefighters. Taylor wants Brentwood residents to know that the planned departure of City Council members from the fire board did not amount to bailing out of a difficult situation. “Your council is not walking away,” he said, adding that the council should take the time needed to assure that well-qualified people are appointed. The council instructed city staff to begin preparing the application

process, with the goal of appointing at least two and a maximum of three board members, depending on the applicant pool. The appointments would be for one year, while a staggered-term process similar to City Council seats is worked out to guide future changes on the fire board. The application deadline for Brentwood will be in mid-November, with the goal of seating the new representatives at the ECCFPD’s January meeting. As only one council meeting is scheduled in November and one in December, however, it could be February before the new Brentwood representatives take their seats at the helm of the ECCFPD. To comment, visit

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iscovery Bay residents Mike and Sylvia Peterson brandished their Hometown Weekly Newspaper in the ultimate metaphor for a bustling environment: Grand Central Station in New York, N.Y. – the city so nice, they named it twice. The Discovery Bay Press thanks Sylvia and Mike for giving a humble, unassuming small-town newspaper a chance to make it big in the Big Apple.

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