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YOUR HOMETOWN WEEKLY NEWSPAPER
Vol. 11, No. 48
Community responds to charity theft by Samie Hartley
December 2, 2011
Cream of the court
Oakley residents rushed to the aid of community organization Friends of Oakley this week as news spread of the theft of $4,000 worth of toys and food amassed for a charity Christmas Basket program. A thief or thieves struck the organization’s temporary storage facility at the Almond Grove Elementary School gym sometime between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Tuesday. When Friends of Oakley President and Oakley Mayor Jim Frazier arrived at Almond Grove to prepare the facility for a sorting and gift-wrapping event to be held that afternoon, he discovered mountains of food and toys had been reduced to scraps. When news reached Mike’s Beef ’N’ Brew across town on Tuesday evening, restaurant patrons began a collection drive that amassed $375 within a few hours. News spread on Facebook as people shared the heartbreaking story with friends and pledged support. Frazier said the response has been overwhelming. As news of the theft appeared online, on TV, on radio and in print, the calls began to pour in. “I need to charge my phone; it’s been ringing all day,” Frazier said Wednesday. “I’ve heard see Theft page 15A
The opening tipoff isn’t far off, and our BVAL Basketball Preview spotlights the stars and sizes up the teams. Page 1B
Brilliant boughs East County residents with an appetite for tree-lighting festivities can choose from a tasty menu. Page 4A
Photo by Samie Hartley
Manual for merriment
Friends of Oakley volunteer Gabriel Helena, 9, begins a new pile of wrapped toys for children 2 and younger. The Friends of Oakley Christmas Basket storage facility at Almond Grove Elementary was robbed of most of its donated toys and food on Tuesday.
A special Thanksgiving homecoming by Rick Lemyre Staff Writer
For wounded Iraq war veteran Ricky France and his family, Nov. 5 was a roller coaster ride. The home he and wife Shannon rented in Loomis had been lost to foreclosure and, unable to find an affordable replacement, they and their five children faced homelessness in four days. Arrangements to move to a shelter had been made, and movers had arrived to take their belongings to storage. That’s when the phone call came: The Military Warriors Support Foundation (MWSF) was on the line to tell the Frances they were being given, mortgage-free, a fivebedroom house in Brentwood. “He was speechless and I
was crying,” Shannon recalled. “I kept thinking, ‘I’m not going to be homeless!’” The family, including Jon, 15; Destiny, 9; Erreanna, 8; Arhvia, 6; and Micah, 5, moved into the six-year-old house the day before Thanksgiving. “It’s beautiful; amazing,” Ricky said this week. “I’m still amazed and shocked.” Founded in 2007 by retired Gen. Leroy Sisco, the MWSF provides a variety of services aimed at helping veterans transition from the military to civilian life. In March of 2010 the organization embarked on its most ambitious effort, to give 1,000 wounded veterans free houses to within five years. see Homecoming page 12A
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Hook up with seasonal charities and entertainment by checking out our lineup of December events. Page 8A
Photo courtesy of JP Morgan Chase Bank
Wounded Iraq veteran Ricky France and wife Shannon stand inside their new Brentwood home with their children. From left are Arreanna, Arhyia, Micah, Destiny and Jon. The family was given the house, free and clear, by the Military Warrior Support Network and JP Morgan Chase Bank.
Laptop largesse go to news/WebExtras!
A computer distribution program is giving digital literacy a boost.
Wise workforce go to news/press releases
Shell Oil has donated $10K to a Los Medanos College industrial training program.
Arts .....................................10A Business ............................. 25B Calendar ............................ 27B Classifieds ......................... 20B Cop Logs ............................ 26B Entertainment ................. 15B Food .................................... 14B Milestones ........................ 12B Opinion ..............................16A Sports .................................19A FOR MOVIE TIMES SEE PAGE 5A
Black bargains go to multimedia/videos
Local shoppers braved the cold – and fellow shoppers’ elbows – on Black Friday.
DECEMBER 2, 2011
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DECEMBER 2, 2011
Foundation gives the gift of smiles by Ruth Roberts Staff Writer It was a morning of smiles all around, but for seven East County kids, those smiles will now last a lifetime. Sheffield Orthodontics recently placed braces on local teens as part of the Smiles for a Lifetime program. The national nonprofit organization provides free orthodonture to patients who can’t afford treatment. “It was a great week,” said Dr. Robert Sheffield. “The kids were so happy. There were lots tears from the parents and me. It’s such a life change for these children.” For the Hankins family – one of the recipients of the program – it was a day they’ll never forget. “As a dad, every time Asia and I discussed braces I would feel as though I was letting her down,” said Carlos Hankins in a letter to Sheffield. “When Asia told me she received a scholarship, she had tears of joy in her eyes, which brought tears of joy to mine … I am so grateful to your foundation.” Bringing smiles – and the occasional tears of joy – to local families is the impetus behind the program. Local dentists Drs. Wendy Herman and Bill Morrice provided free dental care for the seven recipients, and Dr. John Gilbert, an oral surgeon, volunteered to do wisdom-teeth extractions for two patients. This year, Sheffield is planning to offer 12 orthodontic scholarships, which includes free bands and ongoing treatment.
Smiles for a Lifetime recipient Stephan White poses with Dr. Robert Shefﬁeld, far right, after receiving his new braces. Stephan was one of seven local children who were recently awarded free braces and ongoing orthodontic care through the nonproﬁt organization. Photo courtesy of Sheffield Orthodontics
As part of the scholarship program, recipients agree to continue the good will by paying it forward to another group or organization that helps those in need. “As a family we created a program to serve some of the underprivileged in various communities,” said Hankins. “The name of the program is Project HELLO, which stands for Helping Everyone Live Life Optimistically. It has been nearly 10 years since our program’s conception and sometimes we feel
like giving up, but your generosity has motivated us to continue providing these services in these challenging times.” The East County board of directors for Smile selects children from the local area through an application process. Nominations are currently being accepted, and Sheffield encourages anyone with a need – or anyone who knows a child with a need – to apply. “The board is looking for children between the ages of 11 and 18 who really
need orthodontic treatment,” said Sheffield. “It’s the gift of a new smile, which hopefully leads to improved self-confidence and a dramatic change for these children. And that in essence, is the mission of Smile for a Lifetime.” Applications may be obtained by visiting www.sheffieldortho.com, e-mailing email@example.com or calling 925-757-9100. To comment, visit www.thepress.net.
DECEMBER 2, 2011
Lighting a trio of trees Kris Kringle gets a curious look from Avery Lasnier while attending last year’s Christmas tree lighting in Oakley. Oakley, Brentwood and Discovery Bay all hold tree lighting events this weekend.
Photos courtesy of ECCHS
Press file photo
East County gets into the holiday spirit this weekend with not one but three Christmas tree lighting ceremonies. Brentwood kicks off the tree lighting extravaganza Friday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. in the Brentwood Senior Activity Center, 193 Griffith Lane. Festivities include musical performances by local vocal groups, hot drinks and goodies plus a visit from Santa. The switch is officially flipped on the 24-foot tree at 7 p.m. Oakley hosts its tree lighting on Saturday, Dec. 3 at City Hall, 3231 Main St. The fun starts at 5 p.m. with performances by the Oakley Elementary School Dis-
trict Choir, the Freedom High School Choir and BLUSH, a local youth choir. Free cocoa and cookies will be served, and a “make-n-take” craft area for children provided. Santa will be on hand for the tree lighting following music. Discovery Bay also hosts a tree lighting event on Saturday, Dec. 3. The Discovery Bay Lions tree will be lit following the Parade of Lights, which starts at 6 p.m. Santa will also make a guest appearance at this event, so remember to bring your camera. For more holiday happenings, visit www. thepress.net/bookmark/16541918.
The Liberty Union High School Student Body Class of 1911 poses on the steps of Liberty High School on the corner of Maple and First streets. Built in 1908, the structure cost $8,500.
Stroll memory lane in ECCHS calendar by Samie Hartley Staff Writer
Back by popular demand and just in time for the holidays, the East Contra Costa Historical Society (ECCHS) calendar is now available for purchase, and this
year’s edition is better than ever. “We’ve received such a good response from the community. People really enjoy these calendars,” said calendar creator and ECCHS member Kathy Leighton. see Memory lane page 17A
DECEMBER 2, 2011
Missing the Tahoe road trip This Thanksgiving I was more thankful than usual. I almost didn’t see Thanksgiving this year; in fact, I could have appeared on the show “1,000 Ways to Die.” Apparently my Chevy Tahoe has been harboring some resentment against me, since last week it tried to kill me. HANGIN’ IN It began as a normal Wednesday HERE morning. Off to the gym I went; then realized I had forgotten to set our burglar alarm. I doubled back to the house, running late now for my class, and pulled into the VICKI driveway. I opened the MCKENNA garage and was about to hop out when I realized that in my rush I had put the car in reverse, not park. The driver’s door open, and my left leg out of the car, my Tahoe decided to back up. Fast. I guess it had places to go … without me! At first I thought it was funny, but I quickly realized that I was in trouble. I started hopping backward on my left leg and finally faced the truth. I had to fling myself backward, away from my quickly accelerating 8,000-pound vehicle. My right leg was still in the car, and as I threw myself backward, my shin caught the driver’s side door. Ooh! I gashed my shin, but at least I was out of the vehicle. Now I was lying sprawled on my driveway in my pink
workout shorts, assuming I was in the clear. But no. My Tahoe had other plans. It made a sharp left turn toward my right leg. I remember thinking to myself, “If I just tense my muscles really tight, I’ll be OK.” Obviously shock had made me delusional. Who am I? The Bionic Woman? Thank God the right front tire narrowly missed my leg. Now my Tahoe was gaining speed as it sped down my driveway – backward. It made a wide U-turn into the court. If there had been cars parked there, they would have been trashed. Luckily, the parking spots were all empty. I was jumping up and down, screaming, “Oh my God! Oh my God!” But no one heard me. Smooth jazz eerily blared from my car as it continued on its wild ride. I watched in horror as it backed up onto the lawn of the vacant house next door and effortlessly snapped the “For Sale” sign clean off. It backed up farther into the bushes that bordered the front porch, and mercifully came to rest. It sat there idling and, I’m pretty sure, grinning at me. I ran around to the driver’s side and hopped in. I quickly drove out of the bushes and parked it on my driveway. I was shaking like a leaf. I needed comfort. I ran to my neighbors’ house and rang the doorbell. I had eight minutes before my aerobic class started. My dear friend Suzanne answered. I was crying now. “Look what I did!” I said, pointing across the court to the hacked off “For Sale” sign
and mutilated bushes. “Vicki, you’re bleeding!” she said, pointing to my bloody shin. I also had a nice piece of road rash up my back from the backward dive onto my driveway, but adrenaline was coursing through my veins. I felt no pain. A heartfelt hug from Suzanne gave me the courage to run home, bandage my wounds, set the alarm and get to my class. Entering the gym, I must have looked a bit off. My friend Michelle gave me a big hug when I entered and asked me if I was OK. I gave her the short version of my brush with death before running to my class. I think I conducted a pretty good class too, all things considered. I was giddy with joy at having cheated death, and of course all that extra adrenaline didn’t hurt, either. Wow, if they could only bottle that! Walking back to my Tahoe, I saw something odd hanging from my bumper. It was an entire mangled bush from my neighbors’ yard. I quickly got rid of the evidence and drove home. The moral of this story, I have decided, is Slow Down! I couldn’t believe how many people told me that this type of thing had happened to them because they were rushing. Secondly, make sure your husband has a stiff drink in his hand before you tell him about mishaps of this magnitude. Thirdly, when your car starts making attempts on your life, take the hint. It wants to move on. You can find mine on Craigslist. To comment, visit www.thepress.net.
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DECEMBER 2, 2011
Piano prodigy wows Summerset Holiday The Summerset Orchards ballroom audience recently heard a pianist, an accomplished virtuoso, professional to the core, able to stand his ground with pianists of any age. It was the first performance in his hometown of Brentwood for Alex Marquez, but he’s already made a name for himself in San Francisco musical circles – and he’s only 13. Alex began his piano studies at the age of 4. In 2005 he was accepted into the prestigious San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he is currently studying with the renowned Jerri Witt. Alex has performed in many student recitals at SFCM since 2006. He has also given community-service performances at the Jewish Home for the Aged in San Francisco and Lone Tree Convalescent Hospital in Antioch. At the age of 12, he gave his solo concert debut in San Francisco. Playing before a packed house on Nov. 8, Alex presented a varied program of some of the world’s greatest piano music, beginning with the baroque of Bach’s “Well Tempered Clavier,” continuing through the classic period of Mozart, into the romantic period ushered in by Beethoven and exemplified by Chopin and Liszt, to the 20th-century Hungarian master Béla Bartók. And Alex didn’t stop there. His encore – a rocking boogiewoogie – put the cherry on the top. Alex is remarkably gifted, but his degree of technical brilliance, musicianship and memory work testify to countless hours
Brentwood resident Alex Marquez , 13, a student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, recently made his hometown debut at the Summerset Orchards ballroom. of diligent practice. In the Summerset concert, Alex’s trills and chromatic scales sparkled with clarity, and he displayed a power impressive in one so young. Underlying all his playing, from the technical to the emotional, there was a depth of feeling for music. He sits for a while before he begins each piece and one can see him shutting out the world and getting into the zone and bringing into focus the music in his mind and heart. The music was made much more interesting and enjoyable by Alex’s commentary. With remarkable poise and class he delivered
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comments brief and informative and very natural. He even let us in on some secrets of what was “really hard.” He said Liszt’s “Dance of the Gnomes” was a challenge because he had to keep all those gnomes dancing. Those gnomes danced the audience right up into a standing ovation threefourths of the way through the program. Many audience members expressed the desire to see Alex return yearly so locals can follow his career. And when he arrives on the world scene they’ll be able to say, “We knew him when …” – Contributed by Louise Jensen
Little Miss Everything continues its series of Peace, Love, Swap events with a special holiday-themed swap on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 4 to 6 p.m. Peace, Love, Swap personnel will be on hand to help customers interact with craft vendors and discover new-to-you items. This clothing and gear swap is like no other. Not only does it provide a huge selection of baby, kids, maternity, women’s and men’s clothes, but swap areas for toys, books, games, ride-on toys, sporting equipment, holiday decorations and home décor. Holiday portraits will be available courtesy of TDN Photography. By dropping off items for the swap from 3 to 4 p.m., shoppers qualify to shop the swap. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door. Little Miss Everything is located at 220 Oak St. in Brentwood. For more information, visit www.peaceloveswap. com.
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DECEMBER 2, 2011
SHOULD WE TAKE OUR HOME OFF THE MARKET DURING THE HOLIDAYS?
Halloween treats headed overseas Troops deployed overseas will soon receive more than 175 pounds of candy thanks to local school kids, residents and Brentwood dentist Tracy Benhamou. For the second year, Benhamou’s Oak Street Family Dental paid kids $1 per pound for their Halloween candy, which is being sent to deployed members of the military as a way to support troops and help keep East County kids cavity-free. The project is run in cooperation with Operation Gratitude and Operation Tooth Fairy. “The concept is simple,” Benhamou wrote in a press release. “Kids donate their
Halloween candy and they receive $1 per pound turned in. The troops receive sweet care packages to let them know they are not forgotten, and everyone ends up smiling!” The gift of candy from a dentist might seem ironic, but Benhamou is making sure there won’t be any dental complications from locals’ largesse: the candy will be accompanied by a few hundred free toothbrushes. To learn more about Oak Street Family Dental and future programs for Operation Gratitude and Operation Tooth Fairy, call 925-634-9237 or visit www.oakstreetfamilydental.com.
who are usually your best buyers because they have a deadline to meet and often company financial support so they are non-contingent buyers. Many buyers want to get their family settled before school starts up again in January. Also, when does your home look better than when you have it all cleaned up and decorated for the Holidays? Lastly, consider that many other sellers will take their homes off the market, so the buyers have fewer homes to choose from. If you absolutely, positively do not want to move until after the Holidays, that is still not a reason to avoid being on the market now. If you get an offer asking you to move out December 20, you can counter-offer a new date or just refuse the offer altogether. If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240MOVE (6683). To search the MLS for free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty – Advertisement
MEDA L LD AWARD
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Brentwood dentist Dr. Tracy Benhamou has fun with some of the 176 pounds of candy he bought from local trick-or-treaters. The candy (along with toothbrushes) will be shipped to U.S. troops serving overseas.
Photo courtesy of Oak Street Family Dental
Every year about this time I hear this question. There is a myth out there that home selling activity completely shuts down after Thanksgiving and picks up again in January. The truth is that homes sell all year round. I’ve had some of my best months in December. If you aren’t that motivated to sell, you don’t have a deadline to meet, and showing your home during the Holidays is too much of a hassle, go ahead and take your home off the market. However, if you do have to sell your home, and you do have a deadline to meet, then leave it on the market. It certainly isn’t going to sell if you take it off the market! Here are some reasons why the Holidays are a great time to be on the market—Some people take more time off of work, giving them more time to go look at homes. While there are fewer buyers looking, those that are looking are serious buyers. The “lookey-loos” go home, leaving the serious ones. These are usually the buyers that are getting relocated
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DECEMBER 2, 2011
’Tis the season for local holiday fun Holiday cheer continues to spread through East County. If you need help getting in the spirit this year, here are some holiday happenings to help get you in a yuletide mood:
FRIDAY, DEC. 2 BANC Tree Lighting The Brentwood Advisory Neighborhood Committee hosts its annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. at the Brentwood Senior Activity Center, 193 Griffith Lane. This year’s festivities include musical performances by local vocal groups, hot drinks and goodies, plus a visit from Santa. The lighting of the city’s 24-foot Christmas tree commences at 7 p.m. “A Christmas Story” Liberty High School Playmakers present “A Christmas Story” at 7 p.m. at the Allan E. Jones Performing Arts Center, 850 Second St. in Brentwood. Relive all your favorite scenes as Ralphie seeks the holy grail of all Christmas presents, a genuine Red Ryder 200-Shot Carbine Action Air Rifle. Tickets are $5; $3 for children 12 and under. Holiday On Ice Brentwood’s popular outdoor skating rink, back for the fourth year, is open seven days a week through Jan. 16. Come skate on a lighted ice rink protected from the elements by a magnificent tent. For hours and prices, call 925-513-1702 or visit www. brentwoodholidayonice.com.
FRIDAY, DEC. 2 THROUGH SUNDAY, DEC. 4 Brentwood Festival of Trees Enjoy three days of Yuletide fun at the Shadow Lakes Event Center, 401 West Country Club Drive. Guests are welcome to enjoy a pancake breakfast with Santa, music and munchies while admiring – and bidding on – trees decorated by community organizations. Proceeds support local
Press file photo
Children pose with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at last year’s Breakfast with Santa at the Brentwood Senior Center. This year’s event is held Saturday, Dec. 10. charities. For more information, visit www. brentwoodfestivaloftrees.org or call 925206-5087.
SATURDAY, DEC. 3 Santa Paws Don’t exclude your pets from celebrating the holidays. Homeless Animals’ Lifeline Organization has invited Santa to Pet Food Express, 5829 Lone Tree Way in Antioch, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to meet with your four-legged friends and pose for pictures. For more information, visit www. eccchalo.org. Christmas Tree Lot Oakley Boy Scout Troop 152 operates a Christmas tree lot at 3460 Main St. (behind Scheer Home Systems). The Scouts provide quality Noble and Douglas fir trees for sale, as well as fresh wreaths and charming orna-
ments. Delivery is available. The lot remains open through Dec. 18. For hours and more information, call 925-625-5391. Holiday Pet Photos Delta Animals Safe Haven invites families and their pets to Pet Smart, 5879 Lone Tree Way in Antioch, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for photos with Santa Claus. Photo-ops will also be held Dec. 4. For more information, visit www.deltaanimalssafehaven.org or call 925-219-0151. Santa’s Workshop Come see Santa arrive on the Polar Express at Sand Creek Crossing (aka Raley’s shopping center) in Brentwood. Festivities, which run from noon to 3 p.m., include face painting, a magic show, holiday crafts, train rides and photos with Santa. For more information, visit www.sandcreekcrossing.com.
Holiday Home Tour Hosted by the Liberty Union High School District Education Foundation, the tour visits homes lovingly decked out in old-world finery and festive holiday décor. To join the tour, meet at noon at Hannah Nicole Vineyard, 6700 Balfour Road in Brentwood. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.educationwins. org. Oakley Tree Lighting Join Oakley’s celebration of the season with the lighting of the city’s 30-foot Christmas tree. The festivities include performances by local children’s choirs, maken-take crafts, games and free refreshments. Santa will be on hand for photo-ops with the kids, so bring your camera. The celebration begins at 5 p.m. at the Oakley Civic Center, 3231 Main St. For more information, call 925-625-7044. Discovery Bay Parade of Lights Celebrating its ninth season, the parade begins at 6 p.m. at the Discovery Bay Marina. The Holiday Movie themed parade proceeds down Marina Road, turns left on Willow Lake Road, right on Riverlake Road, left on Sandpoint Road, left on Discovery Bay Boulevard and ends in the Discovery Bay Shopping Center, where the Discovery Bay Lions tree lighting takes place and Santa is available for photos. Antioch Lighted Boat Parade Decorated boats glide down the Delta at 6 p.m. during this annual holiday event. Best-view locations are the Antioch Municipal Pier and along Second Street in the city’s historic downtown district. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 925-325-9897. see Holiday fun page 11A
DECEMBER 2, 2011
Transforming the Aging Experience Join us for our
Holiday Open House Saturday, December 10, 2011 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm Festive Holiday Appetizers Holiday Shopping Santa Visits With His Elf Live Holiday Entertainment
Eskaton Lodge Brentwood, a gorgeous community nestled at the base of the foothills just east of Mount Diablo, offers a fresh approach to assisted living and memory care. The lodge features nine ﬂoor plans ranging from studios to two bedroom apartments with private bathrooms and kitchenettes, along with common areas, including a main dining room with “all day dining” hours, a private dining room, a living room with ﬁreplace, library, gift shop, activity center and computer center. What are you waiting for?
Engaging in Life, How to Put Your Whole Self In
Pre-Planning Holiday Event Presented by Bay Area Cremation & Funeral Services
Presented by Dr. Donald Huntington Brentwood Author & Editor of 110 Magazine
Learn how to pre-plan your own funeral and or cremation Veteran’s Beneﬁts • Information on Durable Power of Healthcare, how to ﬁll the paperwork out and why it is so important
Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 1:30 pm
Come and enter to win some fantastic holiday door prizes!
Light refreshments to be served!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 1:30 pm
RSVP for these events to 925-516-8006
Eskaton Lodge Brentwood 450 John Muir Parkway | Brentwood CA 94513-5186 | 925-516-8006 www.eskaton.org
License # 075601300
DECEMBER 2, 2011
Photo courtesy of Fred Ginsler
Photo by Paulette Doyle
Adams Middle School student Iris Fermin, seen here with her family and Brentwood Lions Club President Fred Ginsler, recently placed second at the district level in the Lions Club International Peace Poster Contest.
Alex Hernandez, holding ﬂowers, recently won ﬁrst place in the local competition for the Lions Club International Peace Poster contest. With her, from the left, are Andrea, Dwana, Alex, Juan, Michael and Stephanie.
Lions’ Peace Poster artists earn accolades Adams Middle School student Iris Fermin recently took first place in the Peace Poster Contest sponsored by Brentwood Lions Club. She went on to place second at the district level. Alex Hernandez, a student at Excelsior Middle School, placed first in the competition sponsored by the Byron Delta Lions Club and placed third at the district level. The district
winner, from Orinda, will advance to the multi-district competition. An international winner will be selected in January. Also honored at the local level were Brentwood Lions Club secondplace winner Suyrh Aryaei, also from Adams, and third-place winner Christina Le from Bristow Middle School. Excelsior Middle School students Ve-
nise DiMaggio and Veronica Muha placed second and third, respectively, in the Byron Delta Lions Club-sponsored contest. Lions Clubs International is sponsoring the program to emphasize the importance of world peace to young people everywhere. The posters were judged on originality, artistic merit and portrayal of the contest’s theme,
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Children Know Peace. The local students’ posters were among more than 350,000 entries submitted worldwide in the 24th annual Lions International Peace Poster Contest. The international grand prize winner will be awarded $5,000 plus a trip (for the winner and two family members) to the awards ceremony at Lions Day at the United Nations.
DECEMBER 2, 2011
The Discovery Bay Parade of Lights gets rolling this weekend and culminates with the Discovery Bay Lions tree lighting.
Press file photo
Holiday fun from page 8A SUNDAY, Dec. 4 Bethel Island Tree Lighting Ceremony Bethel Island welcomes the holidays with a tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. in the Community Park. The Antioch High School Choir will perform and the Bethel Island Women’s Club will provide yummy treats and warm beverages. Santa arrives at 6 p.m.
MONDAY, DEC. 5 Holiday Concert The Brentwood Community Concert Band hosts a holiday concert at 7 p.m. at the Brentwood Senior Center, 193 Griffith Lane. Admission is one new, unwrapped toy per person to be donated to Toys For Tots. The event includes treats and a group sing-along.
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, DEC. 9 AND 10 “The Little Match Girl” Delta Children’s Ballet Theatre presents “The Little Match Girl” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, and 3 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $15 and available at the ballet studio, 300 G St. in Antioch, online at www.deltachildrensballet.org or by phone at 925754-9833.
SATURDAY, DEC. 10 Special Kids Visit with Santa Smith Family Farms, 4430 Sellers Road in Brentwood, opens its holiday barn exclusively to special-needs children and their families from 9 to 11 a.m. For more information, call 925-516-9690 or visit www.spkids.org. Discovery Bay Yacht Club Lighted Boat Parade Celebrate the holidays on the water at this annual event that draws hundreds of local participants each year. The event includes awards for top entries and culminates in a reception at the Discovery Bay Yacht Club. For more information, call 925-516-7286. Breakfast With Santa Breakfast With Santa is held from 8 a.m. to noon at the Brentwood Senior
Center, 193 Griffith Lane. The $8 admission includes a pancake breakfast, visit with Santa and coloring activities. Registration is required. To order tickets, visit Tummies to Tots, 3860 Balfour Road in Brentwood, or call 925-516-0832. Breakfast with Santa Santa stops by Black Bear Diner, 3201 Main St. in Oakley, to enjoy breakfast with his favorite East County friends. Registration is required through the City of Oakley. Seatings are held at 9 and 11 a.m. For more information, call 925-6257044 or e-mail email@example.com. Bethel Island Lighted Boat Parade The San Joaquin Yacht Club hosts its annual boat parade at 4 p.m. Festivities also include a dinner at the yacht club and a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus. To enter the parade, call 925-684-3407 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.sjyc.org.
SUNDAY, DEC. 11 Antioch Women’s Club Holiday House Tour Five historic homes in Rivertown and three local businesses are slated for the Antioch Women’s Club’s 57th classic holiday house tour. The annual fundraiser benefits local charities and provides community scholarships. The house tours run from noon to 4 p.m., and a reception from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Veterans Building on the corner of E and Sixth streets in Antioch. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased in advance or on the day of the tour. For more information, call 925-7771831 or 925-565-9120. Christmas Cantata Brentwood Community United Methodist Church, 809 Second St., presents Lead Me Back to Bethlehem, a rediscovering of joy, peace and love of Christmas, at 7 p.m. Admission is free to this musical celebration of the true meaning of Christmas. People of all faiths are welcome. For more information, call 925634-3093.
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Homecoming from page 1A
It’s a Matter of Law By Rhonda Shelton Kraeber, Esq.
IT’S CHEAPER TO PREVENT IT THAN TO DEFEND IT Many, many employers practice an ostrich approach to employee relations; they stick their heads in the sand and hope for the best. Of course, this leaves another part of their anatomy exposed, but for some this strategy works just fine for years. But then that employee happens—and we all know who that employee is—and the gig is up. Employers MUST be pro-active and implement appropriate policies and procedures BEFORE that employee happens. Employment litigation is one of the most expensive types of lawsuits. Additionally, the California labor laws are “gotchas.” Employers are either in compliance or they’re not, and there’s no grey area. For example, employers either strictly comply with the overtime pay requirements or that employee will eventually bring a claim before the Labor Commissioner who will look back at three years of payroll records and potentially cause an audit of all employees’ payroll records. Typically, an employer that is out of compliance with one aspect of their employee relations is out of compliance with many. Recently, a woman employed by an upscale retail establishment reported her employer was violating the laws related to overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, frequency of pay, and itemization of pay, and had then fired her for filing a claim with the Department of Labor. Similarly, employers routinely confide they are operating without employee handbooks, without the required postings,
without a solid system for documenting employees’ hours worked, and the like. While most employers are not purposefully violating labor laws, the effect is the same—you pay. Defending against these claims and ultimately paying for years of transgressions is almost always a very expensive proposition and has been the downfall of many businesses. The solution is to get your ship in order NOW, before that employee comes along. In fact, that employee may already be working for you. For more assistance tailored to your particular business, contact attorney Rhonda Shelton Kraeber, Esq. at Alvis Frantz & Associates, (925) 516-1617 or Rhonda@alvisfrantzlaw.com. As the only employment law specialist in East Contra Costa County, I have been assisting employers with implementation of appropriate policies and procedures, as well as all aspects of the employeremployee relationship, for 20 years.
(925) 516-1617 WWW.ALVISFRANTZLAW.COM The information provided is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to your particular issue or problem. – Advertisement
“One of our biggest hurdles is convincing people that it’s real,” said Casey Kinser, program director for MWSF. “Everyone thinks, ‘Surely they’re not giving away a free home.’ We are, and we want a lot more people to know.” The house was donated to the foundation by J.P. Morgan Chase. Lisa Wolfe, communications director for Military and Veteran Affairs at Chase, said the gift was part of a three-part effort to assist veterans. Support is provided for finding jobs, increasing education and home ownership. About 70 houses have been donated through the MWSF so far, she said, averaging $150,000 to $200,000 each. “These are deserving veterans,” Wolfe said. “We feel we have to recognize what these people have given to protect us.” The program is open to wounded veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan who have left the military and who do not currently have a mortgage, Kinser said. Applicants are matched with houses located where the veteran has the best prospects for a successful transition, considering nearby employment opportunities, nearby support services and the location of family and friends. A Purple Heart medal for being wounded is not essential, she said, but strongly preferred. For the former Sgt. Ricky France, the Purple Heart was not an issue. A mechanic with the Army’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, France was part of the first Army unit into Iraq in 2003, right behind the Marines. He had served from 1990 to 1996, left the Army, and then re-enlisted following the 9/11 attacks. On Sept. 10, 2003, his unit was ordered on a re-supply convoy to a forward operating base outside Fallujah, with France behind the wheel of one of the trucks. Tactics were still evolving in those early days of the war, and France’s truck had not yet been up-armored against the improvised explosive devices increasingly employed by the enemy. France’s face tenses as he describes his commander’s orders to send the convoy on a route that had not yet been swept by scouts. He added a fourth sandbag to the floor of his truck. The convoy departed, made its delivery, and was just 15 minutes from returning to base when a string of seven bombs detonated around him. “I saw the puffs of smoke, and then whoosh,” he said, moving his hands and body as though being struck by a giant ocean wave. He had to be pried from the riddled wreckage of his truck, his body peppered with wounds and his knees severely hyperextended in the blast. He did not want to discuss others caught in the attack, other than to say he wasn’t the only one hurt. “No way I should have lived,” he said. “At the hospital, they told me I wasn’t going to walk again, but four days later I threw the crutches away and got up.” In addition to scars on his legs, arms torso and face, he came home with another reminder of just how close he had come to his end. “I saved a piece of shrapnel about that long,” he said, holding his hands about a foot apart. It had come through the floor of the truck, through three of the sandbags, and protruded 6 inches from the fourth, pointed right at his head. After a 30-day rehabilitation, France returned to his unit. Out of patriotism and
DECEMBER 2, 2011
desire to care for his family, he also “did the unthinkable – I re-enlisted for six years.” Those years ended in April of 2010, and he mustered out of the service despite his desire to stay in. Despite the pain that wracked his body and the onset of post-traumatic stress syndrome that made performing his duty difficult, he wanted to continue in a career where he possessed proven leadership and training skills (he has a pocket full of awards for his shooting prowess). “It was easier to stay in, where I knew what had to be done, than it was to get out and not know what to do.” Unable to find work, France and his family have been drawing $1,800 unemployment since leaving the service. He hopes to get a job with another federal agency, perhaps TSA, so he can add to his current 15 years of service and retire at 20 years. Returning to mechanics, he said, is not an option. “My body can’t do that any more,” he said. He greatly appreciates what the Army has done for him, he said – with the exception of a particular commander. Returning to civilian life, he said, has been “worse than I expected. I haven’t felt like I was the provider.” At times he feels “completely lost” and finds it hard to motivate himself. The gift from MWSF includes three years’ financial counseling and monthly visits from a homeowner mentor to help keep the new house ship-shape. At the end of the three-year mentoring period, the house will belong to the France family, free and clear. The family now has secure shelter, but the future still holds uncertainties. In addition to utilities, the property taxes must still be paid. The house had all-new appliances – “I flipped out when I saw brand-new, front-loading washer and drier!” Shannon said – but the worn furniture from their former 1,300square-foot house leaves their new, 3,000square-foot digs mostly empty, and it could be a while until enough is saved to fill it up. “That TV right there took me 10 years to get,” said Ricky, gesturing toward a 48inch flat-screen TV. Born in Antioch and raised in Concord, Ricky is familiar with the area and glad his new house is closer to the Martinez Veterans Hospital, where he receives treatment. This week, as children bounced noisily and happily about the house and prepared to start their new schools this week, Ricky and Shannon spoke of their gratitude to MWSF and Chase. “They are a godsend; absolutely amazing,” Ricky said. “We’re just thankful there are people and companies like them in this world. They do it for soldiers and their families, not for publicity. They are just here to help.” On Thanksgiving, Shannon said, the family spent its second day in the new house, but was still short of cash. “We were sitting here getting hungry about 3 p.m. and I remembered I had a gift card from Raley’s in Loomis for a turkey dinner,” she said. “Ricky went to the Lucky’s here to see if they would take it, and he came back with a turkey, vegetables – everything,” she said. “It worked out just like we’d planned a Thanksgiving dinner all along. “The whole day,” she said, “was just another miracle from God.” To learn more about the Military Warriors Support Foundation and its programs, log on to www.militarywarriors.org. To comment, visit www.thepress.net.
The Brentwood Press & Publishing Corporation is pleased to announce the winner of our RITY A H C T RITE Full Page Project FAVO C O N T E S j Favorite Local Charity Contest. ro s
r The Full Page P
The winner, with the most community votes is
Delta Animals Safe Haven CONGRATULATIONS! Delta Animals Safe Haven will receive a full page ad in our newspaper to use any way that will help their organization between now and November 2012. Thank you to all who participated in this contest and to the charities that were nominated. We appreciate all that you do to support the community.
Donâ€™t forget... Our next Facebook Contest begins Monday, December 5th
Scared of Santa Photo Contest www.facebook.com/thepress.net
DECEMBER 2, 2011
Lion-size largesse Editor: On behalf of Liberty Adult Education, I would like to thank the Brentwood Lions Club for its continuous support of our students. For the past several years, the Brentwood Lions have distributed food baskets during the holiday season for our students in need. They have increased the number of food baskets over the last three years. Due to the recession, we’ve had more students need a little extra help. It is service clubs like the Lions that help us reflect on the positives in our lives and let us truly be thankful for such great community support. A special thanks to Fred Ginsler, president; Barbara Wilson, Maggie Deluna, Liz Ramirez, Anita Wing, Jim Clark and Gary Hingley. Again, Liberty Adult Education thanks you for your continued support. Debbie Norgaard Coordinator Adult Education
Thanks for Thanksgiving Editor: On Thanksgiving Day, Golden Hills Community Church held its annual free Thanksgiving Dinner at the Veterans Hall in Brentwood. This year we served nearly 840 meals between those served at the hall and delivered to homes, and gave away nearly 150 bags of groceries and a great deal of clothing. We couldn’t have done it without a lot of help from the community. There were hundreds of people who helped in many different ways from inside and outside the church body. I couldn’t possibly thank them all by name, but there are some who deserve special recognition for their generous donation of their time, supplies, and/or money.
& PUBLISHING CORPORATION National Award Winning Newspapers The Press Newspapers are adjudicated in the the cities of Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, and the Delta Judicial District of Contra Costa County.
Founder & President Jimmy Chamoures Publisher & General Manager Greg Robinson Executive Editor Rick Lemyre Production Manager & Webmaster Lonnie de Lambert Business Manager Heather Reid Advertising 925-634-1441, ext. 115 Classifieds 925-634-1441, ext. 142 Editorial 925-634-1441, ext. 111 Circulation 925-250-1405 Editorial e-mail email@example.com Main Office / Brentwood 248 Oak St. Brentwood, CA 94513 Phone 925-634-1441 Fax 925-634-1975 Web site: www.thepress.net No part of this publication may be reproduced for commerce or trade without written permission from the publisher.
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In no particular order, they are the American Legion Post 202, Brentwood Ace Hardware and Jerry Thorpe, Ralph’s Catering and Ralph and Charlene Skelton, Joe Champlain, Linda and Dave Crippin, Sue Harris, Kim Jones, Donna Gutridge and Sue Campbell, Al and Nellie Garcia, Drew Hanson, Nancy McDaniel, Betty Walker, Dainty Center, Golden Hills Christian School and the Brentwood Press. Brian Sharp Chairman
Content – with a caveat Editor: My name is Britton Swisher. I am a Life Scout working toward my Eagle Scout rank. I would like to express my opinion on the new downtown. I really like the new wide sidewalks. The sidewalks will improve the restaurants and allow them to have outdoor seating. However, I do not like the palm trees at City Hall. The trees were far too expensive in poor economic times. Overall, I feel the City of Brentwood is a great place to live. Britton Swisher Brentwood
ward Winning News al A pa
EDITORIALS, LETTERS & COMMENTARY
Petitioners should back off parade Editor: I have been a longtime supporter of Director Dawson and I will continue support him. He made a mistake that he is obviously already paying for in other arenas of his life, and he’s been humble and apologetic both publicly and to those of us who’ve spoken to him directly. He’s still a good director, and the numerous positive things he’s done for Discovery Bay haven’t been erased. This whole recall hullabaloo is just another attack by the same group of people always involved in the local drama-of-the-moment against someone who doesn’t share their philosophy. You should think long and hard before signing any petition, since a recall election will cost our community $50,000 it clearly doesn’t have – didn’t we just have a rate increase? Now I hear that the people behind this petition will be invading our holiday parade with banners and messages of hate. I hope this is only a small-town rumor, and that no one would do something in such poor taste to dis-
respect our holiday celebration – and the reason for the season! Jannine Nelson Discovery Bay
Thanks for the Buddy boost Editor: We, the members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10789 and the Ladies Auxiliary, wish to thank all the generous people who donated to our Buddy Poppy distribution days, Nov. 4 at Raley’s and Nov. 4 and 5 at FoodMaxx, Safeway on Balfour Road and Safeway on Second Street. It was greatly appreciated. Buddy Poppy proceeds represent no profit to any VFW Units. All money contributed by you is used in the cause of veterans’ welfare or for the well being of their needy dependents and the orphans of veterans. We also want to thank the following business for allowing us to use their storefront: Raley’s, FoodMaxx, Safeway on Balfour Road and Safeway on Second Street, all in Brentwood. Steve Todd, Commander of Post #10789 Joan Ortiz, President of Ladies Auxiliary
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS City of Brentwood City Manager and City Council City Hall 150 City Park Way Brentwood, CA 94513 Phone: 925-516-5440 www.ci.brentwood.ca.us City of Antioch City Manager and City Council City Hall Third and H streets Antioch, CA 94509 Phone: 925-779-7000 www.ci.antioch.ca.us City of Oakley City Manager and City Council City Hall 3231 Main St. Oakley, CA 94561 Phone: 925-625-7000 www.ci.oakley.ca.us
Phone: 925-240-7260 firstname.lastname@example.org County Supervisor, Dist. V Federal Glover 315 E. Leland Ave. Pittsburg, CA 94565 Phone: 925-427-8138 email@example.com State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier Seventh State Senate District State Capitol Room 2054 Sacramento, CA 95814 Phone: 916-651-4007 1350 Treat Blvd., Suite 240 Walnut Creek, CA 94597 Phone: 925-942-6082 www.dist07.casen.govoffice.com
Town of Discovery Bay Town Manager and Community Services District 1800 Willow Lake Road Discovery Bay, CA 94505 Phone: 925-634-1131 www.todb.ca.gov
Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan 15th District P.O. Box 942849 Sacramento, CA 94249 3231 Main St., Oakley, CA 94561 Phone: 925-679-2715 www.democrats.assembly. ca.gov/members/a15
County Supervisor, Dist. III Mary N. Piepho 181 Sand Creek Road, Suite L. Brentwood, CA 94513
Gov. Jerry Brown Constituent Affairs State Capitol Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2864 www.gov.ca.gov/interact#email U.S. Rep. John Garamendi 10th Congressional District 420 W. Third Street Antioch, CA 94509 Phone: 925-757-7187 Washington office: 228 Cannon HOB Washington, D.C. 20515 Phone: 202-225-1880 www. garamendi.house. gov/contact
U.S. Rep. Gerald McNerney 11th Congressional District 2222 Grand Canal Blvd., Suite 7 Stockton, CA 95207 Phone: 209-476-8552 Washington office: 312 Cannon HOB Washington, D.C. 20515 Phone: 202-225-1947 www.mcnerney.house.gov U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer 1700 Montgomery St., Suite 240
San Francisco, CA 94111 Phone: 415-403-0100 www.boxer.senate.gov U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein 1 Post St., Room 2450 San Francisco, CA 94104 Phone: 415-393-0707 www.feinstein.senate.gov President Barack Obama 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, D.C. 20500 Phone: 202-456-1111
DECEMBER 2, 2011
Trevor’s Weekly Mortgage Matters Knock Knock
Photos courtesy of ECCHS
Contra Costa County’s ﬁrst concrete highway was built in 1919 at a cost of $24,000 per mile. This shot shows the road north near Kellogg Creek and Borden Junction.
Memory lane from page 4A “Longtime residents love the pictures from the good old days and newer residents like a peek at local history. This year, we’ve added even more historical facts.” This year’s calendar, printed on a higher quality paper, features local historical dates as well as an array of fun facts, such as state history (California adopted the bear flag on Feb. 3, 1911) and patent dates (the bicycle was patented on June 26, 1918). The calendar also includes the birthdates of all United States’ presidents. As Leighton and ECCHS members continue to dig through archives and newly donated historical materials, they maintain a list of significant local historical dates to include in future calendars. After receiving a historical memorabilia trove from the late Bob Gromm’s estate, Leighton has already begun compiling dates for the 2013 edition. This year’s calendar includes interesting local tidbits such as the opening of the Oakley post office on Sept. 9, 1898 and the birth of renowned local teacher Edna Hill on March 13, 1892.
“As we research, we’re always finding new things about the community,” Leighton said. “Some bits of history don’t have a particular date, but we’ve tucked in these little fun facts here and there. My favorite is that the Brentwood city budget was $28,550 in 1948. Today, it’s in the millions. It’s amazing how times have changed.” Each month of the calendar is highlighted by a historical photo. This year’s images include the Bethel Island Bridge, the Liberty High School class of 1911 and a vintage shot of Oak Street in Brentwood, of particular interest when compared to the recent downtown renovations. Leighton expects people will most like the 1926 photo of a group of packing sheds known as the Arbor, located on Lone Tree Way where the Valley Oak Nursery stands today. “I think a lot of the old-timers are going to like this photo best,” said Leighton, “because a lot of them will remember working there as children.” The 2012 ECCHS calendar costs $10 and is available for purchase at the Brentwood Press offices, 248 Oak St., or by calling Leighton at 925-634-0917.
Fundraiser for student set As the Oakley school community continues to gather around Ignacio Pena and his family in the wake of the O’Hara Park student’s recent illness, the business community has also stepped up. Black Bear Diner, 3201 Main St. in Oakley, is hosting a fundraiser for Ignacio on Tuesday, Dec. 20 from 5 to 8 p.m. Proceeds will help the Pena family with medical and other expenses. Participants may purchase in advance a $10 (cash-only) ticket for a “togo” dinner of a barbecue New York steak sandwich and potato salad. Tickets, which must be purchased by Dec. 15, are available at the Laurel Elementary School office, 1141 Laurel Road. A seventh-grader at O’Hara Park, Ignacio has been recovering in the hospital since he collapsed at school in October. He has five siblings, two of whom attend
PENA Laurel Elementary School. An account has been established in Ignacio’s name at the Bank of the West, 2195 Main St. in Oakley. Donations may be made at the bank or by calling 925-625-2211.
Do you hear that…opportunity is knocking! When we as residents of the delta can purchase real estate at prices less than large, publicly traded builders such as Toll Brothers, it is time to seriously begin thinking about investing in real estate. With builders paying eighty to ninety dollars a square foot and houses (almost brand new) selling for seventy to eighty dollars a square foot, it only makes sense to purchase a home while they are selling for literally less than replacement costs. Also, with the SMP 500 and the DOW both hitting four year lows in the past few weeks, no longer are large markets a safe haven for liquid investments. So consider this your window – “When God shuts a door He opens a window” – of opportunity! Rates are at a historically low level – recently dipping below the records set back in November of 2010 – and many of those who have lost a home through foreclosure, been through a Bankruptcy, or short sold their home can once again purchase sooner than they think. Chart In other words, if one of your doors has already shut – see above chart – it’s time to open another and once again own a home. By purchasing local real estate now, at the prices our market currently is willing to bear, in the long term you will be hard pressed to lose money. Our situation, and the tremendous down turn that led to it, has left in their wake opportunity that great minds only dream of. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Every person who invests in well-selected real estate in a growing section of a prosperous community adopts the surest and safest method of becoming independent, for real estate is the basis of wealth.”, and Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, “Real estate cannot be lost or stolen,
MEDA L LD AWARD
By Trevor Frey
nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.”
In essence, every piece of the two quotes above can be found in today’s market: the “growing section of a prosperous community” is checked off thanks to the community’s growing academic scores as well as the opening of the highly anticipated (and renovated) Downtown Brentwood. The “purchased with common sense” issue is covered by the market itself and the inability to now qualify for a loan unless you truly qualify for the loan. Not for nothing, but don’t you think there is a reason that many opportunity quotes – found above in this article to really drive this point home – revolve around a house? As always, I welcome all questions and or concerns pertaining to real estate lending on my cell phone, 925-726-1444 or via email, tfreymortgages@ yahoo.com. – Advertisement
DECEMBER 2, 2011
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