YOUR HOMETOWN WEEKLY NEWSPAPER ward Winning News al A pa
Vol. 9, No. 43
Including Surrounding Communities
October 23, 2009
Council approves faux tree tower Good time to get it in gear
by Samie Hartley Staff Writer AT&T is known nationally as a communications provider, but the company recently went before the Oakley City Council to plant a tree. The council last week approved the installation of a 77-foot monopole wireless telecommunication facility, which will be disguised as a pine tree. The faux tree cell tower will go up behind the Golden Chopstick restaurant on Main Street within Oakley Town Center. “The tree will be installed within an existing landscape island where two trees currently exist and will remain at the construction site,” reported Oakley Senior Planner Joshua McMurray. “The tree will have three levels at which antennas may be placed. AT&T antennas will occupy the 70-foot level, with two additional carries to be located at the 50- and 60-foot levels.” The pole will be textured and painted to look like bark, and synthetic branches will be installed to make it look as lifelike as possible. The antennas will be hidden within the branches and painted to match the tree needles to create a uniform design. Councilwoman Pat Anderson questioned why the tower was designed to look like a pine tree since the city is named for its heritage of oak tree groves, but the
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Graphics courtesy of the City of Oakley
AT&T will install a 77-foot cell tower at Oakley Town Center on Main Street, but residents on Gamay Drive will have a clear view of the pine tree-disguised telecommunication facility as seen in this before and after artist’s rendering. AT&T representative told the council that an artificial pine tree provides better camouflage and height for antennae and looks more realistic than an artificial oak. Councilman Bruce Connelley joked that the tower would look like a large Christmas tree and asked the representative if the city could decorate it for the holidays. The representative said it was
possible but discouraged the idea. Since the cell tower will resemble a tree, warning signs will be posted around it to discourage climbing. A 7-foot block wall will also be built around the tree to prevent tampering. After the 4-0 vote (Councilman Kevin
Getting down to business Chamber of Commerce officials are looking for a few good directors.
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see Tower page 26A
State prisoner release worries cops by Dave Roberts Staff Writer
Tens of thousands of criminals will be released early onto the streets of California in the coming years to help relieve prison overcrowding, and local police are concerned it will result in increasing crime. “I know from the Contra Costa Police Chiefs Association, we do have a concern that if the state of California is going to be releasing between 20,000 and 40,000 inmates to the California streets, what’s the plan for re-entry (into society)?” said Antioch Police Chief Jim Hyde. “We haven’t heard a serious plan other than the folks will be assigned to parole officers and all that. “If you release them from state prison and they don’t have any place to go to, then they are homeless. If they are homeless, they are in a desperate state and
Press File Photo
Oakley Police Chief Chris Thorsen, left, seen here at a public safety town meeting two years ago, is one of several local police ofﬁcials concerned about the state’s prisoner release plan. they tend to re-offend and turn back to a life of crime as a way to live.” The prisoner-release program was announced last month in response to a three-judge U.S.
District Court ruling in August that state prisons, which are at nearly double their capacity, have two years to reduce overcrowding to no more than 137.5 percent of the prison space. That
would require a reduction of about 40,000 prisoners. State officials responded with a plan that takes three years to nearly meet that goal through a variety of measures. Those include sending fewer parole violators back to prison, reducing the time that prisoners serve, deporting illegal immigrant prisoners, reducing to a misdemeanor thefts less than $950 and allowing low-risk offenders to serve the last year of their sentence under house arrest. Antioch Mayor Jim Davis, whose city has been struggling to keep a lid on escalating crime in recent years, said he would talk to Chief Hyde to find out how many of the released prisoners might arrive in Antioch. “I don’t know what the impact’s going to be,” said Davis. “It’s very disap-
Utah State fans are glad that one of Freedom’s gridiron greats decided to take his talents to their turf.
see Prisoner page 26A
FOR MOVIE TIMES SEE PAGE 5A
INSIDE Business .............................6A Calendar ..........................27B Classifieds ........................17B Cop Logs ..........................19A Entertainment ................13B Fall Auto Care Guide........ 1B Food .................................14B Health & Beauty ............... 9B Milestones .......................12B Opinion ...........................18A Outdoors ...........................4A Sports ...............................21A Talk About Town ..............5A
OCTOBER 23, 2009
by Ruth Roberts Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Tanner
Brentwood double-organ candidate gets A-listed by Ruth Roberts Staff Writer
Double-transplant candidate Aaron Tanner, 4, has cleared another hurdle in his quest for a new heart and kidney. This week, the Brentwood toddler is expected to be placed on the or-
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Chamber of Commerce seeking new directors
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The Oakley Chamber of Commerce is looking for a few dedicated candidates to fill four directors seats in the upcoming election, but more are certainly welcome. “Chamber bylaws state that there can be no less than three directors on a chamber board and no more than 21,” said Chamber President Steve Nosanchuck. “I don’t think we’ll have that many, but we are hoping to add some more people; the board could certainly use the help.” And one of the ways the board will get help will be with the election of a new chamber president. After three years at the helm and four as vice president, Nosanchuck will be stepping down to devote more time to his business and family. But he won’t be far away. “I need to concentrate more energy on my business,” said Nosanchuck, who is hoping to stay on as the chamber’s past president. “But I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to do the Almond Festival again next year and work on building and maintaining that event – and that’s a big job.” Candidates interested in a position must be two-year chamber members in good standing, be willing to commit to bi-monthly board meetings, chamber mixers, and sit on at least
one chamber committee. “People need to understand the commitment in time and effort it takes to be a chamber director,” he said. “I think that anyone with an enthusiasm and willingness to commit to the chamber would make a great nominee. What we don’t want is someone who is just interested in a title or isn’t willing to work hard. But if they meet the eligibility requirements and want to serve, we would love to have them.” Chamber nominations are being accepted now through Oct. 30. In November, after candidates have gone through the vetting process, ballots will be mailed to all 170 chamber members for a vote, and the results will be announced at the chamber’s regular board meeting on Dec. 10. Nosanchuck said that while he’ll miss leading the chamber, he believes the time is ripe for a change: “My attitude has always been to leave the chamber in better shape than when I took over, and I’m sure that’s true for every president. I’ve been very lucky to have the boards that I have; they all work very hard. We’re a strong chamber and I believe a strong chamber is good for business. Now it’s time for someone else to take over.” To obtain a ballot or for more information on the chamber or becoming a member, call 925-625-1035 or visit www.oakleycham ber.com. The Oakley Chamber offices are located at 3510 Main St.
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OCTOBER 23, 2009
’Tis the season for tarantulas No self-respecting haunted house can operate without them. Our fear of them exerts a visceral power; our revulsion is automatic. When we want to make the skin crawl, we know what to do. Trot out TAKE IT UTSIDE the spiders. After decades of attempts to intellectualize my way out of it, I’m still a cardcarrying arachnophobe. The spider is a creature grotesquely unlike me. It sports GER eight legs and way ERICKSON too many eyes for my taste. It wears its skeleton on its sleeve and its abdomen in its back pocket. And it dines with a gruesome gentility, paralyzing its prey with venom, wrapping the hapless victim in silk while its innards liquefy, and returning later to sip away with a straw. No writer of horror fiction has dreamed up a beast more bizarre. The Nightmare on Arachnid Street might feel like a primal emotion, but some experts aren’t so sure. Recent studies suggest that our disgust at the image of a spider is a form of disease-avoidance response with historical and geographical roots. When plague swept through Europe during the Middle Ages, spiders came to be associated with the plague. The real
Photo by Ger Erickson
A male tarantula cruises for chicks at Mt. Diablo’s Donner Canyon. No, he’s not a 10-legged arachnid. Those two small frontal “stirrups” are used for hooking and neutralizing the female’s fangs before mating. culprits were certain rat-infesting fleas, a fact not established until the 19th century. But in a house struck down by plague, the spider’s proximity to the rat made it a prime candidate for blame. (Spiders often hung out in areas of the house, such as the thatched roof, also occupied by rats.) Fear of the plague clouded people’s judgment, and their natural aversion to spiders
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– at first no greater than to other crawling things – soon went haywire. In short, arachnophobia got its start as a “displaced anxiety” and became entrenched as an unconscious vestige of that anxiety. To augment this theory, researcher Graham C.L. Davey of City University, London points out that “the tendency of Europeans and their descendants to
be fearful of spiders does not seem to be shared by people in many non-European cultures.” In fact, many non-European cultures revere spiders as symbols of wisdom or good fortune. Prominent in the folktales of the Ashanti of Ghana, West Africa is the character Anansi the Spider, a lovable trickster similar to the god Loki in Norse mythology. Also in some areas of Africa, as well as Indo-China, the Caribbean, and among Native Americans and the aborigines of Australia, spiders are kept as pets, released at weddings as a token of good luck (and lovingly laid in the bed of the blissed-out couple), and even gobbled down (we’re talking lethally venomous spiders here) as a culinary delicacy. Mmmm. One non-fictional spider that inspires fear way out of proportion to its actual menace is the tarantula: huge, hairy, scary – and gentle as a lamb … unless you’re an insect. The male tarantula stops growing at about age 7, at which time he sheds his exoskeleton for the last time. Normally a nocturnal creature, the mature male leaves the protection of his burrow in September and October and goes looking for a mate in broad daylight. That procreative impulse is good for the species but hazardous to the suitor’s health. Out in the open, see Outside page 13A
OCTOBER 23, 2009
TALK ABOUT TOWN ill Kirk of Kirk Welding, right, studies his creation in front of his Brentwood Boulevard shop. The 16-foot sculpture includes a motion sensor that triggers ﬁreballs in its head and hand. Kirk plans to use his pyrotechnic pumpkinhead monster as a decoration for an upcoming party, but for now it’s been turning heads in town. • • • umors were ﬂying at last week’s Rotary Trade Club Dinner about who might be running for the Liberty Union High School Board of Trustees next year. Speculation is that the ballot might just include a three-person slate: Donna Becnel, Pam Taylor and Lea Brockman, wives of the three city councilmen who were served with papers announcing that petitions to recall them would be circulated by resident Kathy Fredenburg. Asked if they were indeed planning to run, and if they were, why, the women just smiled, declining to conﬁrm or deny the reports. • • • ometimes you just gotta conduct a wholesale clearance. On Oct. 9 at 1:47 a.m., a Brentwood police ofﬁcer
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ooking for a fun and safe way to spend Halloween? Take the kids to the Streets of Brentwood on Oct. 31 from noon to 4 p.m. to enjoy trick or treating, a parade and costume contest, face painting, bounce houses, pumpkin art and a haunted bus, sponsored by Tri Delta Transit. For those looking for a less spooky bus adventure, the Tumble Time Bus will also be on site for hours of fun. For more information, visit www.streetsofbrentwoodca. com. • • • f you’re looking to weigh in on the proposed Oakley Generating Station, a power plant awaiting approval from the California Energy Commission, mark your calendar for Monday, Nov. 9. Members of the commission will be at OakPhoto by Richard Wisdom ley City Hall to lead a public informational hearing at 5:30 pulled over a vehicle and found the interior such a mess that he cleared it all p.m. to discuss the project to be built out. By “mess,” we mean: A) the driver at the old Dupont property. The comwas drunk; B) one of the passengers was mission, not the City Council, will dealso drunk; and C) the third passenger cide whether the station will be built was subject to an outstanding warrant in Oakley, so if you want to put in your for his arrest. The ofﬁcer cleared out the two cents, make sure you’re there in interior and deposited the whole mess November. – Compiled by Press staff in the Martinez lockup bin for recycling.
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Improved medical records is in the cards by Samie Hartley Staff Writer When patients are admitted to the emergency room, medical professionals must make split-second decisions – sometimes without the medical history necessary to make a thorough diagnosis. But one Brentwood company is trying to change that. Mike Williams, president of the medical supplies store MedSolutions, knows the importance of easy access to medical records in an emergency. “Last year my dad was experiencing heart complications and was taken to the emergency room,” Williams said. “It took doctors a while to come up with the best course of treatment because they didn’t have access to all his medical records right away, so it got me thinking: why can’t people take personal control of their records?” Williams devised MedIDCard, a product the size of a credit card with a retractable USB flash drive that stores pertinent medical information that might come in handy during an emergency. The MedIDCard software, MedIDWare, is built directly into the card and can be accessed from any computer with no downloads necessary. As the card’s autorun software is both MAC and Windows compatible, medical professionals can access the card’s information at all times regardless of their computer’s operating system. MedIDCard users may input as much or little information as they’d like. Williams said the 2GB (2 billion bytes) on the card provides more than enough storage space for all your information. There are pages to enter information manually, but the card is also capable of storing PDFs of scanned medical records, X-rays and even legal documents such as wills and power-of-attorney declarations. There is also a print and e-mail function so information from the card can be sent to a doctor in a
Mike Williams, owner of MedSolutions in Brentwood, displays his latest product MedIDCard, a creditcard-size device that stores all your medical records in one easy-touse gadget.
Photo by Samie Hartley
non-emergency case. “It’s like an insurance policy in your pocket,” Williams said. “You never know when you’ll be in an accident and need access to this information. With the MedIDCard technology, you can keep all of this with you on your person. You can list your allergies and medications, your blood type, family history, immunizations, insurance contact information – you can list if you’re a donor. It’s all the critical information that doctors will need to know to accurately treat you. It’s all there. The MedIDCard speaks for you when you can’t.” Jane Schmitz, a rehab product specialist from Alameda, heard about MedIDCard from Williams and decided to try the product to keep track of her grandmother’s health records. “My grandma is 91 years old and she’s very independent, but this card helps us keep track of all her medications and store updated information about doctor’s visits,” Schmitz said. “She’s on at least 20 different medications, so this allows us and the doctors to have
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all her information right at our fingertips. This way, no matter who takes her to a doctor’s appointment, we’ve got all the needed information right on the card.” Schmitz said she was also surprised about how easy the card is to use: “I’m not very tech savvy, but the program is so simple to understand and the drop-down menus make it easy to plug in all your information. You never know when something might happen and you need access to all this information for yourself or a loved one, and it’s helpful to have it all with you in your purse or wallet. After seeing how much it’s benefited my grandma, I think I might even get one for myself.” According to Sutter Delta Medical Center Communications and Marketing Manager Angela Juarez-Lombardi, “We are always very encouraged when patients proactively collect important information regarding their medical history, and the product appears to take patients down that track. Depending on a patient’s condition or treatment plan, there can be a lot of information and paperwork
collected, so the idea of putting it in one place is a great idea.” She also mentioned that while the product is defined as universal, some computers in shared community areas such as an emergency room might have the USB port disabled to prevent the transmission of computer viruses, so a device like this might be more suited for private physicians until technology like this becomes more common. Williams knows it might take a while for a product like MedIDCard to catch on, but he’s confident that people be will drawn to the card’s ability to help people take control of their health records. “Having control of your health care is a big issue these days,” he said. “Most people – all of us, frankly – rely on the medical community to maintain our medical records. Not that we shouldn’t trust medical professionals. Of course we should, but this allows you to take control of your own records so that you see Cards page 7A
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WHAT HAPPENED TO THE â€œSHADOWâ€?? We keep hearing that there is another large wave of bank-owned homes about to hit the market. These are all the homes that the banks have foreclosed on (or should have foreclosed on by now), but havenâ€™t been put on the market yet. Why havenâ€™t they been put on the market? There are a variety of reasons. First, there were all the government-imposed moratoriums mixed in with the banks imposing foreclosure moratoriums on themselves. This is similar to how there are some programs in the stock market that put a halt to trading if the market trades down by more than so many points in a day. Sort of a â€œcooling-off periodâ€? to prevent catastrophic panic selling. A second reason is that many of these banks are just overwhelmed and canâ€™t keep up with the workflow to process all these foreclosures. It may sound silly, but a lot of them may be just sitting in a pile on someoneâ€™s desk, waiting for them to wade through the hundreds, if not thousands, of files they are responsible for. The third reason is a bit more complex. It has to do with the bankâ€™s reserve requirements
from the Federal Reserve. They are supposed to keep so much cash on hand to offset their â€œbadâ€? loans. Well, a lot of banks donâ€™t have enough cash, so they are delaying foreclosing on these homes to keep their reserve account intact. If they were to take on too many foreclosures, the Federal Reserve could declare them insolvent, and take them over. All these factors have combined to keep many bank-owned homes off the market this year, which has artificially depressed the number of homes for sale. The big question is when will they all finally get released onto the market? No one knows for sure. And now we are starting to wonder if the banks and the government are going to be able to keep finding ways to trickle the inventory out slowly, instead of in a big glut? If they have, then this IS the bottom of the market. 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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