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AUGUST 17, 2018


Photo by Tony Kukulich

Michelle Campos

Proprietor 925.308.7963

Jill Fister

Debra Westlund

The Listing Lady, Realtor 925.765.5701

Production Manager | NMLS 256767 925.783.2052

DRE #01308896

: ©2018 PrimeLending, a PlainsCapital Company. (NMLS: 13649) Equal Housing Lender





AUGUST 17, 2018

Breaking barriers, expanding horizons


omen in business are smashing glass ceilings all across the country,

with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Debra Westlund with PrimeLending,

and East County is no exception. Here at home, women are

are examples of hard work, dedication and professional ethics. Connected

successfully climbing or building their own ladders in a variety of

through friendship and work, these women share their stories, philosophies and

businesses. Three local ladies, Michelle Campos of Campos Vineyards, Jill Fister

backgrounds in this week’s special edition of Women in Business.

Michelle Campos is one of those people whose confidence in the possibilities of life is inspiring. She and her husband, Ric, bought and took over Campos Vineyards two years ago with no idea how to run a vineyard or make wine.

Still, they have managed to learn the ropes and make their venture a success. After running a thriving storm-water and environmental business out of Brentwood for two decades, Campos thought she and her husband were headed for retirement. “My husband said we were going to ‘re-fire’ our lives here instead,” Campos joked. “I just love this community, the people, the families and the opportunity to make a difference in our community.” After purchasing the property, Campos jumped into her role as general manager and visionary for the winery. She surrounded herself with a strong team and learned quickly how to run her tasting room, book events and make sure everyone went home happy. “It was the scariest thing at first,” Campos admitted. “My role has been as general manager, but God has brought us the most amazing people, and it has been an amazing journey.” Recently, Campos made the decision to have her daughter replace her as general manager in order to focus on community events. Having her business family-run and an

Jill Fister is a real estate force to be reckoned with. Hard work and perseverance have earned her the appreciation and trust of her clients. Born and raised in East County, she is an award-winning realtor who has worked her way to the top of her field. And as a Brentwood resident, Fister loves living and working in her hometown. “I love that East County is my home,” said Fister. “I grew up here, know the area well and have many longtime friends and acquaintances.” Fister got into real estate out of curiosity. She thought it seemed interesting, so she obtained her real estate license and never looked back. One of her favorite things about her work is solving problems. “There’s plenty of that in real estate,” Fister joked. “Creating that clear pathway to get each client with their specific needs and wants through the tedious process of buying or selling a home to their goal thrills me.” Fister believes that real estate has allowed her to utilize her ambitious and enthusiastic ‘type A’ personality – being highly organized and aware of time management. “It has taught me about that daily stuff – those

responsibilities that most folks want to rush, avoid or just get through to get on with bigger and better things of life,” she said. During her 18 years of helping clients buy and sell their homes, Fister has learned a thing or two. One of her favorite sayings is, ‘Surprises are for birthdays, not moving day.’ She has been with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale Properties since 2015. “I became impressed with the leadership standards that Warren Buffet, founder, and the culture our president and owner Gretchen Pearson have created,” Fister explained. “Additionally, I simply adore the wisdom, support and heart of my Brentwood managing broker, Dan Barnes. Dan was the catalyst for my decision to make the move to his team.” She and her husband of 30 years, Darin, have raised two children in East County. Fister said she feels very blessed to be the mother of two such kind, ethical and hardworking individuals. “My advice for success to anyone in business is ‘show up,’” Fister said. “The successful person has made a quality habit of doing the things that failures can’t be bothered with or don’t feel like doing. Successful people don’t necessarily

enjoy doing them either, but their disliking is subordinate to the strength of their purpose.” Fister can be reached at 925-634-3200 or at www.

industry, Westlund’s longevity in the business has given her a unique set of skills. “My experience gives me a well-rounded background and knowledge to serve my clients well in 38 states while working for PrimeLending who offers service in 50 states,” said Westlund, who is the production manager at PrimeLending. “I have assisted families with (both) purchasing and building their dream home or facilitating a refinance for an existing homeowner.” Westlund’s passion for the industry stems from a deep-seated interest in helping individuals and families make their dreams come true. “It’s a two-fold kind of thing,” she said. “It’s service before oneself. So I think that my calling is that I really enjoy homeownership and blessing people with that first big major purchase in their life.” Life in East County with her husband, their five children and eight grandchildren has provided Westlund with deep roots, and giving back to the community is one of her top priorities. A member of the Rotary

Club of Brentwood and the Women’s Council of Realtors, she also supports many of the local real estate associations in their community efforts and was recently instrumental in coordinating a senior’s tea party at Trilogy. “I try to stay involved, I go out and help the Rotary with flipping pancakes and hot dogs to facilitate their functions – whatever I can do to help,” said Westlund. “Service and giving back are so important.” Westlund believes her drive and passion set her apart from other loan officers in the area. She also gives credit to the people she works with. “I’ve aligned myself with a wonderful team,” she said. “They have been great. And I would say to any woman, stay true to yourself and what your goals are and what your passion is. That will let everything fall into place for you.” For more information, contact Debra Westlund at 925-783-2052 or visit debra.westlund.


DEBRA WESTLUND Debra Westlund is a home loan professional who has served the residents of East County for nearly four decades. With her start as an escrow officer where she later transitioned successfully into the mortgage

integral part of the community is important to her. With her daughter there to oversee day-to-day operations, Campos is free to make her property a gathering place for events both big and small. “I like to see the big picture – that’s really what my gift is,” Campos said. “And I feel so much more confident than I did two years ago ... We knew we wanted to make wine and name it after our grandchildren and do some special blends. Someone once told me that a winery without a story is just a winery. So, we tell our story.” The Campos story includes great wines, a packed calendar and a crowded tasting room. When she isn’t running the winery, Campos prefers to spend time with her loved ones. Campos credits her achievements not just to herself but to her team. She also said she never let her gender hinder her. “I believe that God created us to be creative and gave us gifts,” she explained. “Realize what your (gifts) are and go for it ... Seize that opportunity.” Campos Vineyards is located at 3501 Byer Road, in Byron. For more information, visit www. or call 925-308-7963.



AUGUST 17, 2018




Moving to the beat of a new business A LY B R O W N


hile some women go on to shatter glass ceilings in the corporate

world, others are making leaps as entrepreneurs. For Kandyce Jones-Olson that proverbial business leap was also quite literal – as a former dance and fitness instructor, she decided to open Barre Beat, a barre studio in Brentwood, after discovering East County was lacking. “I’ve been doing barre for about seven years, and it got me into the best shape of my life,” Jones-Olson said of the workout that combines elements of ballet barre exercises, yoga and pilates. “When I moved here from San Jose three years ago, I was looking for a barre studio and couldn’t find one, and I just thought, ‘This is my opportunity.’” That thought sent her down the path of learning and developing a business plan. And for the past two years, she’s been attending small business association meetings, learning how to get funding and working with a consultant who helped her create a vision and goals for the business, which just celebrated its grand opening this month. Along for the adventure of running a business is one of Jones-Olson’s closest

Photo by Tony Kukulich

Kandyce Jones-Olson is the owner of the newly opened Barre Beat, a boutique exercise studio in Brentwood that specializes in barre classes – a combination of ballet, yoga and pilates. childhood friends, Christine Powell, who also moved to East County from San Jose and now serves as the studio’s general manager. The women have known each other since the third grade and grew up dancing and cheerleading together. “We currently have seven teachers, and we offer a variety of classes – barre,

dance, yoga, FIIT,” Powell said. “Unlike a barre class at a local gym, we use traditional (wall-mounted) ballet barres and all of the instructors are trained by the Body Barre Method.” The exercise classes also flow more like dance classes – choreographed to the rhythm of the beat, hence the name – but

Powell noted the guests don’t need to have a dance background to participate. In addition, the studio features a shopping area where patrons can find fashionable barre-themed workout clothing. “Our main goal for the community is that we want people to have fun,” Powell said. “I know people have fitness goals, but it can be daunting, so we want to build a community with a boutique family feel where you can walk in the door, chat, exercise, shop and (the staff) greets you by name.” Jones-Olson said Barre Beat is currently seeking more teachers in order to expand the offering of classes and hours. For those interested in taking their barre commitment to the next level and becoming teachers, there will be a Barre Body Method training seminar at the end of September. “What I think is different about barre is that, when you walk into a barre class and see the 1- to 2-pound weights, you think, ‘Oh this is going to be an easy class,’” said Jones-Olson. “But you’re working, literally, from head to toe, so the concept behind barre is you work your muscles to exhaustion and then you do a deep stretch and that defines the muscles, creating long lean muscles.” Barre Beat is located at 5471 Lone Tree Way, in Brentwood. For more information, visit, or call 925-679-4428. To view video, visit multimedia

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AUGUST 17, 2018

Educators taking new leadership roles A LY B R O W N


eadership at a Brentwood elementary school will soon shift hands from one woman

to the next in what was once a maledominated role. Mary Casey Black (MCB) Elementary School Principal Liz Ybarra recently announced to her staff and families that she has accepted a position within the district as a curriculum coordinator and that Maria Gonzalez, outgoing Edna Hill Middle School vice principal, will fill her shoes. “I am so proud of the work that Mrs. Ybarra has done to build Mary Casey Black School into such a wonderful learning community,” said Brentwood Union School District Superintendent Dana Eaton. “Ms. Gonzalez will be an outstanding principal for Mary Casey Black School. She has great passion for working with students and families. Her 10 years of school administration experience will help make this transition very smooth for MCB students and staff.” Ybarra noted the coordinator position was posted in July, followed by a process to determine if she would take over the seat vacated by longtime educator Julie Dooley. “When I was selected, it was bittersweet,

Photo by Tony Kukulich

Mary Casey Black Elementary School will see new leadership this year, as Principal Liz Ybarra, left, steps into a new role as curriculum coordinator at the district office. Filling her shoes will be Maria Gonzalez, outgoing vice principal for Edna Hill Middle School. because even though I was thrilled, I love this staff and I love the kids,” Ybarra said. Ybarra’s extensive career in education began 26 years ago and took her to the northernmost portion of California, before Mary Casey Black – Ybarra’s former teacher and mentor and the eponym for MCB – encouraged her to return home and work at Edna Hill in the mid-90s when the middle school was only fifth and sixth grades for a short spell. “Around that time, Mary Casey

Black also encouraged me to get into administration, so while I was working full time as a teacher, I was working on my master’s degree,” Ybarra said. After earning her degree, she worked in the Oakley Union Elementary School District as a principal for Laurel and Oakley elementary schools from 2000 to 2005, before her mentor called her again. “Mary Black called me and told me about the opportunity to apply for a coordinator position with the district for its

English learner program, so I returned to Brentwood,” Ybarra explained. Soon after, she became the vice principal for Garin Elementary, and then in 2013, she began the process for opening a new school site that would be named for Mary Casey Black, a woman whose impact on education and her community did not go without recognition. But always one to welcome new challenges, Ybarra will now go on to work in the district office with a team of other educational coordinators. “It’s different than being a site administrator, and it has a different scope,” Ybarra said of the role. “To me it’s about serving, and I will be serving the eight elementary schools, taking a look at curriculum and instructional practices and coordinating staff development. There are teams of teachers identified as instructional coaches, and I will be working with them before they go back to their sites and provide that professional development – new standards, best practices – so that our students are receiving instruction that gives them access to new standards.” And as Ybarra prepares for her last day Friday, Aug. 17, Gonzalez has been undergoing training to prepare her for her first day Aug. 20. see Educators page 6B

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How do I know if a Reverse Mortgage is right for me?


reverse mortgage is a lifestyle

sign them. I only have one word for you… Don’t. Even if they send “someone” to your home to assist you with the signing, that person is usually a notary, or a signing service. They are not reverse mortgage specialists and do not hold a Mortgage Loan Officer license.

choice. It is right for many and not appropriate for others. How can you

determine whether it is something you should consider? I have a client who hit the nail on

This is a decision that will affect the rest of your life. It is a big decision. Education, and time to absorb the information, is essential to the immediate success of your reverse mortgage but most importantly, the long term success of your reverse mortgage.

the head. She said “I mentioned a reverse mortgage to my friend and she instantly said ‘oh don’t do that, it’s bad’ with no further facts about why it was bad”. My client said “that’s when I decided I would find out the truth for

I have been in the mortgage business for 35 years and offering reverse mortgages exclusively for over 10 years. I have spent my entire career in the San Francisco Bay Area.

myself”. Education is the key to life. Exploring a reverse mortgage is just like any other learning experience. We often like to start with our peers, our kids, or our siblings to discuss big decisions. It is perfectly natural. Unfortunately the FHA insured reverse mortgage product still has some pretty serious fallacies that continue to float around and therefore it is also important to speak to a specialist – face to face. There are so many ways to use a reverse mortgage and so many reasons why people consider a reverse mortgage, that a “sit down” is imperative. This meeting is where you learn how the program works, why the program works, and most importantly, will a reverse mortgage help you to meet your goals. Everyone has different reasons for wanting to learn about reverse mortgages. Some people are very “comfy” with their current income but would like to travel, or buy a vacation home, or provide early inheritance to their kids so they can watch them enjoy it while they are still alive. Others may be struggling with monthly expenses and being able to rid themselves of their mortgage payment would make life much less stressful; while others may have healthcare needs or require home improvements to allow better accessibility. The reasons and the goals are as varied as the colors in a crayon box. A little food for thought as you begin your educational journey. Who owns your home if you have a reverse mortgage? You do, just like you do now. Will reverse mortgage proceeds affect my income taxes? No, reverse mortgage proceeds are tax free. How can I take the proceeds from a reverse mortgage?

Beth Miller-Rowe has been in the mortgage industry for 36 years specializing in reverse mortgages for the past 10 years. Beth has degrees in economics and business administration.

There are several different methods of receiving funds from your reverse mortgage. The first thing we do is pay the closing costs and pay off any existing debt against the home including a first mortgage, and/or HELOC. After that, remaining proceeds are available to you in a variety of ways. You may take a lump sum, set up a line of credit, or set up a monthly disbursement to yourself. I hear reverse mortgages are expensive, is that true? As I said earlier, a reverse mortgage is a lifestyle choice. It is not inexpensive but the costs come right off the top of the loan amount, not out of your pocket. There are costs, and you should still consider them. It is important to remember, other than the required counseling session (approximately $150), the costs come out of the loan at closing. The benefits of a reverse mortgage most often outweigh the expense of taking out a reverse mortgage.

Call me today. I will come out to your home and meet with you in the comfort of your home. We will explore what you hope a reverse mortgage can do for you. I will review all the information with you and then leave it with you to re-review, mull over, and you decide if it is right for you. If it is, give me a call back and we will get started. In the meantime, remember, this is what you worked for your entire life, enjoy every day! – Advertorial

Let’s take a look and see if we can Make Your Retirement Dreams Come True.

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I went on the internet and inquired about a reverse mortgage. Oh My Gosh, my phone and my email blew up with people wanting to sell me a reverse mortgage. Unfortunately many times when you put your personal information on the internet it is sold over and over and over again. Some companies rely on this as their sole source of business. You are usually talking to someone in San Diego, Oklahoma, or Florida. The sole objective is to get you to sign papers as fast as possible. They will Fed Ex documents to you the next day and pressure you to

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*Reverse mortgages are loans offered to homeowners who are 62 or older who have equity in their homes. The loan programs allow borrowers to defer payment on the loans until they pass away, sell the home, or move out. Homeowners, however, remain responsible for the payment of taxes, insurance, maintenance, and other items. Nonpayment of these items can lead to a default under the loan terms and ultimate loss of the home. FHA insured reverse mortgages have an up front and ongoing cost; ask your loan officer for details. These materials are not from, nor approved by HUD, FHA, or any governing agency. **American Pacific Mortgage Corporation is not financial service company or licensed tax advisors; the material provided is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment, tax and/or mortgage advice. Although the material is deemed to be accurate and reliable, there is no guarantee it is without errors. We are not financial or tax advisors, please contact your financial professional for your personal financial situation.




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Gonzalez grew up in Pittsburg – the 10th of 11 children and the first of them born in America. Her parents, who emigrated from Mexico, instilled in all of the Gonzalez children the value of education and immediately became involved with the bilingual parents club to enhance their children’s educational experience. “That was our way out – our way to accomplish whatever they wanted to do in life,” she said. Gonzalez attended Santa Clara University on an academic and softball scholarship and graduated in 1998. From there, she began teaching a bilingual fourth-grade class in San Jose but soon realized she could not afford a

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home in that area on a teacher’s salary and moved to Sacramento to teach fifth grade in 2000. Her career journey then took her to Southern California where she taught high school for five years and coached sports. Much like Ybarra, she was encouraged to pursue an administrative position. She earned her master’s degree and returned home to East County to work at Edna Hill as a vice principal for six years. She then became principal at Hillview Junior High in Pittsburg for a few years but ultimately returned to Edna Hill – the school site she’ll now leave to become principal for MCB. Her 4-year-old daughter looks forward to attending kindergarten at MCB next year. “She’s excited to be an owl, too,” Gonzalez said. Edna Hill Principal Kirsten Jobb expressed her excitement for Gonzalez to take this opportunity. “She is an ethical and passionate leader who consistently keeps the lens of student achievement and the positive culture of the school at the forefront,” said Jobb. “I have had the good fortune of working alongside Maria for over eight years and know that the students, staff and families of MCB are in excellent hands. We wish Ms. Gonzalez the absolute best and will miss her tremendously.”

On moving forward, both women touched on the bittersweet cycle of change, of gaining new opportunities and of leaving cherished staff and schools behind. “The culture at Edna is amazing, and you build relationships with staff and families, but when it was announced that I was leaving, several students told me their younger siblings attended MCB,” said Gonzalez. “It was nice to see that (our schools) share a community and a lot of families. And then to be able to come here and continue the amazing work Liz and her team have done is an honor. MCB has a great, close-knit feel and everyone has been very welcoming.” Ybarra took pride in the growth and culture rooted at MCB and was grateful for the many helping hands who made it possible. “I want to just thank the community for trusting me with this school and the time and energy that people gave to volunteer and make those extra enrichment programs possible,” she said. “I’m really humbled by the dedication ... and I think it’s going to continue – the spirit of this school is alive and well ... I feel at peace that the next phase of this school is going to be a positive one.” To view video, visit multimedia

Finding work after 50


nemployment isn’t easy

the 21st century is unlike job hunting in decades prior. Networking can mean the difference between unemployment and landing a job. Go to job fairs and join professional organizations that host events where professionals in your field can gather. ♦♦ Turn your age into a positive. When interviewing for a job, applicants should make an effort to showcase their enthusiasm about working with and learning from younger colleagues, while also noting their desire to commit long-term to a company. Some hiring managers may even view older candidates as potentially more reliable than younger workers simply looking to gain experience before moving on to the next opportunity. Finding work after 50 is not always easy, but job seekers can still break in with a polished resume, a positive attitude and a creative approach. – Courtesy of Metro Creative

for anyone, regardless of their age.

But unemployed women over 50 may find it especially difficult to find opportunities. Those struggling to find work can consider the following strategies: ♦♦ Revisit your résumé. Women over 50 have no doubt updated their résumés to reflect their most recent professional experience. But they may need to trim some of the fat in regard to their work life 10 or more years ago. Today’s hiring managers may only be concerned with recent experience that illustrates skill sets that are relevant to today’s jobs. Also keep in mind that computers are selecting the first round of candidates now. So make sure keywords from the job listing appear in your resume. ♦♦ Embrace 21st century job hunting. Finding a job in the second decade of

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AUGUST 17, 2018




The magic of girl power


aving “it all” is a concept working women have aspired to for nearly 40

years and is a conversation women continue to have. A recent study with Dr. Emily Balcetis, New York University associate professor of psychology, asked women to define their ideal life as part of the ItAll social experiment. The experience explored how women answered questions alone versus in the presence of other women in their lives. The results showed that women help each other set a higher bar for themselves. In fact, 89 percent of women set more ambitious goals in the presence of other women. Despite societal stereotypes that suggest female relationships encourage anxiety, pressure and judgment, this experiment determined that women have a positive impact on other women as an engine for ambition. “We rarely talk about the positive power of female relationships that we saw firsthand in the ItAll experiment,” Balcetis said. “Women can encourage each other to shoot for more where it matters most, rather than working to accomplish something less fulfilling only because society says


they should. Women have a truly unique way of inspiring each other to reach their own greatest potential.” Balcetis offers these tips, which were observed during the ItAll social experiment, to support women aspiring to be the best versions of themselves: Be a Role Model A role model can set standards for an aspiring woman to work toward while proving that certain goals are, in fact, attainable. Provide Encouragement Take stock of the women in your life, including family, friends and social and professional acquaintances. Consider where you may be able to lend support or nudge someone into higher aspirations. It may mean encouraging someone to set or achieve a certain goal, or it may mean challenging someone to take a leap, like applying for a challenging new position. For example, the ItAll experiment first surveyed female participants individually then allowed them to express their aspirations in the presence of familiar, influential women in their lives. Life choices became less conservative when others were involved. For example, participants declared a desire for higher salaries, chose to work more hours, wanted to spend more time with friends and be more involved with children.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

A role model can set standards for an aspiring woman to work toward while proving that certain goals are, in fact, attainable. Start a Conversation It’s been said that variety is the spice of life, and no place is that truer than among women working to define their own ambitions. Engage with women from different backgrounds and start important conversations that may open your

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Smile of the Week


(925) 240-0333 7730-A Brentwood Blvd.


All American Garage Doors believes in honesty, quality, reliability and customer service as a top priority. Customers speak directly with the owner of All American and can expect sameday service on repairs 99 percent of the time. All American provides E MEDA NZ both residential and commercial AWARD services, personalized to every customer.

8413 Byron Highway, Brentwood (Just N. of Sunset Rd.)






Jose Martinez, Agent Insurance Lic#: 0705354 2200 Sand Creek Road Brentwood 925-634-2333 2017



Greg Harrison (925) 516-0451





14 years running

LIC. # INSURED 888355 PL & PD

Come visit our beautiful showroom!

Providing Excellent Service for over 45 Years


1201 Auto Center Dr., Antioch

Lic. #0G87207

Free Estimates On New Installations And Replacements

925 754-2730

■ Countertop Installation & Fabrication ■ Plumbing Fixtures ■ Tile & Flooring CONTRACTORS ■ Cabinetry WELCOME!

AGENCY, INC. “Your Home & Auto Specialists”


Call Dale Manning



M-F 9am-4:30pm • Sat 9am-2pm


Bay Area Wine Tours! SUMMER SPECIAL

5 hour Wine Tour ~ only $79 00

• Monthly • Deep Clean • Windows • Biweekly • Move-In/Out • Blinds

per person, w/ 8 person minimum

• Kitchen & Bath Remodels • Additions • All Phases of Construction

Decks Docks Fences Shade Structures

G & S Construction Mike Graves – owner


Lic. #018971 • Bonded & Insured








201420 2 133 20 2 111




20 2 166









(Discovery Bay Resident)


20 2 088

Onsite Barbeque & Catering

We Bring The To You!


Call or Email Today for FREE Quotes!


Email: 201 N. Civic Dr. Ste 130 Walnut Creek 94596

Dianna Dunbar

Each Keller Williams Office is Independently Owned and Operated

REALTOR® CA DRE #01838069




Direct: 925-783-0111 Fax: 925-934-3422

Ashley Gilchrist


700 Harvest Park Dr., Brentwood

634-7742 •


Clean • Courteous • Dependable


“You name it, we can frame it!”




10% OFF Deep Clean

Call Today 925-383-5728 Barbara Williamson


Custom Framing & Gallery

Napa • Lodi • Livermore

Lic #1009991 A.B.




• • • •

10% OFF


State Contractor's Lic. #792474


· Tile & Stone Cleaning, Sealing · Upholstery Cleaning · Recommended by National Flooring and Supply · High quality work, fair pricing




All American Garage Doors



(925) 625-1940



Lic. #826031


Open 7 Days a Week, Dawn to Dusk On-site Security

Jack Fertado Owner

Same Day Professional Service 2013 Broken Spring Specials 2014 New/Remodel Installation 2016 Quality Guaranteed this ad for CSUH Graduate 2017 Mention


$55 FLAT RATE + Deposit


Offering Boat, RV & Trailer Storage

• • • • •



Support Your Local Businesses!

Longway T’Go Ranch

Garage Door Problems?




AUGUST17, 2018






Matt Baker


Locally Owned & Operated

“Redefine your expectations and get more from your bookkeeper.”


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