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August 22, 2008


Beijing trip more than Olympics How did you spend your summer vacation? JAY BEDECARRÉ Clayton Pioneer


Well I accepted an invitation from my brother Tom to accompany him on a sixday visit to the Beijing Olympics! Our Games itinerary included gymnastics, swimming (yes, we got to see Michael Phelps win two gold medals and Concord native Natalie Coughlin take a medal too), diving, field hockey, women’s beach volleyball and the first day of track and field in the Bird’s Nest, where the closing ceremonies will be held this weekend. We also visited the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and a classic Beijing Hutong. The experience was an once-in-a-lifetime chance to combine my favorite sports event with a tourist’s experience in this historic land.


Ordinances, regs are the rule of law With the race for Clayton City Council in full swing, I thought I would address city rules such as ordinances, licenses, permits and land use issues. The new candidates for City Council and all of us should pay attention to planning issues. I am of the opinion there is not a street in the city without an illegal structure or some other violation of the City Code. We are a society of laws. No society can long endure without a set of rules or laws. This need for social regulation produced the Code of Hammurabi and the Ten Commandments, to note but two sets of ancient rules. In the 1800s, the Ten Commandments were the only law in what became the state of Hawaii. Laws change, as a perusal of the Hawaiian Penal Code will verify. As time goes by, it seems laws get more and more complicated. Many violations of the law are made by people unaware

See Mayor page 10

With health department issues solved, Cup O’ Jo reopens

THE GREAT WALL We went to the Great Wall at Miyuan less than two hours from Beijing. We walked up a small roadway sandwiched by the cheesiest of souvenir stands. It seemed like everything was “$1” until you started bargaining and found nothing was $1. You take a ski lift up to the wall, built Photo by Jay Bedecarré to keep out the Mongols in the north A FAMILIAR SIGN OUTSIDE any American concert or sporting event reads "I Need Tickets". Almost always it's being held by a ticket scalper seeking to get extra tickets and re-sell them to those willing to pay a premi- from coming into China, whether as an um to see their favorite performer or team. At the Beijing Olympics things weren't much different, or was this invading force or to take the “fruits” of the Chinese farmer’s harvest. someone who just had to see Michael Phelps make history? The day we were there the views were good. We could only imagine young Chinese soldiers during bitter cold, snowy winters and brutally hot, humid summers living with their families in the tiny watchtower room keeping an eye out for foes. They would signal Paul Revere-like with fires to indicate the volume of enemy investigation but is not considered to be forces in their area. suspicious in nature. After walking along the Wall filled with If readers want to donate to the asso- mostly foreign tourists we went to the ciation to replace the hay and other items nearby Xiaolongpu Restaurant for an lost, call CMDTRA president Diane See Beijing, page 8 Jorgensen at 408-9700.

Trail Ride club loses barn to fire

Family produce stand at odds with the city code

TAMARA STEINER Clayton Pioneer

The Cup O’ Jo coffee shop on Main Street opened last week after being closed for more than two months for health department infractions.

ANDRÉ GENSBURGER Clayton Pioneer Tamara Steiner/Clayton Pioneer

A CHARRED TRUCK is all that’s left after a fast moving fire destroyed the haybarn and contents at the Mt. Diablo Trail Ride grounds Aug. 5. TAMARA STEINER Clayton Pioneer

Tamara Steiner/Clayton Pioneer

CUP O’ JO re-opens with expanded menu In a June 5 inspection, officials determined that the shop, owned by locals Kristy FerreiraBarbosa and her husband Peter Barbosa, needed coved

See Cup O’ Jo, page 4

Quick reactions and cool heads saved the day earlier this month when a fire destroyed the Concord Mt. Diablo Trail Ride Association’s hay barn. The CMDTRA property is located about halfway up Mt. Diablo via Russelman Road. “It could have been a whole lot worse,” board member Synthia Hakola said of the fire that burned the hay barn, a truck inside and a scant one acre of tinder dry grass and brush. “Our members acted fast and the fire department was here within 15 minutes.” Many of the association’s members live on property leased from the association and were close by when the fire started a little after noon on Aug. 5. Mike and Paulette Probsts, who live near the barn,

What’s Inside All About You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Around Town . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

alerted the fire department and other neighbors. “An ounce of prevention really worked,” Hakola said. “We had the fire hoses near the hydrants and neighbors came down to help fight the fire.” By the time the first trucks arrived on the scene, the barn roof had collapsed. In all, 12 trucks responded from the California Department of Forestry Sunshine Station on Marsh Creek Road and from Contra Costa Fire. The fire was controlled early and there were no evacuations of people or horses. Association members formed teams of four and stood watch around the clock for three days, putting out several “startup” fires. The barn and truck are insured, says Hakola, but the contents of the barn weren’t. The cause of the fire is still under

Book Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Church News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Classified . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Community Calendar . . . . . . . . .18 CVHS Student Reporter . . . . . . .11

Deal With It . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Food for Thought . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Garden Girl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 Movie Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Pets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

A unique controversy is in play in Clayton. Until recently, the Lewis family sold excess homegrown fruit and vegetables outside their home at the intersection of Pine Hollow and Mitchell Canyon roads. Following an anonymous complaint, they learned they are in violation of city code that designates it a commercial activity. Bursting from gardens along both sides of the property and the fence running the length are grapes, melons, cantaloupe, lettuce, eggplants, tomatoes, zucchini, sunflowers, daisies and more. They grow in abundance, the product of the family’s love of gardening and eating healthy foods. On Saturdays and Sunday, the two Lewis daughters, Katie, 11, and Sabrina, 3, maintained a stand where they sold what the family could not use themselves. “We eat a lot of it,” Katie said, acknowledging that she likes eggplant and zucchini and other vegetables many kids her age won’t touch. “I didn’t want it to go to waste,” she said. Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Safety Zone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 School News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Senior Moments . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Sharing History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

A BUSINESS LESSON That was when Katie asked her father Michael for permission to put out a

See Produce, page 19

André Gensburger/Clayton Pioneer

SABRINA AND KATIE LEWIS had to close their vegetable stand after an anonymous complaint to city hall. Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Theatre Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Upcoming Events . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Where Are They Now? . . . . . . . .21

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Clayton Pioneer •

August 22, 2008

Around Town Congressman hears from constituents in Town Hall meeting

Tamara Steiner/Clayton Pioneer

REP. GEORGE MILLER (DEM.) addressed a full house at a Town Hall Meeting, Aug. 13. In the hour-long meeting, Miller addressed constituents on a variety of issues including health care and the environment.

It was a standing-room-only turnout for Rep. George Miller’s (Dem.) Town Hall Meeting at Endeavor Hall last week. Constituents from Clayton and other areas in the 7th district came with questions, opinions and a few soapboxes. The outspoken Miller fielded questions about the sub-prime mortgage crisis (“nearly criminal…it became a casino out there”); President Bush (“worthy of impeachment”), the war, the economy, healthcare and climate change (“we’ve lost almost a decade in dealing with that problem.” ) It was clear that constituents were frustrated and fed up with the war in Iraq (“a tragedy for this country”), a tanking economy, the country’s continued dependence on foreign oil and Washington’s inaction on the environment.

“There is no question that there are serious differences in this country,” Miller said as a few in the audience were determined to keep him on the defensive. “This isn’t kumbaya.” The 63-year-old congressman

was first elected to the House in 1974. He is chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Democratic Policy Committee and sits on the House Natural Resources Committee.

Cooks celebrate 15th wedding anniversary Richard and Marybeth Cook celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary on August 14. They enjoyed a romantic and quiet dinner on the evening of their anniversary here in Clayton and will celebrated that weekend with a family hike and dinner out with parents John and Ida Cook, also of Clayton. Marybeth and Richard met at work in Concord on Dec. 17, 1990. He was filling out an application for work and once he got the job Marybeth was first to congratulate him and insist that he attend the company Christmas party. Marybeth was engaged at the time but called off her wedding four months after meeting Richard. “Thank goodness I picked the right guy!” Marybeth says. They have four children, “the Cook triplets” as they are known all over town, John, Sarah and Colin, 8 years old, and their brother Thomas “Indiana Jones” Cook, who will be 7 in December.

Classic cars on display during ‘Hot Summer Nights’

Tamara Steiner/Clayton Pioneer

CLAYTONIAN BILL BELLER in his classic ‘68 Mustang Fastback.





$950,000 Clayton Morgan Territory – 4BD/2BA w/2,262 s.f. on a wooded 5-acre lot backs to Mt. Diablo. Gourmet kitchen w/granite, slate floors, wet bar w/wine storage & builtin appliances. Large windows take advantage of expansive valley views! 2-stall horse barn, 2 garages-one w/400 s.f. workshop.

$399,000 Clayton Chaparral Springs Townhome – Lovely 2BD/2BA is freshly painted & has living/formal dining combo plus breakfast nook. Private backyard wraps around from deck down to patio area. Rare single-story end unit w/plenty of guest parking. Great walking, close to Clayton amenities and just down the block from the community pool!

Clayton goes car crazy on Wednesday nights in the summer as classic cars gather downtown for the weekly car show. They come from far and wide and park under the eucalyptus trees in the Clayton Community Church parking lot. On the corner across the street at Skipolini’s, a rock and roll combo offered up both the old and the new. Just up the street, the Clayton Museum stays open until 8 p.m. with a display of old car memorabilia featured inside. The display includes pictures of old cars in Clayton, car parts, manuals, signs, premiums and maps Pictured, Clayton resident Bill Beller, sits in his ’68 Mustang Fastback and remembers, “When I was 16, my dad drove me to school in one of these.” The museum will stay open until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays through August 27. Regular hours are Wednesdays and Sundays from 2-4 p.m. For more information, visit




Clayton $729,980 Dana Hills – Updates galore in this 2,141 s.f. 4BD/2.5BA home w/stylish backyard pool & spa & plenty of patio to entertain. Stained glass, crown molding & a fabulous wet bar & gas fireplace add accents to the home that are unmatched! A must see! Mt. Diablo & greenbelt views are fantastic. 400 s.f. shop in back.

We want to know what’s happening in your families and in your neighborhoods. Send your news and photos of your births, engagements weddings, special recognitions, etc. to Please attach your photos to the email as JPEG files and include a caption to identify people in your photos.



Concord $510,000 Garaventa Oaks – Updated to delight w/a great location and price! 4BD/2BA w/open, bright living spaces, hardwood floors, new carpet & dual pane windows that bathe freshly painted rooms in light. Kitchen has great flow, a garden window, Oak cabinets and stainless appliances. Walk to nearby parks & shopping.




$489,000 Concord Pine Hollow – You will adore this 3BD/2BA w/granite touches throughout including kitchen, baths & fireplace. Vaulted ceilings & Cherry laminate floors bring elegance. Wonderful front lawn & backyard w/ patio area for entertaining. Tennis, playground, parks & K-12 schools nearby.

Clayton $1,398,000 Morgan Territory – Incredible 5BD/5BA custom estate w/4.75 acres & Mt. Diablo views that are unmatchable! 2 flat areas for pool/tennis/barn site. 4,605 s.f. with fantastic gourmet kitchen, family, game & bonus rooms. Boasts 4 fireplaces & a master suite w/Jacuzzi tub appointed to maximize the scenery.

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What’s happening Around Town?






Brentwood $1,299,000 Ranch Property – Traditional 4BD/2.5BA home on nearly 7 acres of land. 2 barns w/tack rooms & electrical, greenhouse & wonderful wrap-around porch to take in the pastoral views & listen to the gurgling pond & fountain. Engineered septic, great well w/5K gal. tank. Gourmet kitchen & formal dining w/travertine tile.


$799,000 Regency Meadows – Mediterranean-style 4BD/2.5BA updated to delight w/Chef’s dream kitchen! Entertain on the patio Carol van Vaerenbergh or by Hawkins pool & spa and enjoy the (925) 672-1772 beautiful view.

August 22, 2008

Clayton Pioneer •

Around Town Big turnout for Dogs4Diabetics walk

Concerts in The Grove 2008

Page 3

Stop by before the Concerts for

Park-friendly food prepared to go Nachos Smoothies

Linguica Sandwiches Full Espresso Bar

Sponsored by the city of Clayton and the Clayton Business & Community Association

Gelato Hot Dogs

6054 Main Street, Clayton, 672-5105

Saturdays 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Free admission.

Gazebo at The Grove Park. Downtown Clayton.


6096 Main Street, Clayton, 673-0440 All entertainment from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

August 23 PIONEER

In Disguise: Light Jazz

CONCORDIAN PUBLISHERS AND STAFF TOOK A BREAK FROM DOGS4DIABETICS WALK. Pictured on the Keller House bridge are Beth Neudell, Pete Cruz, Tiffany, Addison and André Gensburger, Tamara and Bob Steiner and Linda Manzeck. AND


The dog days of summer took on a whole new meaning last Saturday when the first Dogs4Diabetics fundraising walk drew 75 walkers and runners who hoofed it over one of three routes in, across and around Clayton. Supporters of the organization gathered at the Gazebo at 8 a.m. and set off on a two, four or six mile walk. The walk raised about $25,000 including a $10,000 donation from the Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation “I saw the article in The Concordian and it really got my interest,” said Jill Ryan, daughter of Margaret Lesher and member of the foundation’s board. “It’s great what they do.” “The response is fantastic,”

Aug. 22, 23 . . . . . . . .Bollinger Station Aug. 29, 30 . . . . . . . . . . .Bijoux West Karaoke Every Wednesday Night

and Show Tunes

said business manager Ralph Hendrix. “We met our fundraising goal.” The Clayton Pioneer and The Concordian were also sponsors of the event. “We love dogs and hate diabetes,” said publisher Tamara Steiner. “It was a natural fit.” Dogs4Diabetics trains service dogs to detect low blood sugar in its owner and to alert the diabetic or, if the diabetic is unresponsive, find the closest help. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is dangerous for diabetics and can be fatal.

Sept. 6

Diamond Dave

La Veranda Café

Hosley: Variety, Keyboard

Sept. 13

(925) 524-0011  6201 Center St. Clayton

Mediterranean Night

Jambalaya Swing

Monday, Sept. 15, 6:30 p.m. Lebanese Cuisine  Belly Dancing

Band: Big Band and Swing

Sept. 20

For more information about Dogs4Diabetes, contact business manager Ralph Hendrix at 672-8621 or visit the Website:

Wine Makers Dinner,

East Bay Mudd:

Monday, Aug. 25, 6 p.m.

Concert Nights

R & B, Soul, Funk

Saturday Happy Hours

4:30 - 6:30 p.m. For more information go to


To-Go menu for your concert picnic

$5 well drinks $5 appetizers

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NCUA–Your savings federally insured to at least $100,000 and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. Must meet qualifications for opening a TCU checking account. Minimum deposit to open a checking account is $50. See account disclosure for complete details. Identity Theft Assistance is offered as a service through the Affinion Group to assist victims of Identity Theft with the complicated and often confusing steps that must be taken to restore their credit history. This is not a Travis Credit Union product and we accept no responsibility for this service. For more information, please contact the Affinion Group, 100 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06850-3561. Phone 800-251-2148, Everyone who lives, works, worships or goes to school in Contra Costa County is eligible to join. Certain membership requirements may apply.

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Page 4

Clayton Pioneer •

Around Town

August 22, 2008

Upcoming Events

Clayton actresses take on Follies After performing since she was 8 years old, Marcella Newton of Clayton has taken on a more grown-up role – that of a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl in the Diablo Light Opera Company’s production of “The Will Rogers Follies.” She’ll be joined by Clayton resident Kristina Schoell, 12,

Covalt family welcomes new grandchild Rocco and Rebecca Covalt of Clayton are excited to announce the birth of their granddaughter, Taylor Michelle. Taylor was born in San Diego to Rex and Michelle Sheridan on July 26. She tipped the scales at 8 lbs. 14 oz, and is 20 ½ inches tall. Taylor is also welcomed by her big sister, Emily, 3, and big brother Jacob, 16 months.


who will be one of the children of Will Rogers, the legendary American folk hero who claimed “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Newton, a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, previously performed with DLOC in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” in 2006. “I like performing,” says Newton, “because there is something so fulfilling about

LABOR DAY DERBY AND CAR SHOW The Fifth Annual Great Labor Day Derby and Antique Car Show is Sat., Aug 30. Kids from 7-14 race free in one of the official soapbox derby cars or a homemade custom car. More than 250 kids are expected to try their hand at driving on a course that stretches along Main Street. For more Derby information, call Peggy Bidondo, 672-9708. Show your antique or classic car in the car show or just come to admire the spectacular entries. Register from 8-10 a.m. For more car show information, call Don Holmes, 6898759.



being able to communicate a story through becoming a completely different character than you are in real life, through dance and through song.” Her dance training will serve her well as she parades as a Follies showgirl, sequins and all, in a role that requires 15 costume changes. Though only 12, Schoell is also a show business veteran. “When Kristina was 3 years old, her preschool teachers at Wee Three Bears Preschool here in Clayton told me that I had a little actress on my hands,” recalls her mother, Susan. “This was baffling to

my husband and me because the stage is the last place we would ever want to be. How could two introverts produce such an extrovert?” Kristina began formal vocal training at age 8 and had her first real role at age 9 as Princess Jasmine in the musical “Aladdin” at Mt. Diablo Elementary School. It was a pivotal point in her life, having decided that she was headed for Broadway. Since then, Kristina has performed in a number of shows, including some with her sister Melissa. Kristina’s first community theater role was with Contra Costa Christian Theatre’s “Christmas at the Biltmore” last December. Last spring, she appeared in the Pleasanton Playhouse production of “The Music Man.”

“The Will Rogers Follies,” the winner of six Tony awards, opens Aug. 29 for 18 performances through Sept. 27 at the Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. For ticket information, call 943-7469 or visit

GREEK FESTIVAL Opa! to the 30th annual Greek Food and Wine Festival set for Sept. 12, 13 and 14 at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church on Kirker Pass Road in Concord. Come, be Greek for a day with food, wine, live music and dancing. Enjoy the large kids’ area, Courtyard Café and authentic Greek food, wine and pastries by the Yiayias. Festival

hours are Fri. from 5 to 11 p.m., Sat. noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday noon to 8 p.m. Admission is $5; children under 12 are free and seniors 55 and over are $3. There is ample free parking. St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church (across from Sleep Train Pavilion) is located at 1955 Kirker Pass Rd ., Concord. For information on the festival call (925) 676-6967.

Cup O’ Jo, from page 1 linoleum, another hand sink and some repairs to the ceiling tiles to be in compliance with county health codes. The inspector also suggested that they add a prep sink so they could reopen as a restaurant. With the improvements, the Barbosas will be able to add soups, sandwiches and a few cookies and scones baked onsite to a fare that was previously limited mainly to coffee, gelato and a few purchased baked goods. “Now we can use fresh fruit from the Farmers Market to

make smoothies,” said FerreiraBarbosa. “And concert nights, we’ll have linguica sandwiches, hot dogs and nachos to take out,” she added. “I’m so excited about concert nights. My mom can help cut onions.” The cozy coffee shop is the only source of income for the family and the permitting process alone set them back nearly $4,000. “I can’t believe how we made it with no income and all that money going out,” she said from her Morgan

Territory Road home. “Everyone was so supportive and we got so much help.” Neighbors brought groceries and dinners, and customers and locals chipped in with money to help with the permits. The contractor working on the Mitchell Creek subdivision around the corner offered valuable help in guiding them through the permit process. “I’m blown away,” she said. “Where do these people come from? We feel so blessed.”

Cup O Jo is at 6054 Main St. For more information on new menu choices and hours, call 6725105.

Free Family Fun Clayton Community Church presents the Fifth Annual

In association with Insurance Management Corp.

Sat., Aug. 30, 2008 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event is intended as an opportunity for family fun. Kids age 7-14 can register. There is NO fee to participate. Register by August 24th to get a free t-shirt and run in two races.

! e e r F e c Kids Raprovided!car, Cars atorebuild your ownrera.ce

tu sh If you wi tact Doug LaVen racers. 0 con to 1st 25 d e it m li ry Ent

For event info contact: Doug LaVenture (925) 673-5337,

The Clayton Farmers Market will temporarily relocate to the Endeavor Hall parking lot on Derby Day.

For registration info contact: Peggy Bidondo (925) 672-9708,

Registration form available online at

August 22, 2008

Clayton Pioneer •

Enter the Oktoberfest t-shirt design contest P.O. Box 1246 6200 Center Street, Suite H, Clayton, CA 94517 TAMARA AND R OBERT S TEINER , Publishers TAMARA S TEINER , Editor A NDRÉ G ENSBURGER , Reporter and Feature Writer J EANNA R OSS , Reporter and Feature Writer P ETE C RUZ , Graphic Design B EV B RITTON , Copy Editor R ANDY R OWLAND , Sports Writer B ETH N EUDELL , Administrative Assistant Jill Bedecarré, Her spirit is our muse

PIONEER INFO CONTACT US Tel: (925) 672-0500 Fax: (925) 672-6580 Tamara Steiner André Gensburger Beth Neudell Send ads to Send Sports News to Send Club News to Send Church News to

Send School News to

CLASSIFIEDS Classified rates per insertion: Non-profit: $12 for first 30 words, $.20 each additional word Individual/non-commercial: $18 for first 30 words, $.30 each additional word Commercial: $48 for first 30 words, $.40 each additional word To place your classified ad over the phone, call the office at (925) 6720500 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. Or, you may fax your typewritten ad and credit card information to (925) 672-6580 All classifieds must be paid for in advance by credit card (Master Card or Visa)

We will not accept any ad that discriminates on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, nationality, family status or disability. The Clayton Pioneer reserves the right to reject any advertising we believe is unsuitable.

Ever look at a t-shirt and think “I could design something better than that?” Well, here’s your chance to make t-shirt history. The CBCA wants your t-shirt design for this year’s Oktoberfest. The annual event celebrates music, polka, fine food, wine and above all—beer. This year’s Oktoberfest is Sept. 27 and 28. The winning design will appear on the front of the souvenir tshirts sold to the public. Kids or adults can participate. You may use up to five colors in your design. Submit your design on 8 ½” x 11” paper to the CBCA office, 6200 Center Street, Suite 210, upstairs in the Village Oaks building. Deadline for entries is August 30. For more information call the CBCA office at 672-2272 or email with questions.


LET US KNOW Weddings, engagements, anniversaries, births and deaths all weave together as part of the fabric of our community. Please let us know of these important events. We ask only that the announcement be for a Clayton resident. You will find the appropriate form for your announcement on our Website. Attach your photo to the form. Make sure the image size you are about to send is at least 3 MB but not bigger than 6MB. The only format we accept is JPG. You can also mail or bring your print to the office and we can scan it for you. Also on our Web site are forms for submitting Community Calendar items and press releases for your organization.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The Clayton Pioneer welcomes letters from our readers. As a general rule, letters should be less than one double spaced page and submitted at least one week prior to publication date. Letters concerning current issues will have priority. We may edit letters for length and clarity. All letters will be published at the editor’s discretion. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number. We will not print letters from “anonymous.” E-mail your letter in a Word Document to Letters MUST be submitted via E-mail.

SERVICES Childcare/Preschool Enroll now for fall in the Clayton Community School preschool. Monday - Friday 7 a. m. – 6 p.m. Located on Mt Diablo Elementary Campus. Call (925) 672-0388, Nancy Haley, Director. Tutor/Educational Coach Experienced classroom teacher. Tutoring for grades 2-5 all subjects. Study skills/ Homework help. Professional, mature, and kind. Will come to your home or the local library. Please call Janet, 925-672-4360. Pet Sitting Traveling on business or pleasure? Do your pets or house need to be checked on? Daily visits available. Many services included. Call Linda at 672-9781 for details. Licensed insured & bonded.

HELP WANTED Real Estate Agents Be Successful! Lynne French is expanding and interviewing for a few agents. Call her today (925) 672-8787. Tai-Chi Teacher Seeking teacher to practice Tai-Chi or Qigong in Downtown Park – one morning a week to start. If you are interested in sharing this experience and can lead the practice, please call Stephanie 925-932-7329 or email

All types of mechanical repairs and computer diagnostics including 30K, 60K, 90K factory maintenance on all European, Imported and domestic vehicles. Official uttle

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FLUSHES $10 off coupon valid for most cars exp. 9/11/08


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OIL CHANGE Includes free 30 point inspection

$29.95 (regularly $34.95) coupon valid for most cars

exp. 9/11/08

Sports Writer Needed To help cover the local sports scene for the Clayton Pioneer and The Concordian. Interview subjects, write features and suggest story ideas. Must be computer literate and competent with a camera. The Pioneer is published twice a month and the Concordian once a month and requires a time commitment of about 8-12 hours per issue. Compensation depends on experience. Call Tamara 672-0500 or email interest and resume to

LOST AND FOUND Found Cat Young tabby with grey, black and white coloring. Chest and belly are white along with some white on her face. All four of her paws are white as well. She has a small black speck on her left nostril. Her eyes are light green-yellow and her tail is raccoonstriped. Please email Sue Fania Found Keys - set of keys found on trail near Samuel Court. Please call (925) 673-3853

VOLUNTEERS WANTED Meals on Wheels Drivers 1 – 1 1/2 per week. Drivers and relief drivers needed for delivery of Meals on Wheels in East County. People are on the waiting list due to lack of drivers. A small amount of your time can make a big difference in someone’s life. If you can help please call Jim at 673-0300 or e-mail Anna’s Attic Volunteers Volunteers needed at the Hospice of the East Bay thrift store. The address of the store is 5350 Clayton Road. Call store manager, Debbie, at 674-9072 or Lamont Campbell at (925) 766-5066. Hospice of the East Bay Anna's Program, (formerly Hospice and Palliative Care of Contra Costa), is seeking dedicated, caring volunteers to provide home companionship and practical support for women with recurrent breast cancer. Women served reside in Central or East Contra Costa. To apply for free training, call Hospice of the East Bay at (925) 887-5678 and ask for the Volunteer Department, or email Anna's Program is generously supported by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Anna's Attic Thrift Shop, and other community donations. Clayton Historical Society Museum The Clayton Historical Society Museum needs a greeter for two hours per month from 2-4 p.m. Wednesdays or Sundays. No experience or extensive knowledge of Clayton history is necessary. All you need is a cheerful smile and a "hello" as our guests come through the door. You'll meet interesting people and learn a lot about our historic town. Call the museum at 672-0240 and leave your name. Clayton Community Library. We are seeking to fill the following volunteer positions: (All positions require a minimum age of 13 years and a 6 month commitment.) Lead Tutor - to help facilitate the request for tutors in our volunteer tutoring program. You will match the students needs with a corresponding tutor. Required good communication skills and a desire to help students in the community. Telephone and email work can mainly be done from home. Graphic Displays and Events Photographer - can be done by one or two people.Take photos at our many library events and put the photos on display in the library before it is eventually placed in our library scrapbook. Choice photos of library events can be used for submitting to newspapers. Contact: Arlene @ 673-9777 or email:

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Directory of Advertisers Auto Clayton Valley Shell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-3900 Diablo Automotive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .288-0981 Mike's Auto Body . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-1739 Construction and Trades Belfast Plumbing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .457-5423 Burkin Electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-1519 Butch’s Painting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(707) 718-5778 FS Construction/AFU Concrete . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-4546 Insite Design and Build . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .980-0465 Ken Mitolo Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2460 Majestic Pools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .676-1545 Mt.Diablo Window Cleaning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .676-1545 Michael Dwyer & Sons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-3980 Pavers by Howard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .766-2574 S&K Nellis Painting, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .687-2233 Schaefer’s Painting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .260-6065 Smith & Bernal Roofing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-0138 Straight Line Imports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .335-9801 Tipperary Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216-2679 Tip Top Kitchen and Bath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .497-5699 Dining and Entertainment AJ’s Sports Pub & Grill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .459-0574 Clayton Club Saloon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .673-0440 Cinco de Mayo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .524-0517 La Veranda Restaurant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .524-0011 Financial and Insurance Services Benton, Mureleen - Ameriprise Financial . . . . . .685-4523 Carol Keane and Associates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .937-5200 CD Federal Credit Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .825-0900 College Planning Specialists, CFS Inc. . . . .888-210-2606 Doug Van Wyck - State Farm Insurance . . . . . . .672-2300 Richard Littorno - Attorney at Law . . . . . . . . . . . .672-6463 Travis Credit Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .800-877-8328 We the People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .246-0370 Funerals Neptune Society of Northern California . . . . . . . .944-5100 Ouimet Funeral Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .682-4242 Home and Garden A and J Fencing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .370-0747 Abbey Carpet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .686-9901 Appliance Repairs by Bruce, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2700 Clear Splash Pool Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216-6245 Design Dynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-4968 Floors to Go Danville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .820-8700 Lamorinda Floors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .284-4440 Navlet’s Garden Centers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .681-0550 Nichols Landscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9955 Pans on Fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .600-7267 Sparkle Pools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .260-5025 The Maids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .798-6243 Today Hauling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .497-4907 Utopic Gardens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .524-0055 Mailing and Shipping The UPS Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-6245 Medical Services Children's Dentistry of Walnut Creek . . . . . . . . . .938-2392 Personal Products and Services Beautique . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-0405 Clayton Mind and Body Connections . . . . . . . . . .673-0686 Isagenix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .570-5187 Rosebud . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1-888-476-7328 Pet Services Aussie Pet Mobile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .800-738-6624 Cat Hospital of Clayton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2287 Monte Vista Veterinary Hospital . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-1100 Real Estate and Mortgage Services Classic Real Estate and Mortgage Services . . . .932-3157 Flannery, Patty - Diablo Realty . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-0541 French, Lynne - Windermere Real Estate . . . . . .672-8787 Laurence, Pete - RE/MAX Realty . . . . . . . . . . . .937-0150 Lopez, Stephanie - Coldwell Banker . . . . . . . . . .932-7329 Morucci, Kim - Intero Real Estate Services . . . . .280-8563 Rahimzadeh, Helen - Coldwell Banker . . . . . . . .932-7375 Vujnovich, George - Better Homes Realty . . . . .672-4433 Recreation Clayton Community Church Car Show . . . . . . . .689-8759 Clayton Valley Bowl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-4631 Clayton Community Great Labor Day Derby . . . .673-5337 Diablo Light Opera . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .943-7469 Leap of Faith Farms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .938-9550 Mavericks Sports Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .602-5600 Music Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .946-2990 Oakhurst Country Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .673-9737 YMCA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .889-1600 Senior Services Aegis of Concord . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .692-5838 Diamond Terrace Senior Retirement Living . . . . .524-5100 Services, Other Allied Waste Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .685-4711 Concord Disposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .943-0180 Roberta Claire Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .625-1123 Sho Sho’s Daycare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .207-1479 Shopping Cegielski Jewelers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .682-2855 Clayton Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .673-3325 Computers USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9989 Donna's Quilting Loft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-0401 Pacific Coast Farmers Market . . . . . . . . . .800-949-FARM Seasonal Reflections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-4425 Sonset Flowers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .685-8200 Sorelle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-3500 The Royal Rooster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2025 Travel Cruise Adventures Unlimited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .935-7447 Travel to Go . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9840

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Clayton Pioneer •

Large, custom updated 5 bedroom! This 2,844 square foot 2-story home has new carpets, pergo and paint, a granite kitchen w/custom cherry cabinets and new microwave, a step-down huge family room with vaulted beam ceiling, wet-bar, fireplace and 2 sliders to yard & patios! 4 bedrooms plus a 5th or Den, 3 full baths, indoor laundry room, mirrored closets, two balconies and a tile roof! Secluded court setting in nearby Concord, parklike yards, a view of Mt. Diablo.







9 60



Just call PETE LAURENCE to see this property and others. KNOWLEDGE


Annual report details TLC’s commitment to the community CANDACE BASS Special to the Pioneer

Now is the time to buy. INTEGRITY


Pete Laurence,

Broker, Realtor, GRI 2950 Buskirk Avenue, Ste. 140, Walnut Creek Direct 940-2777  Cell 890-6004  Fax 937-0150

Join us for a special presentation

Tuesday, August 26 2:30 pm

Disaster Preparedness Psychology CERT Instructor, Wendy Schackwitz To reserve a seat, please call (925)524-5100

One of the Trails and Landscaping Committee’s key tasks this year was to produce its first annual report. A seven-page report containing colorful photographs of the city’s landscaping was submitted to the City Council for approval at the July 1 meeting. Following committee member Bill Vineyard’s presentation, it received unanimous approval from the council. The report summarizes the committee and district accomplishments for the 2007-’08 fiscal year. It pays tribute to members of the community who gave time and/or resources to the Landscape District during the past year. The annual report itself is evidence of what can be accomplished when members reach outside their organization to others in the community. In this case, TLC members Candace Bass, David Disend and Vineyard collaborated with former TLC member Linda Pinder. Pinder’s allegiance to the TLC and its projects stems from a combination of factors:

(925) 524-5100 6401 Center Street Clayton CA 94517 DAVID GODSOE

Attention parents of college bound high school students! College Planning Specialists, CFS Inc., the Bay Area’s leading and most trusted college funding organization, will be at the Clayton Community Library to help the parents of college bound students not stress-out by the nightmare of college costs.

At this Amazing Workshop, Sean & Alexis will show you… 

The single biggest mistake 9 out of 10 parents make when planning for college

4 things you must know before your child starts applying to colleges

How MILLIONAIRES can save $30,000 off college costs!

The 5 little known secrets to pay for college even if you don’t qualify for financial aid

Next workshop dates 

Tues. Aug. 26, 7:15 p.m. Danville Library

Wed. Aug. 27, 7:15 p.m. Walnut Creek Library

Thurs. Aug. 28, 7:15 p.m. Clayton Community Library RSVP Today at 888-210-2606

Sean Connors  Alexis Alekna (925) 627-3570

“a strong civic duty,” attachment to Clayton’s public landscape and daily walks along the trails and sidewalks. This devotion is apparent in the photographs that she takes and shares with the committee for special projects. Pinder took most of the photographs which appear in the annual report. Residents can obtain a copy of the report and/or copies of attachments by going to Under City Council, click on Agendas, July 1. Go to 7, Trails and Landscaping Committee Annual Report. Attachments that follow the seven-page report may be downloaded. These include the 2008-2009 budget, a TLC monthly Pioneer article, the TLC brochure, a copy of the Adopt a Trail Business Survey and the proposed Adopt a Trail program. A copy of the public landscape district map delineates open spaces, the public roadway landscape and Clayton’s beautiful trails system. All items but the budget and map were generated by TLC volunteers. The TLC is open to ideas from individuals and groups who are interested in donating

their time or resources toward projects which might benefit the public landscape district. SUMMER MAINTENANCE UPDATE

During the hot summer months, the city experiences more irrigation problems than at other times during the year. Residents can help mitigate water waste associated with broken sprinkler heads by responding promptly. If a resident sees a sprinkler running during the day for more than one hour, they are asked to call the city at 673-7300. Residents are also encouraged to report any type of sprinkler malfunction at Click Feedback and drop down to the Comment box and describe the sprinkler location, using street names and landmarks if appropriate. Free reminder cards with instructions are available at the TLC display table in the Clayton Library lobby. Candace Bass is chair of the TLC. The committee is adjourned until Sept. 15. Residents may submit questions via email to

Getting the scoop on skin care ingredients

Call today for a personal tour & complimentary lunch

Retirement Community

August 22, 2008

ALL ABOUT YOU We’re always hearing how good certain ingredients in skin care products are. Today, I’ll examine a few common ingredients and a couple that are not as common. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs): These are the glycolic, lactic, tartaric and citric acids found in many over-the-counter products. I’m sure that a lot of you have heard of glycolic acid, especially as a chemical peel. At lower concentrations found in creams and lotions, it can help with fine lines, irregular pigmentation and age spots. Be aware that AHAs can cause mild skin irritation and an increased sensitivity to sunlight. Start with a low concentration and wear a good sunscreen. Beta-hydroxy acid or salicylic acid: This acid provides similar results as the AHAs but is less irritating. Also, it has the ability to penetrate oil-laden hair fol-

licle openings – making it helpful in the treatment of acne. Because it is derived from salycyclates (which are found in aspirin), anyone with allergies to aspirin should not use these products. Pregnant women should consult their doctor before using them. Hydroquinone: Products that contain this are usually bleaching creams or lightening agents. They can lighten skin pigmentation problems such as age spots or dark spots that can occur during pregnancy or hormone therapy. Doctors can prescribe a solution that has higher concentrations then are available over-the-counter. Kojic acid: This treats the same problems as hydroquinone. Retinol: A derivative of vitamin A, Retinol has results similar to Retin-A and Renova – which are available by prescription only. Retinol is available in over-thecounter creams and lotions. It may improve pigmentation problems, fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture, skin tone and color and also helps rehydrate the skin. Vitamin C: This antioxidant has been proven to stimulate the production of collagen, which the body needs as we age because

natural production slows down. Be choosy when selecting a Vitamin C product. It may be best to consult a dermatologist. All Vitamin C products are not the same. Some do not penetrate far enough to be effective. Hyaluronic acid: Vitamin C is often used in products containing this acid to assist in effective penetration. Hyaluronic acid is produced in our bodies and is used to treat wrinkles. Alpha lipoic acid: Called “the miracle in a jar” because of its anti-aging effects, this newer, more potent antioxidant fights future skin damage and helps repair past damage. It can provide the greatest protection from free radicals. It diminishes fine lines and gives the skin a healthy glow. In addition, it can boost the levels of other antioxidants like Vitamin C. These are just a few of the ingredients found in skin care products. There a number of Websites that can help. Try

David Godsoe is a licensed esthetician. For questions or comments, call him at 673-0686.

August 22, 2008

Clayton Pioneer • www.claytonpioneer .com

Page 7

Recalling the easy-going days of first Clayton cops man had stolen a pickup and was likely stripping it at his home. “I drove by the house and there was a correct colored pickup in the garage that the man was busy stripping,” Ruddick said. “I called back and the NATB investigator along with the county auto theft task force arrived with a search warrant. We checked the pickup, which was now nearly completely stripped, and all of the identification numbers for the pickup had been removed.


A photograph from the early days of the Clayton Police Department hangs on the wall, serving as a reminder of a simpler time and a smaller department. Lewis Ruddick was the first chief of police for Clayton, back in 1971. With two officers, Gary Kovolchik and Bill Lorimor, the three-man department took over services formerly provided by Concord under a contract with the city. “I was formerly a police sergeant with the city of Milpitas,” said the now-retired Ruddick. “When we started, there was a high level of support from the parents and their children living in the community.” Present Chief Dan Lawrence remembers those days from a different vantage point; Lawrence was a junior at Clayton Valley. “It was a sleepy town of 2,500 to 3,000 people,” he said. “I got into police work in 1971 and then became a deputy sheriff for the county. Those were good times.” Lawrence compared the town with today – with a population of approximately 11,000 Clayton residents and a higher demand for services which the

More pavement work on Marsh Creek Rd. Photo courtesy of Clayton Police Dept.

TAMARA STEINER Clayton Pioneer

Photo taken May 1972, Chief Lewis Ruddick, Officer Gary Kovolchik and Officer Bill Lorimor.

department has had to match. “We have faster cars equipped with computers, LED displays,” he said. “It’s all a lot more sophisticated. We have 11 police officers compared with Chief Ruddick and his two officers.” “The community has changed,” Ruddick said. “With that growth comes the need to be more responsive to the

changes that comes with that growth.” Ruddick, who now lives in Turlock, visited Clayton a few years ago. “It’s changed so much since I was there,” he said. “There was always very little crime in Clayton,” he reported, “only an occasional fight at the Clayton Club and an infrequent residential burglary.” Looking at the photograph,

Lawrence noted that the radio was “the size of a lunch pail.” Today’s department uses smaller, more compact electronics. Ruddick recalled one instance when, after being contacted by the National Auto Theft Bureau, he learned that a well-known auto thief had purchased a Clayton home. Shortly thereafter, he received another call from the NATB that the

Eight candidates vie for three council seats All eight candidates who picked up nomination papers for November’s City Council election have returned completed applications, reports City

“The thief was feeling pretty good until I glanced down into the bottom of one of the doors which were stacked along the side of the garage and saw a gasoline purchase receipt in the bottom of the door frame,” Ruddick added. “I pulled it out and it had the complete information of the victim and the license number of the vehicle. His cocky grin disappeared as he was arrested for auto theft and possession of stolen property on the spot. Not long after that, his house went up for sale.”

Manager Gary Napper. The three seats filled by Julie Pierce, Gregg Manning and Bill Walcutt will be up for grabs. Running for the three seats

will be the incumbent Pierce, Jim Diaz, Howard Geller, Keith Haydon, Allen Lampo, Joe Medrano, Dan Richardson and Harun Simbirdi. Manning and

Walcutt are retiring at the end of their terms. Watch for candidate profiles in the Sept. 12 issue of The Pioneer.

Just as the city completes the repaving of arterial streets within the city limits, the county is at work on road repairs to Marsh Creek and Morgan Territory Roads. Major work began last week will continue through the end of the month and will cause delays up to 45 minutes, says Joe Yee, assistant public works director for Contra Costa County. The Marsh Creek work will start at the Brentwood end and is expected to be in Clayton by Aug. 22. Morgan Territory repairs will be between Marsh Creek Road and the Alameda county line. They will begin around Aug 26 and finish up before the Labor Day weekend begins. The repairs involve applying an emulsion to the asphalt to

soften it, then rolling rock chips over the surface to fill cracks. Then the loose rock is swept up. The speed limit through the work areas will be reduced to 25 mph and “loose gravel” signs will be posted. “It’s very important to observe the speed limit signs for safety,” says Yee. “We contract with the CHP for traffic control. They will be out there watching for speeders.” The work will all take place during the day between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Some of the sweeping may be done on Saturday mornings. “We are aware that this is a major route as well as a bicycle route,” Yee says, “and we’re working to minimize inconvenience.”

For more information, call Joe Yee (925) 260-7002 or Pat Giles (925) 313-7044.

For all your Electrical Needs. All work done by owner.

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Page 8

Clayton Pioneer • Serving Contra Costa for 25 years

NICHOLS LANDSCAPE Boyce Nichols - Owner - Clayton resident




Call today for your FREE ESTIMATE Patios (Pavers & Concrete), Retaining Walls, Decks, Lawn Installation, Low Voltage Lighting, Dry River Beds, Drought Tolerant Landscaping, Irrigation (Spray & Drip)

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Home-made, Authentic & Fresh Mexican Food Special!

Order one Special plate & get the 2nd at Half Price (of equal or lesser value, no substitutions)

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We also do catering for all occasions.

ayton! l C n i n e Now op

August 22, 2008

Become a home pricing specialist The key to learning market value is to look at a lot of property. You can do some of this legwork on your own by visiting Sunday open houses or new home developments. Keep track of what you’ve seen. Then ask your agent or the listing agent to let you know when any house you’ve seen sells. You’ll want to know the selling price, how long it took to sell and how close the selling price was to the list or asking price. Ask a real estate agent to prepare a complimentary comparative market analysis of the property you’re interested in before you make an offer. This analysis should include information about properties that sold within the last six months. These properties should be similar in size, condition and amenities to the one you’re considering buying, and they should be located in the same neighborhood. The more recent the sale, the closer it’ll be to current market value. Even if you’re not using an agent for your home purchase, you might find one who’ll be willing to provide you with


REAL ESTATE comparable sales information, either for a fee or in exchange for your future business. Ask for a list of pending sales in the neighborhood. A house with a pending sale is one where a buyer has agreed to purchase but where title to the property has not yet transferred. You probably won’t be able to find out the selling price until the transaction closes because this information is confidential. But it’s realistic to assume that if the property sold quickly, it probably sold for close to the list price. Once a sale is complete and the title passes to the buyer, the sales information is a matter of public record.

Find out about other properties being offered for sale in the neighborhood. Compare the amenities and asking prices of these properties with those of the house of your choice. But keep in mind that selling prices, not listing prices, are the true indicators of current market value. Many buyers wonder if they should hire a licensed appraiser to complete an evaluation of a property before an offer is made. Most good real estate agents can provide you with all the relevant data you need to make an intelligent decision. However, if you have any doubts about the value of the property you’re making an offer on, include a provision in the purchase contract that states that your offer is contingent upon the property appraising for the offer price. This way you don’t pay for a professional appraisal until your offer is accepted by the seller. If the appraisal comes in low, you have a way out of the contract or you can renegotiate the price with the seller. When sufficient comparable

sales data aren’t available, some buyers take the seller’s original purchase price and add on for property improvements and home price appreciation that took place during the seller’s period of ownership. You can find out what was paid for a property by researching the county ownership records. This is a tedious and time-consuming process, but often a local real estate agent or title officer will help. A knowledgeable agent can also provide a rough estimate of annual home price appreciation. This method of determining property value is approximate at best, because it doesn’t take local market conditions into account. Depending on the market, houses may be selling for more or less than they would if the sale price was based solely on average home price appreciation.

ily in their home and a stop at the Yin Ding foot bridge built in silver ingot over a manmade lake so that the emperor and others could stand on the bridge and see the mountains (no longer possible with perpetual “haze” in the air). We dined at Nuage, a French Vietnamese restaurant that has garnered rave reviews in Frommers and other publications. Nearby is the Sanlitun nightlife district with garish lights, karaoke bars with barkers enticing customers inside, outdoor tables with hookah water pipes and large flat screen TVs showing the Games. The district begins near Nuage with decidedly local clientele to the busier section full of tourists, foreigners and young locals. There is no minimum drinking age in China.

children and others brought in to fill up the stands and expose the Games to more of the population? Our session tickets ranged from $7 (field hockey) to $114 (track and field). Buying diving tickets from a scalper was quite another deal, with two costing us $325 each. In four years those same diving tickets at the London Olympics might be a hot item for Claytonians with Kristian Ipsen a strong early contender for the US team. With all the talk about the commercialization of China the organizers seemed to place a very low priority on food and souvenir sales at the Games. Before a diving final we purchased two beers, two waters, two hot dogs and one bag of chips. Total cost: $6. After attending a sold-out swim final all souvenir stands closed before 17,000 people left the venue. All concession stands were designed and (under)staffed without any regard to making sales easy or convenient to attendees. The Chinese people have immense pride in showing off their country to the world. While Americans are known to be rabid in supporting their athletes, the Chinese are very enthusiastic for every Chinese athlete, more out of pride than passion. When we were at the men’s team gymnastic finals won by the Chinese, the loudest cheer was when their National Anthem was played for the gold medalists, rather than for any of the gymnastic routines which earned that medal.

Lynne French is the broker/owner of Windermere Lynne French & Associates and a Clayton resident. For any real estate needs or questions, contact her at 672-8787, or stop in at 6200 Center St. in Clayton.

Installations – Repairs Toilets  Faucets  Water heaters Garbage disposals  Clogged drains

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Clayton Resident

$50 off new water heaters with this ad* (925) 457-5423 *expires 9/11/08

Beijing, from page 1 extraordinary lunch. Our menu included red trout, sauteed shrimp with lichee, seaweed rolls with sturgeon and many more delicious dishes. The afternoon was capped by a stunning performance by Hanggai, a band performing Mongolian folk music with vocals that are indescribable in their range and tone.

License. 906211

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FORBIDDEN CITY Massive Tiananmen Square where students briefly and bravely protested in 1989 is across from Forbidden City, home to 24 emperors from 1420 to 1924, where 980 of the original wooden buildings and palaces still stand. A large portrait of Mao Zedong adorns the front of Forbidden City with a deep moat and wall surrounding the grounds. Mao pronounced the People’s Republic of China in 1949 as he led his Communist troops into the Square at the center of Beijing. Unlike at the Wall, the vast majority of the tourists in Forbidden City were Chinese. We rented a clever GPS monitored map and recording with an earpiece to take a self-paced tour of the grounds. HUTONGS OF OLD BEIJING Much has been made of the modernization of China, yet there are still remnants of another time and lifestyle in the hutongs of the city. Small communities with narrow roads were built spreading out from wells where generations of a family live in a courtyard style space. Designed and appointed following traditional rules of feng shui, these small communities are still in existence. We took a rickshaw ride through the Houhai hutong district including a visit with a fam-

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OLYMPIC GREEN The Olympic Green is home to the most famous Beijing sports venues: Bird’s Nest stadium and Water Cube aquatic center. Only ticketholders to one of the day’s events are allowed through the security station entering the Green. An x-ray machine is used for all carry-ons plus a front and back magnetic wand body check is done on each person and admission tickets are scanned twice. It seemed like many Olympic events were not sold out. In some cases stands were less than half full. With 1.3 billion people in the country and over 17 million living in Beijing we were surprised that tickets weren’t all sold. Lacking sales, why weren’t school

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Page 9

Longtime resident still has a song in her heart There is a charming song festive time for all involved. about Clayton that Elaine Evans Elaine, a local music teacher, would love to hear everyone and several other music teachers singing these days, but most of would sing and play piano at the us aren’t even aware that an offi- community hall for these parcial tune exists. ties, where people “Back in would gather 1976, we had a around to sing group called the familiar tunes. Clayton Crowd “The most that was organmemorable birthized for singing day musical event our city of occurred in 1976, Clayton song,” when Clayton Elaine shares. “It became an official would be lovely bicentennial city. to hear people We were the first COLLEEN ELWY singing it once city in the county SHARING HISTORY that was accepted again.” E l a i n e bicentennial from explains that on March 18, 1964, Washington, D.C.,” Elaine the community of Clayton, with recalls. “We were excited about approximately 3,000 people liv- our 12th birthday, but the nation ing here at that time, became was also celebrating its 200th incorporated as a city. It was birthday and we were thrilled to decided that everyone would be an official part of it all. And commemorate the city with an one of Clayton’s Bicentennial annual birthday party at Commission’s plans was the Endeavor Hall, and it became a hope that someone would write

a song about our Joel Clayton’s great wonderful town.” grandson, Charles With the help of a Calhan, learned the steering committee, song and joined in the people of Clayton with our revived came through with Clayton Crowd several entries. singing group. Caroline Smith, a Wouldn’t it be great Clayton music fun to have it back teacher, decided to again?” take on the challenge Besides her and composed the singing, Elaine, who is song “Clayton Town” in her late 70s, enjoys that was officially her time with her husadopted as our city band Chuck. He also song on March 22, has had quite a history ELAINE EVANS WITH HUSBAND CHUCK 1976. with Clayton, since “Caroline sang the song to ing for it again, so we sang it a they have lived here for more us and we were stunned. It was second time.” than 44 years. Chuck was mayor Over the years, Elaine has of Clayton from 1974 to 1976 simply beautiful,” Elaine says been involved with the group in and continues to represent proudly. The music teachers and singing “Clayton Town” for the Clayton through a citizen’s adviYgnacio Valley High School’s Historical Society’s Tea in 1977, sory committee with the Contra madrigal group presented the the Fourth of July parade each song in solid four-part harmony year and Clayton’s 25th anniversary celebration in 1999. at the bicentennial party. THE “But at the city’s 25th “After a respectful silence, the audience went wild,” Elaine says anniversary is the last time we with a laugh. “And they kept ask- have sung it,” she notes. “Even

Costa Transit Authority. They have been married for 50 years and have one son, one daughter and a granddaughter. Although Clayton outgrew the yearly birthday parties, Elaine says “Clayton Town” still fits with the people coming here today. “Throughout the years, others have been inspired to write a song about Clayton. However, after 32 years, ‘Clayton Town’ still proudly remains the official city song.” Perhaps Elaine’s passion will be a tune in all of our hearts sometime soon. If you are a senior living in Clayton, or know of a senior that would like to share their life story with the Clayton Pioneer readers, please contact Colleen Elwy at 672-9565 or at

In little Clayton town, tall mountain looking down, Little city with that lovely face, We know we’ve found our place.

“Clayton Town” Clayton, Clayton. Old town with a colorful past, My town, our town, with spirit built to last. Come home to Clayton town, tall mountain looking down, Little city with that lovely face, Friendly people, lots of open space.

You should see the little town at night, You see a glow and feel a kind of light, From loving folks we call the neighborhood. Living where the pioneers stood. We’re home in Clayton town, tall mountain looking down, Little city with that lovely face, We’ve found our place.

See the child up on the hill right there, He’s running like the wind, without a care. It’s a place that you can grow up strong, You feel you really belong …

By Caroline Smith

August 29


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Theatre Review

In these hands, Chekhov’s ‘Vanya’ is stunning JEANNA ROSS Clayton Pioneer

The 2008 California Shakespeare Theater season continues this month with a gorgeous production of Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya.” The Russian playwright has gained an unfortunate reputation in theater circles as being dreary, depressing and unreadable, thanks to countless misunderstood productions of his plays. However, in the hands of adapter Emily Mann and director Timothy Near, Chekhov’s true intent – that his plays were comedies and should be treated as such – is masterfully realized. “Uncle Vanya” is an exploration of themes familiar to its modern audience: love, lust, loneliness and longing. His characters interact in ways we understand, with their motivations following our own instincts even 109 years after its writing. The lovable ensemble of actors makes us laugh in one moment and then breaks our hearts in the next. As Uncle Vanya, Dan Hiatt discovers his greatest asset is his gelatinous physicality. His body slinks and swoops loosely about the stage, belying his

Photo by Kevin Berne



JAMES CARPENTER in “Uncle Vanya.”

intense inner turmoil until it is time to reveal himself in monologue. It is his struggle with which we most sympathize, as he uses his comedy to cover his despair. His female counterpart, CST newcomer Annie Purcell as Sonya, spends much of the play sobbing into her hands, unable to cope with the myriad emotions that threaten to overwhelm her – simultaneously providing many of the most tragically comic moments of the play. Purcell plays Sonya’s naiveté and goodness without falling into cliché or allowing

the cynical modern audience to disregard her struggles, as would happen in the hands of a lesser actress. CST veteran Andy Murray proves a catalyst for much of the drama as Mikhail Astrov, while also delivering many of the most political of speeches. Astrov’s words of concern for the environment and replenishing natural resources could be reprinted word for word in today’s campaign speeches. He provides a strong physical counterpoint to Hiatt’s comical Vanya as they compete for the same affections. While

we feel for Vanya, we would be just as happy if Astrov were to find happiness as well. The visual production is stunning. Erik Flatmo utilizes a raked stage to give height to the usually flat CST stage, which Near in turn uses to beautiful effect for a multitude of interesting entrances and riotous drunken stumbling. York Kennedy’s lighting brings us the flattering harvest glow of an autumn farm. Raquel M. Barreto’s costume designs run the gamut from Marina’s peasant garb to Yelena’s gorgeous city-dweller gowns, for which she has a perfect model in slender Sarah Grace Wilson. In Near’s production, gorgeous designs, skillful cast and expert wordsmith combine. For audiences familiar with Chekhov’s reputation, the CST production is a refreshing sigh of relief. For the rest, it is a fantastic production of a rarely produced masterpiece. “Uncle Vanya” runs until Aug. 31 at the Bruns Amphitheater in Orinda. Visit or call 510-548-9666 for tickets. Wind and fog may combine to create a startling climate change, so always dress appropriately.



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AT THE MOVIES In a summer full of explosions and comic book characters, “Brideshead Revisited” should have been a delicious vacation into a world of elegance and passion. Ah, well. “Brideshead Revisited” is the story of a middle-class boy’s infatuation with the upper-class lifestyle and his willingness to undergo any necessary trial to be a part of it. The cast is fantastic. Matthew Goode is appropriately sweet and unassuming as Charles Ryder, pulling out only the occasional glimpse of his own personality as he glides his way, chameleon-like, through any situation presented

to him. Any more vigor and he would have been exiled. He is liked precisely because he presents a lovely straight man, though his repeated lack of reaction does rob the audience of our ability to feel his injuries. Haley Atwell and Ben Whishaw are polar opposites as the Flyte siblings. Atwell’s Julia is stone-cold and impenetrable, even while she appears to soften externally. Whishaw’s Sebastian is so desperate for an emotional connection to anyone in his life that his descent into alcoholism is sadly expected. Emma Thompson is pitchperfect as Lady Marchmain, the icy matriarch whose actions and desires keep the entire cast hopping over the course of the 15year journey. What Thompson can exude without moving a single muscle is the stuff on which master classes are built. The biggest defects of this film are the faults of the creative staff. The script is defunct of

any real character development, which reverts the star-crossed love triangle into a gaggle of whining children. We’re told to believe that Ryder has some master plan, ala Tom Ripley, but we never see it. The only times he pulls out any personality are, fortuitously, the few times it manages to move the story along. When he escapes the family in multi-year gaps, we breathe a sigh of relief – until he gets sucked back in again. Considering that the script was penned by Andrew Davies, king of British period films, I would sincerely hope that it was richer on paper, in which case the problem reverts to the director and editor. Julian Jarrold, who has made a name for himself with such diverse pieces as “Becoming Jane” and “Kinky Boots,” falls flat here. Sure, the photography is gorgeous, which is important in a story with a castle as its primary setting and motivation,

but there is a distinct lack of tension or suspense, particularly as needed to sustain an audience through 140 minutes. In addition, several scenes are obvious cliches, which feel dated and dull. Jarrold made us wait with bated breath through Austen’s tortured love life. How could he fail so spectacularly here? In 1981, the BBC aired a 659-minute version of the story starring Jeremy Irons that won Emmys, BAFTAs and Golden Globes. Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel is approximately 350 pages long. This Cliff Notes version of “Brideshead” makes me want to watch the other version or read the real thing in order to see what story I should have experienced. Jeanna Ross is an English teacher at Clayton Valley High School and a free lance writer. She regularly contributes to the Pioneer. Send comments to her at

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Brothers Robert and Daniel San Souci took on the esteemed Brothers Grimm in launching their latest collaboration, “As Luck Would Have It,” with the Kids Club summer reading program at Clayton Books on Aug. 11. In Robert’s retelling of a classic tale, twins Jonas and Juniper Bear are left to tend the house and field chores as Mother and Father go off to look after Grandmother Bear. Warned to beware of thieves, Jonas and Juniper go through many misadventures at home before the good-hearted simple siblings set off to retrieve the family fortune from some tricky bandits. Hilarious illustrations by Daniel enhance the subtle humor as the Bears accidentally outwit the thieving trio. The San Souci brothers grew up in San Francisco and have collaborated on many children’s books, with Robert authoring and Daniel illustrating. “The first book we worked on together, we planned everything – including the art layout,” explains Robert, “but we soon found out the publishers have different printing formats, so we ended up with white blocks of space around the already completed illustrations.” “Now we work with editors and book designers, so we don’t sit down together very often to work,” Daniel adds. Daniel recently authored and illustrated his own stories based on the brothers’ real-life clubhouse adventures. Since he has been sketching cartoon versions

of his friends since childhood, many details of Daniel’s characters had already been worked out. “Bob was busy with other projects, so I decided to use what I’ve learned working

Souci event,” said Joel Harris, Clayton Books owner. “We’ll definitely do it again next year, probably starting the first weekend in May through Labor Day. We had more members than other bookstores because we

Photo by Nicci Shipstead

AUTHOR ROBERT SAN SOUCI (left) explains how his brother (seated at right) Daniel San Souci’s illustrations provide details which are often edited in storylines for fluency. The brothers presented their latest collaboration “As Luck Would Have It” for Kids Club summer reading program at Clayton Books on Aug. 11.

together over the years and give it a go on my own,” says Daniel. “It was easier to write than I thought it would be,” he says of his solo product, which includes “Space Station Mars.” Clayton Books announced the extension of the Kids Club summer reading program, moving the end-of-summer party to 2-4 p.m. Sept. 13. Featured author is Jeanne Duprau, speaking on her fourth and final book in the Ember series (available the end of August) in addition to a preview of the October movie release “The City of Ember.” “We have over 120 Kids Club members as of the San

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offer a better deal. We’re not making money on the Kids Club and we offer better events.” Kids Club memberships are still available for $5, with a free book plus 10 percent off all books for those 18 and under. Coming soon will be a free poster for visiting the store with a book review on recent reads. Clayton Books carries an extensive library of Robert and Daniel San Souci’s collection, including autographed copies. Clayton Books is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily at 5433 D Clayton Road, Clayton. For more information, visit or call 673-3325.

from page 1 they have done so. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but it does lead to violations. There is a tendency for people to believe they can do whatever they like on their own property. Sometimes this is true but when it impacts their neighbors in any way, the city’s rules and regulations come into play. The city often is not aware of violations until they receive a complaint, usually from a neighbor. The city considers these confidential, because some regulation violators have a junior high school mind frame which says you can bully people into submission. The city has had complaints about bees, dogs, sheds, walls and many other issues. These subjects have led to changes in city ordinances. They are also subjects which are currently on the city’s radar. Since there are ordinances (rules), there is also a process for dealing with them. If you call the city with what you believe is a violation of the rules, the city will investigate. This process can take time, since the ordinances have notification processes in them with specific periods of time called for to make the correction. When people let the process play out and the offending party complies, the process works well. When the offending party ignores the notices or is slow in replying, there are difficulties. There are also difficulties when the violator ignores the city. A case which has gotten some publicity illustrates the issues. A party on Mitchell Canyon Road set up a vegetable stand. Someone complained and the city investigated. In an administrative review, it was determined this was a land use issue and planning director David Woltering wrote to the vegetable stand property owner noting the administrative denial. This written notice told them they had five days to appeal. Other parties told them they could appear under public hearing at the Planning Commission or City Council. Their reaction was to post a sign indicating that the city of Clayton was “banning” their vegetable stand. The Planning Commission has scheduled a public discussion of the issue on Aug. 26. I know it can be frustrating to deal with inconsiderate neighbors and even with the city in what can often seem like a long, involved process to deal with simple matters. That is the way it is today. In the many years I have been on the Clayton City Council, I have always tried to do the greatest good for the greatest number. I hope the new City Council members will have a similar philosophy. If you are in doubt as to whether an action you are contemplating will violate a city rule, please call City Hall at 673-7300 and ask. As always, you can e-mail me at

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Clayton Pioneer •

Page 11

‘Raw Olympics’ would be most interesting I liked the original Olympic concept, first in lore, started by Hercules, the son of Zeus, although the first recorded event was dated in 776 BC. What made it interesting was that runners were naked, which, by today’s level of television viewing, would be an audience rating draw and a censorship nightmare with fuzzy masking boxes hiding certain Olympian assets. It would have been called “The Raw Olympics” or something equally enticing, and between commercials for Oly, the beer of champions, and some birth control pill that not only prevented pregnancy but also prevented PMS mood swings, the Olympics would have a far different resonance than our present, commercialized games of dubious authenticity. Also of note, the word


DEAL WITH IT “gymnasium” comes from the Greek word “gymnos” which means “nude.” It seems to be a prevalent theme. The games are supposed to be amateur ranking, and the ages of some participants from countries other than our own are clearly defined in number, although vague in pre-pubescent facial features. Or am I being too clouded in

my judgment? Olympic outfits have changed as well, from the old standard, buck-naked to spandex, weaves, ultra, gossamer, body suits that make the boys look like girls and the girls look like boys. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference. Game categories, usually the decision of the host country, have become somewhat standardized, although many question the validity of volleyball as a true sport of champions. Still, there are those moments of amazement as swimmers, clearly short on oxygen yet strong in will, manage Herculean moves to drag themselves across the finish line with amazing power. One cannot help but admire those endeavors and relish in their victory with breathless anticipation. This Olympics had the

added allure of being held in China. The lead-up to the games, with factories shut down in an attempt to clear the coal-soaked smoke from the atmosphere, still resulted in many asthmatic athletes leaving the games. China put on an impressive opening ceremony, demonstrating with 2008 precision drummers and an equal quantity of dancers, throughout the multi-hour opening, that the Chinese are large in number as well as strong in economics. There are few products left in America that turned over do not reveal the mark of China as testament to their ability and our dependence. In 1896, the games held in Athens had swimmers in the Bay of Zea in the Aegean Sea. Struggling against the terribly cold water, the athletes fought a

André Gensburger is a staff reporter and feature writer for the Pioneer. His email address is

Money shouldn’t be a factor in the joy of senior year MICHELLE TROSCLAIR

STUDENT REPORTER I would like to start off by wishing Clayton Valley a happy 50th birthday. It is a privilege for the class of 2009 to be a part of this momentous time in the school’s history, and I am excited to see all the alumni celebrations in store for the Clayton Valley community. On a slightly less chipper note, I couldn’t help but take heed of the immense fiscal strain of senior year. Surely

senior year should be replete with special activities, but at what cost? Senior Picnic, Senior Brunch, Grad Night, Ball and senior pictures have become an irreplaceable part of senior year. These events, however, tend to add up. Grad Night is $90, Senior Picnic is $40 and Ball can be much pricier depending upon how extravagant the individual chooses to make it. Also, deadlines for college applications require students to take exorbitant standardized tests. Many who call Concord or Clayton their hometowns are not under huge amounts of

financial stress. It isn’t uncommon to see students pull into the parking lot with flashy cars or meandering around campus with a new iPod or cell phone. But after a rude awakening a few years ago, I realized that not all are so fortunate. I believe it was my sophomore year, and the campus was buzzing with the excitement associated with homecoming week. The final bell had just finished ringing and I ran into one of my classmates. For the sake of small talk, I asked him if he was looking forward to the dance. When he told me he wasn’t going, I was shocked. Why a friendly, sociable guy

School News DIABLO VIEW MIDDLE SCHOOL Diablo View Middle School is currently accepting local business ads for their student directory that goes out to more than 600 families. Your business ad will help offset printing costs. Contact Mary Del Monte at regarding ad pricing. MT. DIABLO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Mt. Diablo Elementary School is having its first fund raiser August 26th with the “You’re Invited” coupon book sale. Cost is $20. The books include great offers from both Ed’s Mudville Grill and Moresi’s Chop House. To reserve your copy send an email to

CLAYTON VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL The Clayton Valley High School Parent Faculty Club is sponsoring a fundraiser with Ames PSAT Prep Seminars, “An Introduction to College Entrance Exams - Prepare for the test” for Junior and Sophomore college-bound students at CVHS from 7:00 - 9:00 pm on Tuesdays, 9/23,10/7,10/14 and 1/13. Parents are invited on 1/13 to review the PSAT results with their student. The PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is given at CVHS and high schools throughout the country in October. You must register for the actual PSAT test through your high school. For more information on the PSAT Prep Seminar, contact CVHS PFC parent Melinda Moore at 925-672-0930 or

On Sept. 1

contest of strength and agility. The oath of the Olympics states that the most important aspect of the games was not to win but to take part, comparing it to life where the struggle, not the triumph, was the prime force. Likewise, until 1912, the gold medals truly were made of gold – a tangible victory with a tangible reward. At the first recorded games held in 776 BCE, there was a single event called the stade. At the time, a stade was a unit of measure equivalent to 600 feet and it became the name of the footrace. It was a distance run. This ultimately was held in a “stadium.” Finally, the motto for the Olympics is Citius, Altius, Fortius, which means faster, stronger and higher. It seems that all the athletes achieve this goal and adequately deal with it.

would miss out on the “extravaganza” was beyond me. Being the nosy and impulsive person that I am, I asked what his reasoning was and he told me his parents didn’t have the money for it. Not only did I feel incredibly rude and insensitive, but it definitely opened my eyes up to some of the preconceived notions I had about where I live. Some people might argue that senior year can be extraordinary without all of the special events. School is compiled of so much more than the superfluous celebrations, but at the same time, some things can’t be replaced. If a student were to miss the senior ball, for example, that isn’t something he or she can ever have back. If students want to abstain from participating in school events, then that’s their prerogative. But it should be unheard of for any student to miss out due to financial reasons. It’s inevitable that we all leave high school with some regrets – from not living up to our potential to making irresponsible choices. We all know that life isn’t supposed to be perfect. But I would sincerely regret seeing someone’s high school experience marred by something as replaceable and petty as money.

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Clayton Pioneer •

August 22, 2008

Clayton Sports Dana Hills Swim Team again captures City title Oakhurst team earns Sportsmanship Award

Stagner in the 7-8 girls, Megan Schussman in the 11-12 girls, Niklas Weigelt in the 7-8 boys, Liam Calkins in the 9-10 boys, Derek Anderson in the 13-14 boys and Patrick Keane in the 15-18 boys. In the B division, Tony Lampo achieved the high point award in the 13-14 boys.

RANDY ROWLAND Clayton Pioneer

While Americans were riveted to their TVs watching the likes of Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin take on the best of the world at the Beijing Olympics, the Dana Hills Swim Team Otters created some magic of their own as they achieved the most points ever by a swim team at the Concord City Championships. The city meet was held Aug. 9-10 at a packed Concord Community Park pool. The Otters finished with a team best 985 points, outdistancing runner-up Springwood Swim Team by more than 100 points in the A Division. In the process, Dana Hills won several high point awards and set several more city meet records. In the B division, the Otters also came out on top – this time ahead of Forest Park. Points are awarded for each individual race and high point awards are given to swimmers who accumulate the most points in their three events. There were many memorable performances by the Otters, including A division high point winners Lily

Photo by Scott Anderson


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Should young athletes focus on one sport? Each issue, a panel of Clayton sports enthusiasts will air their views on a current topic in the sporting world. If you would like to suggest a topic or question to our panels, email Should young athletes be encouraged by coaches and/or parents to play one sport and specialize? If so, at what age? MERRIGAN: I think this depends on the kid. At a young age, when kids are just beginning to play team sports like baseball, football or soccer, it’s healthy for them to try dif-

ferent things. They may also try out individual sports like tennis or golf. But in general, it’s up to the child to really know what they like and are good at. I don’t think parents should try to limit kids to one sport or force them to even play at all when they are young. Many kids don’t know yet what they want to do. As they approach their preteens and teens, however, it probably is OK to specialize in one sport if the child wants to really focus on it. SNYDER: When I was a kid, parents and coaches wanted us to play multiple sports. Youth sports then evolved into specialties where kids started going to trainers during the off-season and stayed involved with one sport. With my kids, we have seen recreation soccer turn into year-round soccer before our eyes. Is there a prob-

Rob Helena

lem with this? I don’t think so. It is just the way our youth sports are run today. After being a coach for several years, I sometimes think the parents “forget” to ask the child: “What do you want to play this year?” Youth sports should be about wanting to play a sport and letting them play as many sports as they desire. When they get to high school, they should be old enough to decide if they want to specialize. RAFALLO: This is such a fine line we walk as parents and coaches. I think kids should be encouraged to do a variety of things. I also think crosstraining in different sports makes you a better athlete. If children try a variety of things early on, say to age 10 or 11, they’re going to know what they most enjoy doing. I almost have a bigger problem with the parents who have their kids enrolled in three or

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four sports at once. Age 12 is probably a good time to specialize or prioritize a sport. I think they almost have to decide by this age, otherwise they get left behind. I know kids going into high school who would like to try something new, but there’s no way they’re making a team unless they’ve been doing it at least recreationally for four or five years. KIRMSSE: It depends on the child, the coach and the parent. If the child is a recreational athlete and she only wants to play one sport and that is all you can get her to play, then specialization keeps the child in a healthy sports activity. With more competitive sports, playing one sport can be rewarding and does not produce injuries if the child has a coach who puts athletic development above winning. If the coach and the parent put

Chris Snyder

Ralph Stelzner

the child first and focus on athletic development, specialization is not, in and of itself, harmful. HELENA: Kids should play more than one sport. If they display a passion for a particular sport, 12 to 13 years old is probably the right age. What makes playing multiple youth sports so difficult is the deterioration of the recreational programs. In some sports, particularly baseball, basketball, and soccer, rec programs have been replaced by year-round, expensive and time-consuming competitive programs. These programs promise high school readiness in that particular sport. On top of being discriminatory against the economically disadvantaged, the commitment to these programs leaves little time for most kids

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RECORD-BREAKING EVENTS In addition to the high point champions, Dana Hills swimmers broke several city meet records, including two by Ashley Jennings and three by Keane. Three relay teams broke city records. The girls 13-14 medley, which included Nikki Palmer, Jenna Stelzner, Paige Reilly and Samantha Boeger, came in at 2:00:25. The 13-14 boys won both the medley and the freestyle relays. Anderson, TJ Brassil, Kenny Johnson and Josh Harmon swam in both races. They came in at 1:48:92 in the medley and 1:36:40 in the freestyle. Clayton’s Keane, a De La Salle High School senior who has been swimming for Dana Hills for 12 years, may have recorded the most dominating performance of the weekend meet. He placed first in all three events he entered. Keane, who swims in the 15-18 division,

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Clayton Sports

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Bicyclist takes on 66-mile challenge RANDY ROWLAND Clayton Pioneer

Clayton’s Stacey Okimoto doesn’t hide from the fact that she is turning 50 this year. In her mind, it is just a number. However, Okimoto made it a goal at the beginning of the year to do something special and accomplish a physical task that she had been considering for some time. On June 28, she rode her 19year-old hybrid road/mountain bike in the 66-mile Breathe Easy Ride in Sonoma County. “This is something I wanted to do to challenge myself,” she said. “And turning 50, it seemed like the right time to do it.” Okimoto grew up in the Danville area and did not participate in typical team sports, but she has always enjoyed biking. She competed in swimming at a young age and has been snow skiing since she was 14. She bicycled for fun growing up and to have transportation before she could drive but did not take it seriously until she was older. She participated in the Cinderella ride, a 60-mile ride through Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton, about 16 years ago in a women’s-only race. After daughter Sarah was born in 1994, she, Sarah and husband Jerry began biking for fun, mostly taking the bicycles on camping trips and exploring the scenery. GOING FOR A SPIN After making the decision to attempt a lengthy bicycle ride again, Okimoto began researching events in Northern California. She selected the Breathe Easy because it was a good location and fit her schedule. This also worked for her sister Dana Karcher, an avid bicyclist who completed the ride with her. There were three different courses, a 10-mile, a 35-mile and a 66-mile course. Okimoto selected the 66-mile course and began training in January.

Okimoto had been going to the gym for years and has begun her workout routine at 5 a.m. at Maverick’s for the last several years. She alternates between the stationary bike and jogging

mal routine. “It really was the best way to train.” She also would get out on Saturday mornings through the winter and spring and gradually increase her distance from 25

Photo courtesy of Stacy Okimoto

UNDAUNTED AT THE THOUGHT OF TURNING 50, Stacy Okimoto tackles a 66-mile fundraising bike ride for the American Lung Association. or power walking on the treadmill, mixing in some free weights. She also found a spin class that would better prepare her for the ride. “Spin class is biking to music,” said Okimoto, noting that the one-hour class every day was soon replacing her nor-

SPORTS SHORTS CVHS EAGLES REUNION As part of Clayton Valley’ High School’s anniversary celebration, the Eagles will host a full-contact alumni game on Oct. 18 at 1 p.m. at CVHS Stadium. Teams will be comprised of ODD years competing against EVEN years. Cost is $50 which includes coaches, game officials, jerseys, trainer, and equipment. Alumni from ODD years should contact coach Brad Swint at 925-997-2691 and EVEN years should contact Les Garaventa at For additional information and to sign up, please contact Coach Pardi at (925) 682-7474 x 5 or visit for more details.

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miles up to 55 miles. The last ride she made prior to the Breathe Easy was a 55-mile ride down the Iron Horse Trail from her house in Clayton to Dublin and back into Martinez two weeks prior to her race. SCENIC SONOMA COURSE The day of the race, the sisters started their day at 4:30 a.m. to make the trek up to Sonoma Mountain Village in Rohnert Park for the start of the 7 a.m. race. The riders ranged from teen-agers to older participants, both men and women. The ride is through the country roads of Sonoma County, meandering through farmland and over rivers. Riders go at their own pace. The course includes flat stretches and inclines of up to 4,000 feet as the riders made

their way into Tomales and back. From the start in Rohnert Park, the riders went east through the Chileno Valley, into the hills at Tomales and north on Highway 1 before heading back west through the Petaluma valley and Cotati, with only four brief rest stops along the way. Okimoto mentioned the many old farm houses, school houses, animals and even an old winery she saw during the ride. The ride lasted about 5½ hours, but Okimoto joked that it would have been even longer had her sister not pushed her so hard to keep up. According to Okimoto, they didn’t come in last but they were close. “My sister would ride up a hill and stop and wait for me. She kept getting asked if she was OK and finally said, ‘I’m just waiting for my sister.’ ” LOOKING TO THE FUTURE Following the fund-raising ride, there was a party with a band and food in Rohnert Park. Okimoto overheard a team of riders who recognized the sisters say, “The one in the pink (Dana) has the really good bike; the other one has the crappy one.” Okimoto laughs about how long she has had this bike and is considering buying a new one. “I am thinking of either a Trek or a Specialized bike,” she said. If she gets the bike soon, she may consider another event in the fall. Otherwise, she will participate in something next year. She raised more than $450 in donations for the American Lung Association, and the event raised more than $40,000 for the cause. “I did not choose this ride because of the sponsor,” Okimoto said, “but I am glad I could help out.” Husband Jerry watched his wife train and felt confident she would have no problem completing the event. “When she first mentioned it, I knew it was going to be a big challenge. But knowing her, I knew she was going to finish it,” he said, adding that when she finds something she wants to do, she will follow through and get it done. “My mom trained really hard for this, and I knew she could do this,” daughter Sarah said. “I am really proud of her. “It felt great being able to accomplish this – setting a goal and doing it,” Okimoto reflected. “I could have trained more, but the rewarding part for me was just finishing what I set out to do.”

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The Clayton Valley Sluggers 9 and Under won the Alameda Island Classic Baseball Tournament Aug. 9-10. The Sluggers, coached by Chris Snyder, Greg Redmond and Mike Treppa, came back strong on Sunday after ending Saturday with an 8-8 tie and an 8-5 loss. Shorthanded with nine players, the Sluggers beat the San Francisco All Stars 2-1 in the semifinals and the Alameda All Stars 6-2 in the championship game. The team played a flawless game against San Francisco. Shortstop Evan Enos made several fantastic defensive plays. Matthew Freeman made some amazing catches in center field, and an all-out diving tag by Kevin Snyder behind the plate kept a huge run off the board. Offensively, Joe Sisneros put the Sluggers on the board in the fourth after a lead-off hit. Chris Bauer followed with what would be the game-winning hit and RBI. Coming on the heels of three great innings pitched on Saturday, Nick Von Boenisch gave up only one run on three hits in three innings. Snyder closed the final three innings,



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The Oakland Diocese’s Catholic Youth Organization is a church-sponsored athletic program for elementary and junior high age youth. CYO sponsors a variety of sports: girls and boys basketball, girls volleyball, girls and boys track and field, girls and boys cross country, girls softball, boys sand volleyball and cheerleading. In many sports, teams are offered for children in third through eighth grades. St. Bonaventure’s in Concord offers track and field and basketball. The basketball program is about to get under way, with signups and registration later this month. In CYO programs, the emphasis rests not on the number of games won or lost but on the participants’ attitude in victory or defeat. Learning how to lose is just as important as learning how to win. Learning how to win graciously is even more important.

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allowing no runs on two hits. For the tournament, Snyder threw seven innings, allowed one run and struck out seven while closing both games on Sunday. He said the semi-final game was his favorite, “because of the play where I dove to make the tag at the plate.” He is looking forward to their next tournament in Sunnyvale over Labor Day weekend. “I like being on this team because of all my friends I play with, and we use it for motivation,” added Snyder, a pitcher, catcher and sometimes center fielder. In the championship game, Ryan Redmond took the mound and threw three shutout innings and allowed only one hit. In addition, his .425 batting average and three RBIs led the Sluggers for the weekend. The Sluggers trailed 2-1 through four innings with only Sisneros scoring. After Chad Treppa scored in the fifth, Snyder stole home on a trick play to take a 3-2 lead into the sixth. In the last inning, Bauer led off with a single. Redmond walked and Marcus Nikaido had an RBI hit that allowed Treppa to break the game open with a beautiful bunt that scored the final run. Treppa led the team

Photo courtesy of Jeanne Nakanishi

THE CLAYTON VALLEY SLUGGERS RECENTLY WON THE ALAMEDA TOURNAMENT IN THE 9-10 BOYS DIVISION. Top Row: Coaches Chris Snyder, Mike Treppa and Greg Redmond. Middle Row: Joe Sisneros, Nick Von Boenisch and Matthew Freeman. Bottom Row: Chad Treppa, Kevin Sndyer, Evan Enos, Ryan Redmond, Chris Bauer and Marcus Nikaido.

with four hits over the weekend. The defensive star at catcher was Nikaido, who did not allow a run to cross home plate. Enos added two innings on the mound, and Snyder closed out the sixth inning for a 6-2 victory. “The championship game was exciting, because we got a

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CYO also believes in the principles of fair play and sportsmanship. Tim O’Hara has been the athletic director of St. Bonaventure’s CYO programs for 18 years. “It is just a wonderful program,” he says. O’Hara got involved with the program through coaching but has stayed on because he is so positive about the program. “At St. Bonaventure, we have a very special program – and great kids and great coaches,” O’Hara says. For the 2008-’09 basketball season, St. Bonaventure expects to field about 45 teams with 400-450 players. The league is open to boys and girls in grades 2-8. The second and third graders combine the first season. The season has about 10 games, with home games at Clayton Valley High School or Diablo View Middle School. Basketball registration is 78:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, and Tuesday, Sept. 2, at the

church, 5562 Clayton Road. No experience is necessary. The only requirements are a willingness to play and a positive attitude. St. Bonaventure subscribes to an all-play rule, and the coaches strive to get all players half a game of playing time. Practices are normally held one or twice per week beginning in November. The season runs through mid-February, followed by league and diocese playoffs. The volunteer coaches mostly come from the ranks of parents. Coaches are required to pass a background check and are fingerprinted. They are required to attend meetings and obtain a coach’s license. The CYO is always looking for coaches and referees. Refs are paid $15-$25 per game.

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lot of big hits and the pitchers did great,” Nikaido said. “I like this team because it is a lot of fun.” The Sluggers will be playing a fall tournament schedule with a roster made up of local players from Clayton Valley and the Junior Optimist Baseball League (JOBL).

Speaking, from page 12 to enjoy or get better in other sports. Sadly, today’s youth sports programs provide few options for kids who just want to play. STELZNER: The simple answer might be “when the athlete is ready to choose.” However, it probably depends on the sport and how elite the athlete is. In swimming, for example, I hear that coaches want to get their athletes commitment before their bodies change from puberty so that they are able to groom and build the muscle groups that are optimal for that sport. This all depends on the athlete’s potential, and judging that is the greatest challenge. I think that for the vast majority of kids, they should play as many sports as possible so that they will want to be active for their entire life. I’m concerned about burning younger kids out and creating couch potatoes because they are forced to choose too early and didn’t get to enjoy just being athletic.

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Clayton Pioneer •

A rundown of CERT basics As a CERT member, I volunteered on July 4th with countless other volunteers to direct traffic and parking, give out information and man traffic barricades downtown. If you’ve ever volunteered or looked somewhat “official,” then you know that questions come with the territory. Yes, I got a lot of them and the most intriguing ones came from people who knew I was a CERT. Questions were about disaster preparedness, what to do during a disaster, what to expect for help and how CERT helps the community. After the parade, I realized an article could help answer the questions and help you gain a better understanding of what CERT means to the residents of Clayton. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. With the classroom training and exercises, CERTs can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERTs also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active


SAFETY ZONE role in emergency preparedness projects in their community. The program is about readiness, people helping people, rescuer safety and doing the greatest good for the greatest number. It is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where residents will be initially on their own and their actions can make a difference. Through training, residents can manage utilities and put out small fires; treat the three killers by opening airways, controlling bleeding and treating for shock; provide basic medical aid; search for and rescue victims safely; and organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective. People who go through CERT training have a better understanding of the potential threats to their home, workplace and community and can take the

right steps to lessen the effects of these hazards on themselves, their homes or workplace. If a disaster happens that overwhelms local response capability, CERTs can apply the training learned in the classroom and during exercises to give critical support to their family, loved ones, neighbors or associates in their immediate area until help arrives. When help does arrive, CERTs provide useful information to responders and support their efforts, as directed, at the disaster site. CERTs can also assist with non-emergency projects that improve the safety of the community by helping to distribute and/or install smoke alarms, replace smoke alarm batteries in the home of elderly, distribute disaster education material and provide services at special events, such as parades, sporting events, concerts and more. In Clayton, we have about 80 trained CERTs. In a major disaster, chances are that authorities won’t be available immediately and you may even run into a CERT member before you run into a professional responder. There is an even higher likelihood that you may not have contact with anyone who is trained for an emergency. Therefore, you should be prepared to be on your own for several days with a disaster pre-

The Clayton CERT Website is and the national CERT site is

paredness kit and plan. CERTs are easily identifiable wearing a green vest and/or helmet with the letters CERT stenciled in yellow on both. And they’ll usually have a two-way radio in hand. You can help CERTs by providing information about potential hazards, casualties, etc. The CERTs will take any info to pass on to other CERTs or professional emergency responders as they become available. The goal is for Clayton to have 200 fully trained members. Getting trained is fun, informative and free. It only takes a minor commitment meeting, one night per week for about three hours and lasts six weeks. There is still room in the class which begins Sept. 25. If you are interested in learning more about CERT or to join a class, call 673-7355. Harun Simbirdi is a member of the City of Clayton Citizen Corp Council, part of the CERT Team, and a resident of Clayton. He can be reached at or call 570-1324.

Page 15

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Swim, from page 12 demolished three city meet records by touching the wall in 54:23 in the 100-yard IM, at 57.45 in the 100-yard breaststroke and 54.36 in the 100-yard backstroke. “The breaststroke was definitely the most exciting race, because I was able to break the record I set last year,” Keane said. His goal had been to improve his times, so the results were unexpected. “It just all went right for me,” he said. He plans to play water polo at De La Salle and still enjoys being a part of Dana Hills. “The team is just fun, and I enjoy all of the different age groups and the team atmosphere.” SHAVING OFF 2 SECONDS Meanwhile, Jennings is on the swim and water polo teams at Clayton Valley High School. She too had a weekend she soon won’t forget. Jennings, who moved to Clayton going into sixth grade at Diablo View, trained with the national team at Concord Terrapins last summer. At the city meet, she shattered city meet records in the women’s 1518 100-yard IM and the 100yard backstroke. Her times were 1:01:25 and 1:01:36, respectively. She also helped a relay team to a third-place finish. “I was just hoping to drop a second off of my best time, but I was able to drop 2, so it was really nice and it was surprising,” she said. Jennings considers back stroke her strongest event. She

believed that doing well at the Woodland Invitational the week prior prepared her for this event. “Dana Hills swim team has been great,” she noted. “There is a great club atmosphere and team activities, and I have a lot of close friends on the team.” A TRIPLE PLAY Calkins, a 10-year-old entering sixth grade at Diablo View, won the individual high point in the 9-10 boys division. He won three races – the 50-yard freestyle, the 50-yard butterfly and the 100-yard IM, where he swam a personal best. He felt confident going into the meet. “I thought I would do really well, because we’ve been really training hard.” He said his favorite event was the butterfly finals, because he was seeded second and dropped 2 seconds off his time to finish in 34 seconds. He likes being a part of Dana Hills, because “everyone helps each other out and they are all nice to each other.” Schussman was another high point winner from Clayton. She is going into the seventh grade at Diablo View and has been swimming with the Otters since she was 4. She previously won the high point award when she was in the 5-6s, 7-8s and 9-10s. This year, she took first place in all three of her events to claim the high point award in the 11-12 girls division. She won the 100-yard IM, the 50-yard freestyle and the 50-yard breaststroke. She said the breaststroke

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GIRLS 11-12 HIGH POINT WINNER MEGAN SCHUSSMAN displaying her trophy at the Concord City Championships.

final was the most exciting event because she swam against a lot of friends and teammates. “I thought I would do well, but this was really great,” she said. “It is fun to hang out with friends all summer, and the city meet is one I look forward to every year.” Dana Hills coach Matt Zachan is proud of his swimmers this season. “They worked extremely hard during the season, and their hard work paid off at this meet,” he said. “One thing that we really stress is believing in yourself and believing in your goals, and almost everyone achieved their goals for the season at city meet.” SUCCESS FROM OAKHURST Dana Hills was not the only Clayton swim team to have

success at the City Championships. Many Oakhurst swimmers won high points in the B division, including U6 girls winner Grace Bradley, 9-10 girls winner Kaylee Collins, 9-10 boys cowinners Blake Daniels and Jaden Shaw, 11-12 girls winner Allison Macaulay and 13-14 girls Devan Murphy-Hopson. In addition, five Orcas qualified for the Contra Costa County meet: Riley Shaw, Megan Morimoto, Kimi Dennis, Lindsay Treppa and Kasey Fitzsimmons. The Oakhurst Orcas also won the prestigious Sportsmanship Award, awarded to the club exhibiting the best sportsmanship of all the teams in Concord/Clayton. Macaulay has been swimming at Oakhurst for five years and this is her first time getting high points. To earn that distinction, she won first in the breast stroke, second place in the backstroke and eighth place in freestyle. “I was not expecting to win because me and my friend Nicole Haley were pretty close, then I beat her in the backstroke final,” she said. She is proud of the Sportsmanship Award her team won. “We did very well in sportsmanship this year, and it meant a lot to win that.” Dennis, a sixth grader, moved on to compete in the county championships in the 50-yard freestyle. She also swam in the IM and the breast stroke in the city meet. “I like the competition in the city meet,” she said, “and it is fun to swim against the best in my age.”

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Page 16

Clayton Pioneer •

August 22, 2008

Book Review

Expect great things from ‘Mister Pip’

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After finishing New Zealand author Lloyd Jones’ novel “Mister Pip,” I had to ask myself, “Does it get any better than this?” I don’t think so, at least not for the year 2008. The setting is a tropical island, one of the Solomon Islands, now part of New Guinea but called Bougainville in the novel. Within the parameters of Jones’ story, the island is the antithesis of what we might imagine as a “tropical island.” Bougainville represents loss. In the grip of a civil war, the white owners of the copper mine have closed it down. Along with the missionaries, nurses and teachers, they have fled Bougainville for the safety of New Zealand and Australia. Even some native mine workers have left their families, lured by better jobs and with shallow promises to return when the

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This is a novel of new days. so too does Matilda. By the time The dramatic changes that Mr. Watts finds himself reading occur within Dickens’ story are the story to a marauding gang of foreshadowings of the changes rebels (young natives all war likely to occur for Matilda and spent), we begin to make conher friends. Can fiction, can art, nections between Dickens’ charmake that acters and varikind of differous villagers. ence? Mr. We begin to Watts believes see ourselves it. as well. Jones M a t i l d a ’s brings his mulmother, on tilayered tale of the other the power of hand, is conimagination vinced Watts and art to a is leading the crushing clichildren max that will astray. She is a leave the readsteely devoted er agog. Christian who The result believes all of the climax that Matilda is Matilda’s needs can be epilogue. LLOYD JONES found in the Mysteries are Bible, not in unraveled, frailsome novel. ties forgiven and hope secured. In fewer than 260 pages, This is a novel to be read and Jones sets our imaginations reread. The writing is beautiful, soaring. Matilda grows as dear the plot singular and the satisto the reader of this novel as faction for the reader immeasurPip became to her through read- able. ing “Great Expectations.” The Sunny Solomon is the BookLady battle between Matilda’s mother and bookseller emeritus of Clayton and Mr. Watts for control of Books in the Clayton Station. She Matilda’s soul rages as fiercely as holds an MA in English and the battle between the rebels Creative Writing from San Francisco and the redskins for control of State University. Sunny is a poet and the island. loves to “talk books.” Reach her with Just as Pip in “Great questions or comments at 673-3325. Expectations” has a benefactor,

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war ends. The father of the novel’s protagonist, 13-year-old Matilda, is among those who have fled the island. The only white man remaining in Matilda’s village is Mr. Watts, who refuses to leave his ailing wife, native-born Grace. Watts is a strange man of immense eccentricity, who not only stays but also appoints himself village teacher. Is he a professional teacher? Not at all; nevertheless, he comes to the abandoned schoolhouse prepared to teach what he might, armed with the profound belief that much of what the children will need to know in life, especially at this time of great upheaval, can be found in his sole copy of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.” Ah, I hear you murmur, that Mr. Pip. The children are spellbound by their introduction to Victorian England, a place far away from the dangerous place they call home. As Matilda explains it, “Mr. Watts had given us kids another world to spend the night in.” What is night like for the families in Matilda’s village? “In the Tropics, night falls quickly. If you are not ready with candles and kerosene lamps, the quick fall of night is like being put away in a dark cell, from where there is no release until the following dawn.”

Those age 65 years or older should have an eye examination performed by an ophthalmologist every one to two years, even without existing risk factors. These risk factors may not be based only on ocular history but also on medical and family history. Newly diagnosed diabetes mellitus is a common reason for a senior citizen to have a baseline examination at the prompting of an endocrinologist. Those with a family history of eye diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma have increased risk with age. After conducting a medical and ophthalmic history, including the use of medications, an ophthalmologist will be able to tell you if there is significant ocular disease detected. It is not uncommon for ophthalmologists to see patients in their 90s who have excellent vision in both eyes. However, minor changes in vision are nor-

mal with age and often do not pose serious risk for the vision and can easily be overcome. Many experience dimness of vision and require more light because their pupils do not dilate at dark. It is important that seniors and their caregivers understand that proper eye care is an essential part of their overall health care. An ophthalmologist should be immediately contacted if there are severe and persistent symptoms, including:           

Loss of vision. Sudden blurred or hazy vision. Double vision. Pain in or around the eye. Seeing flashes of light in one or both eyes. Halos around lights at night. Painful or intense sensitivity to light. Discharge or foreign body in the eye. Changes in the color of the iris or clarity of the cornea. New onset or sudden change in floaters of flashing lights. Distortion or waviness of vision.

As people live longer and baby boomers reach maturity, age-related eye diseases including cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration are expected to dramatically increase – from 28 million today

to 43 million by the year 2020, as estimated by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Fortunately, excellent treatments exist for most of the agerelated eye problems. Blindness can virtually be eliminated from diabetic retinopathy with laser treatment applied at certain stages of the disease. Cataract surgery is one of the most successful operations in medicine. More than 1 million Americans undergo the procedure yearly, with more than 95 percent showing improvement in vision. Ophthalmology has never

had a better chance to maintain or improve vision. It is mandatory that seniors who have the highest incidents of the leading visual disorders be evaluated and have their visual complaints taken seriously. It has never been truer that regular eye evaluation prevents blindness. We hope seniors continue to see and enjoy their golden years. Kelly Ferro is Marketing Director for Aegis of Concord. Send comments or questions to

Church News BAHA’I INTERFAITH DEVOTION AND FELLOWSHIP Everyone is cordially invited to an interfaith devotion followed by a talk and fellowship. The subject is The Healing of Humanity; Forgiveness and Mercy. The speaker is Ms. Pamela Carr. The gathering is at the Toloui residence in Clayton at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 5. Please call 925-672-6686 for directions and more information. ST. AGNES CATHOLIC CHURCH AND SCHOOL The Annual Fall Fest 3-day event is set for Sept. 26-28 at St. Agnes Catholic Church, 3966 Chestnut Ave. Concord. It kicks-off Friday night with a Spaghetti Dinner with the Carnival Midway open through the weekend featuring carnival games, food, live entertainment, and a bouncy house for the kids. Sat. evening features a BBQ dinner followed by live music and dancing. Pancake breakfast on Sunday morning after the 9 and 10:45 a.m. Masses. Raffle tickets featuring a grand prize of $1,000 will be offered from Sept. 1-28. Call (925) 689-0838 to request your raffle ticket or send email to

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August 22, 2008

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 17

Indoor life can be fulfilling for cats Carol Ross, adoption manager as the Animal Rescue Foundation, provided me with some excellent tips on keeping family kitties safe and sound. Let’s just say you’ve just adopted a fabulous feline. Your new family member may be a kitten that delights you with boundless energy as she continually races through the house. Or you may have adopted a sophisticated adult who enjoys a sunny spot to nap and a gentle scratch behind the ear as she welcomes you home after a long day at the office. Whatever its age, your new family member will look to you to keep her safe. INDOOR-ONLY A GOOD OPTION

Once your cat has become accustomed to your house, please





consider keeping her safely indoors. There are many reasons for keeping your cat indoors. Cats who spend time outdoors require more medical attention from injury and diseases. The average lifespan of an indoor-only cat is estimated to be 18 years or longer, while cats allowed to roam freely live 6-10 years.

Other things your cat will miss by staying indoors are: fights with other cats, being hit by a car, exposure to feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia, getting lost or trapped and surrendered to an animal shelter, exposure to rabies, ringworm or other diseases which are transmittable to humans, and exposure to fleas, ticks and other parasites. Free-roaming cats also hunt lizards, birds and rodents, no matter how well they are fed. Most birds or small animals caught by cats are not killed outright but die slowly from injuries or infection. If you love wildlife, keep your cat indoors. FINDING THE RIGHT DISTRACTIONS

Many people feel cats need to go outside for enjoyment.

Raiders show support for ARF The Oakland Raiders have kicked off the football season with a special Silver and Black promotion sure to please the kitty market segment. From now through Oct. 19, The Raiders will pick up the $250 adoption fee for any silver and

black adult ARF cats adopted through Oct. 19. All ARF cats have been spayed or neutered, have had all shots and been tested for HIV. Normal adoption criteria still apply. For more information, visit or call (925) 256-1273.

You can provide entertainment and enrichment for your cat while keeping her safe and happy indoors. Cat perches are an excellent way to provide safe climbing opportunities. Set it in front of a window so your cat can enjoy the outside world. Cats are dedicated bird watchers by nature, so a bird feeder near the window will allow kitty to watch the birds from her perch inside. Interactive toys like wands with feathers, bells or shiny materials are a feline’s delight. Regular play sessions will keep her fit and will strengthen the bond. Other things cats love are empty paper bags, wine corks, wads of paper, drinking straws and empty spools. A cat’s life can be rich and complete even if the great outdoors isn’t part of it. And it’ll be safer.

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Special Services Include: Tropicana is a busy girl who is always on the go. She is hearing impaired and will require a dedicated adopter who can commit to providing her with the training and exercise she requires. The adoption fee for Tropicana is $225 and includes the first seven training courses. Bitsy Witsy is a very sweet girl who will blossom in a quiet environment. Win her heart by offering a chin rub.

August 8 through October 19, the adoption fee will be waived for Bitsy Witsy and all other “Silver and Black” adult cats. Thanks to The Oakland Raiders for their sponsorship of this promotion. Meet your forever friend at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, 2890 Mitchell Drive, Walnut Creek, during adoption hours: 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The primary caretaker must be present to adopt. ARF also encourages kids 16 and younger and canine family members (dog adoptions only) to be present during the adoption process. Would you like to be part of the heroic team that saves the lives of rescued dogs and cats? Can you share your talents to connect people and animals? ARF volunteers are making a difference! For more information see our Web site,, or call (925) 256-1ARF.

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Clayton Pioneer •

August 22, 2008

Clayton Community Calendar PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR CLAYTON COMMUNITY CALENDAR EVENTS BY 5 P.M. SEPT. 3 FOR THE SEPT. 12 ISSUE. FAX TO 672-6580 OR E-MAIL EVENTS & ENTERTAINMENT AUG. 23 Dogs for Diabetics Open House 2 - 6 p.m. featuring a Silent Auction will be held in the Nylabone Training Center at 1400 Willow Pass Court, Concord, (located in Willow Pass Business Park off Hwy 4. Use Willow Pass Rd. and Evora Rd., Concord for electronic mapping instructions) Light refreshments will be served. AUG. 25 Diablo Valley Masterworks Chorale Auditions @ DVC 7:00 p.m., Diablo Valley Masterworks Chorale continues auditions for all voice parts for its Nov. 22 performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Requiem" and Walton's "Belshazzars Feast" in Walnut Creek. The chorale will perform these works with full orchestra. Rehearsals are Monday evenings at 7:00 pm from Aug. 25th thru Nov. 15. For more info or to schedule an audition, send email to:, or call 925-228-8690 with questions. Website: Diablo Valley College, 321 Gold Club Road, Music Dept. Building, Room 101, Pleasant Hill. AUG. 25 - SEPT. 28 Willows Cabaret Presents "Pump Boys and Dinettes" A good "old-timey" country and western musical set in Frog Level, NC. Music and lyrics by Jim Wann. Directed by Chris Blisset. The cabaret style theater with tableside service is located at 636 Ward Street in downtown Martinez. Tickets $20-30. Show Times: Wednesday's and Thursday's at 7:30 p.m., Friday's and Saturday's at 8 p.m., matinees on Wednesday's at 3:30 p.m., Saturday's at 2 p.m., and Sunday's at 3 p.m. Contact (925) 798-1300 or THROUGH AUG. 31 Local Voice: Defining Community Through Art, @ Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek 12 - 5 p.m. Tuesday – Sunday, 6 - 8 p.m. Thursday – Saturday. This exhibition offers an overview of the best and most compelling art, in all media and genres being created by artists living in Contra Costa County. For additional information, visit online at or call 295-1417. Bedford Gallery, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek. THROUGH SEPT. 14 Little Shop of Horrors @ the Willows Theatre, Concord From the composing team that created Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid comes this hilariously bloodcurdling musical comedy abut an R&B singing plant bent on world domination. A hip girl-group trio, great songs, and true love set the backdrop for a tuneful show that the whole family will love! For tickets contact the box office at 798-1300 or online at Willows Theatre, Willows Shopping Center, Concord. THROUGH OCTOBER Clayton Farmers Market, Downtown Clayton Every Saturday from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. The Clayton Farmers Market, by Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association. The Clayton Farmers' Market brings the very best of California-grown fruits, vegetables, greens, and nuts to downtown Clayton. Treat right downtown! Diablo Street, Downtown Clayton. Sept. 8 Marketing Small Business Workshop @ Clayton Community Library 7-9 p.m. A free workshop, "Absolute Fundamentals for Marketing any Small Business, Product or Service" will be presented by Rick Hanson, M.B.A., Owner of Master AIDA for all your presentations. Learn to evaluate and control marketing opportunities. Acquire access to the best resources. Sponsored by the Contra Costa Small Business Development Center. To register: call (925) 646-5377 or email zaziz@Contra SEPT. 9 The Art of Retirement @ Loma Vista Adult Center, Concord 7 – 9 p.m. The course is five weeks in length and costs $18 for people 55+. Course topics include how to keep the money you have, health, travel, longterm-care insurance, volunteering vs. working part-time, and more. People of all ages and situations are welcome. For more information on the class, please call instructor George Fulmore at (925) 686-6916. Loma Vista Adult Center, 1266 San Carlos Ave., Concord. Call (925) 937-1530 for registration info. SEPT. 13 Moonlight on the Mountain (Save Mount Diablo) 6 - 10 p.m. Save Mount Diablo will host its seventh annual "Moonlight on the Mountain" on Saturday, September 13, 2008. This special, one-of-akind event for 500 guests includes drinks and hors d'oeuvres, silent and live

auction, elegant sit-down dinner, and live music. "Moonlight on the Mountain" takes place outdoors on a flat plateau next to the dramatic rock formations of China Wall, with a spectacular view of undeveloped rolling hills and the summit of Mount Diablo-all under the light of the rising moon. Tickets available through the Save Mount Diablo Office at 925-974-3535. Advanced RSVP Required.

CLUBS & ORGANIZATIONS AUG. 23, SEPT. 13 Scrabble Club @ Carl's Jr. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Club meets the second and fourth Saturday of the month. All ages and skill levels. Prizes and contests. We have grown from six players to a roster of sixty in a year's time. Just $2 to play for the day. Carl's Jr., 1530 Kirker Pass Road, Clayton. AUG. 24, 31, SEPT. 7, 14 Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting @ Clayton Community Church 7-8 p.m. AA Big Book Study every Sunday night. 673-9060. Clayton Community Church, 6055 Main St., Clayton. AUG. 25, SEPT. 1, 8, 15 Toastmasters Club @ Aegis of Concord 7 p.m. Meetings are held every Monday at Aegis of Concord. Visit to see what Toastmasters do that builds confident communicators and leaders. Membership is open to all adults. Bring a friend. Call Carie at 682-7211 or go to Aegis of Concord, 4756 Clayton Road, Concord. AUG. 25, SEPT. 1, 8, 15 Al-Anon Family Group Mtg. @ St. Martin's Church 7:30 - 8:30 p.m. Due to construction at St. Bonaventure’s Catholic Church the Al-Anon family group will change location until construction is completed. Meetings are every Monday. If you are concerned about someone else's drinking, Al-Anon Family Groups can help. For further information, please call (925) 274-6770. St. Martin's Church, 5294 Concord Blvd. 0.1 miles off of Kirker Pass Rd. on your left. AUG. 26, SEPT. 2, 9, 16 Kiwanis Club of Walnut Creek 12-1:30 p.m. every Tuesday. All are invited to check us out and be our guest for lunch. Call Sam Totah at 941-1536. Massimo's Ristorante, 1604 Locust St., Walnut Creek. AUG. 28, SEPT. 4, 11, 18 Rotary Club of Clayton Valley Concord Sunrise @ Oakhurst 7 a.m. every Thursday. Meeting includes breakfast and usually features a speaker. Visit www. or call Chuck Graham at 6897640. Oakhurst Country Club, 1001 Peacock Creek Dr., Clayton. AUG. 28, SEPT. 5, 11, 18 Weights Watchers Meeting @ Contra Costa Farm Bureau Building 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursdays. Weekly Weight Watchers weigh-in and meetings. Call 800-326-8450, x 2023. Contra Costa Farm Bureau, 5554 Clayton Rd., Concord. AUG. 28, SEPT. 4, 11, 18 Contra Costa Chess Club @ Starbucks, Clayton 7:30 - 10:30 p.m. every Thursday. The Contra Costa Chess Club welcomes chess players of all ages and skill levels, and we provide instruction and materials for beginners. We are governed by the USCF Rules of Chess, and it's coffeehouse chess at its best. There is no cost to playing in or joining the club. Contra Costs Chess Club meeting at Starbuck's, 1536 Kirker Pass Rd., Clayton. SEPT. 2 Knights of Columbus @ St. Agnes Church Hall 7:30 p.m. the first Tuesday of the month. We look forward to seeing our brother Knights at the general membership meeting of the Knights of Columbus Concord Council 6038 of Concord and Clayton. St. Agnes Church, 3478 Chestnut St., Concord. SEPT. 3 Diablo Valley HLA (Hearing Loss Association) 7 p.m. Meetings are the 1st Wednesday of the month in the Education Building at the rear of the Walnut Creek Methodist Church property at 1543 Sunnyvale Ave., Walnut Creek. Bev Hawley will speak about the recent National Convention held in Reno, Nevada. SEPT. 4, 18 Rebekah's @ Mt. Diablo Lodge, Concord. 8 p.m. All are invited to come and be our guest for a meeting and dessert.

Rebekahs are actively involved in civic and philanthropic efforts on the local and international levels. Meetings are the first and third Thursday of the month. Come check out our organization. For information call Carmen Frank at 925-672-5045. 4349 Cowell Road, Concord. SEPT. 7 Knitting Club @ Concord Library 2-4 p.m. the first Sunday of the month. Have you noticed that knitting is all the rage? Join the group and get creative. 646-5455. Concord Library, 2900 Salvio St. SEPT. 8 Contra Costa Blue Star Moms CA Ch #20 Social/Support Meeting 6:30 p.m., 2nd Monday of the month.@ Countrywood Clubhouse. Bring a drink for yourself and finger food to share if you would like.Blue Star Moms have sons and daughters in uniform.For more information visit our website at Countrywood Clubhouse, 1706 Countrywood, Ct., Walnut Creek. SEPT. 9, 23 Odd Fellow's Meeting @ Pacheco Lodge #117, Concord 3 p.m. Meets every second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Odd Fellow’s are actively involved in civic and philanthropic efforts on the local and international levels. All are invited to come and be our guest for a meeting and dessert. For information call Herb Meeks at (925) 682-7358. Pacheco Lodge #117, 4349 Cowell Road, Concord. SEPT. 10 Clayton Valley Garden Club 7 - 9 P.M. Meets the 2nd Wednesday of each month at Diamond Terrace, 6401 Center St. in Clayton. Contact Dorothy Bradt at 672-2526 with questions. SEPT. 13 8:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. Concord Terrapins Swim Team Sign Ups Sign ups for Terrapins Swim Team for the 2008/2009 swim to be held at the Concord Community Pool on Cowell Road in Concord. Sign up for either the fall season or year-round swim teams. The Swim team is also holding an E-Waste Drop Off for electronics, appliances, car batteries, cell phones etc. at no charge. For more information, contact the Terrapin office at 680-8372 ext. 204 SEPT. 14 Walnut Creek Historical Society Antiques and Collectibles Sale 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. The Walnut Creek Historical Society Antiques and Collectibles Show and Sale, at the Shadelands Ranch Museum, 2660 Ygnacio Valley Rd., Walnut Creek. The Sale features antiques from Northern California Antique dealers. Free parking available with all proceeds to benefit Walnut Creek Historical Society. For more information, contact the Shadelands Ranch Museum at 935-7871. SEPT. 15 “Make Your Mark Intensive Visual Arts Program for Teens” Civic Arts Education offers intensive visual art program for high school students at Civic Arts Education. Interested students should send applications and portfolios to the Shadelands Art Center, 111 N. Wiget Lane, Walnut Creek, CA 94596 by Monday, Sept 15. The new session is on Friday’s from Oct 10 - Jun 5 from 4:40 - 6:30pm Fees are $575 for 35 sessions including field trips and Saturday workshops. Contact Doug Rowe at 943-5899 Ext 471 or email with questions regarding portolio submission.

BUSINESS & GOVERNMENT AUG. 26, SEPT. 2, 9, 16 County Board of Supervisors @ County Administration Building 9 a.m. Tuesday mornings. or 335-1900. County Administration Building, 651 Pine St., Room 107, Martinez. AUG. 26, SEPT. 9, 23 Clayton Planning Commission @ Clayton Community Library 7 p.m. The coommission meets the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. or 673-7304. Clayton Library Meeting Room, 6125 Clayton Road. SEPT. 2, 16 Clayton City Council @ Clayton Community Library 6 p.m. The council meets the first and third Tuesday of the month. Agendas posted at city Hall, 6000 Heritage Trail. Clayton Community Library Meeting Room, 6125 Clayton Road.

Clayton Community Recreation Certificate of Completion. 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Sept. 28, Oct. 26, Nov.23, $69/non-residents, $49/Clayton residents. Kids Night Out: Bring the kids down to the Clayton Community Gym for an evening of fun while you have a night out on the town. Children will enjoy crafts, games, movies and dinner while you are worry-free knowing they are in a safe and friendly environment. Dinner and snacks are provided. 6 - 10 p.m. Sept. 20, Oct.18, Nov. 15, Dec. 20, $25/non-residents, $20/Clayton Residents.

TThe YMCA is offering a variety of summer camps at the Clayton Community Gym. For registration information, visit or call 8891600. SPECIALTY CAMPS Babysitter Training: This class teaches babysitting skills including feeding, diapering, playing with and caring for children. Participants also learn to respond to emergencies while babysitting. Upon successful completion, participants will receive a YMCA



CA Lic. #531028, Est. 1987

(925) 672-2460 Serving the Clayton community for 20 years. Clayton resident All work guaranteed.

SPORTS CAMPS Youth Flag Football: This league will focus on teamwork and sportsmanship while participants learn fundamental football skills, which include passing, catching and play execution. Player positions are rotated every game. No special equipment required. YMCA sports emphasize fun, fair play, skill development, teamwork and self-esteem. All participants play at least half of each game for all sports. The games are coached by parent volunteers and are

refereed by YMCA staff. 1 – 4 p.m. Sept. 21 – Nov. 19, Sundays, $125/non residents, $100/Clayton residents. Adult Men’s Basketball: Show off your skills in the YMCA Men’s 5 on 5 Basketball League. This is an eight week season that meets once a week for a game. At the end of the season a playoff will be held to find the winner of the league. League winners will receive championship jerseys. Cal Jacob Duncan for team fees 925/692-2362. 4 – 10 p.m., Sundays.

Don’t let tax credits evaporate Check into all tax credits for which you might qualify. Because some tax credits are reduced or eliminated entirely once your income reaches certain limits, be aware of the phase-out income thresholds for the credits that affect you. With some minor adjustments to your income and deductions, you might be able to salvage all or part of a valuable credit. 700 Ygnacio Valley Rd., #360 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 (925) 937-5200 (925) 937-5202 fax

August 22, 2008

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 19

It’s not a green tomato – it’s a tomatillo


Smith & Bernal





The tomatillo (toh-mahTEE-oh), a luscious green round orb available year-round, is at the peak of freshness right about now. Often mistaken for an unripe tomato, a distant relative it resembles, the tomatillo is also known as a husk-tomato, jamberry, or ground cherry in English, or as tomate de cascara, tomate de fresadilla, tomate milpero, tomate verde, or miltomate in Spanish. European explorers discovered that the Aztecs and other indigenous people of Mexico and Guatemala ate tomatillos even more often than the tomato. Investigators have since discovered that the tomatillos were domesticated about 3,000 years ago. Today, although they are a significant export crop from Mexico, locals consume almost as many wild forms of tomatillos as cultivated ones. The tomatillo is a fruit more commonly used in the kitchen as a vegetable. Those with a yellow color tend to be more ripe, while green tomatillos are firmer and easier to slice. They all taste slightly acidic with a hint of lemon. The paperlike husk (calyx) is removed for cooking and the natural sticki-

ness on the skin eliminated with a good washing. The dense, highly seeded flesh makes it perfect for raw and cooked sauces. When cooked, the tomatillo breaks down into a soupy consistency but interestingly a natural substance in the fruit causes the resulting sauce to thicken when chilled. It’s a nutritional powerhouse. With only 11 calories, a medium raw tomatillo is full of potassium, vitamin C, folic acid and vitamin A. In recipes, the tomatillo is often used to tame and balance the heat of chilies. Raw, it provides crunch in fresh salsas and guacamoles. The following two salsas (Spanish for “sauce”) are great with fresh tortilla chips, fajitas, quesadillas and roasted meats. TOMATILLO SALSA ½ lb tomatillos, husked and washed 1 jalapeño, stemmed and partially seeded ½ onion, coarsely chopped 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped 2 tsp salt 1 c cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped 2 limes, juiced Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until well-combined but still slightly chunky. Serve with fresh tortilla chips or along side fajitas or quesadillas. ROASTED TOMATILLO SALSA 8 tomatillos, husked and washed 2 poblano chilies 1 onion, thickly sliced Vegetable oil for brushing vegetables

2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped ½ c cilantro leaves, chopped 1 lime, juiced 1 Tbsp honey Salt and pepper Preheat broiler or barbecue grill. Brush tomatillos, chilies and onion with vegetable oil and broil/grill until vegetables are lightly charred. Place poblanos in a brown paper bag and allow to steam for 15 minutes. Remove from the bag and carefully remove the charred skin, stem and seeds. Place prepared poblanos and all other ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until well-combined but chunky. Add salt and pepper to taste. For an unusual but wonderfully tasty pasta or enchilada sauce, pair tomatillos with walnuts in the following recipe. WALNUT TOMATILLO SAUCE 2/3 c walnut pieces 1½ lbs tomatillos, husked and washed 1 fresh poblano chili, roasted and peeled 1 Tbsp vegetable oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 small onion, diced fine ½ tsp ground cumin 1 tsp salt ¼ tsp pepper 1 c half-and-half Grind walnuts in a food processor until powdery (be careful not to overwork into a nut butter). Chop tomatillos and roast and peel the poblano chili. Heat medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil and add tomatillos, poblano, pepper, garlic, onion, salt, cumin and pepper. Cook until the vegetables seem tender (about 10 minutes).

Add half-and-half. Whisk in walnut powder, a small amount at a time, then cook for another 10 minutes to let the flavors marry. ENCHILADA SUIZA SAUCE 1 lb tomatillos, husked and washed 4 Anaheim or Hatch green chilies 1 white onion, sliced 3 cloves garlic ½ c chicken broth 1 Tbsp vegetable oil 2 tsp cornstarch ½ tsp white vinegar ¾ c half-and-half Stem, seed and chop chilies; chop tomatillos. Place in saucepan and simmer together for 10 minutes. Puree. Add raw onion, garlic and chicken broth to puree and process until smooth. Heat saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil. When shimmering, add puree and cook for 10 minutes. Mixture should be slightly reduced. Combine cornstarch, vinegar and half-and-half. Stir into the tomatillo sauce and cook until thickened and bubbly. Serve over chicken enchiladas and top with shredded cotija or Monterey Jack cheese. NOTE: Nob Hill/Raley’s markets will soon be advertising New Mexican Hatch chilies. Run—don’t walk—to the store and swoop up a big bagful, roast, peel and freeze in 1 cup portions in your freezer. Yummmmm! Linda Wyner, a local attorney and foodie, owns Pans on Fire, a gourmet cookware store and cooking school in Pleasanton. Direct your suggestions or questions to

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Produce, from page 1 vegetable stand and sell the remainder of the vegetables. Michael thought it was a good learning experience. “She learned how to talk to people,” he said. “She learned how to handle money and give change.” “I decided that any money I made would be put into a college bank account,” Katie said. Although she knows it could take a long time, considering she earns about $10 after three hours of selling. “It was Americana,” Michael said. “A safe, wholesome activity that was not hurting anyone.” The family was even featured in the June 2006 issue of Black Diamond Living magazine in an article about families growing their own food. CODE COMES INTO PLAY In a letter dated June 18 from the city of Clayton, the

family was informed that “while the concept of allowing your children to sell or perhaps give away homegrown produce on your property ... may appear on first glance to be an innocuous activity that the city should support and formally approve ... the city’s code is quite clear about not allowing certain activities in a residential zone that may change or violate the ‘residential’ character of that zone.” Part of the problem, the letter explains, is that the outside display or storage of goods is not permitted. “It is a complex issue,” said city manager Gary Napper. The merits of the family vegetable stand aside, Napper said the city codes are the law that are in place for the betterment of the city as a whole. Since a complaint had been filed, it needed to be examined in light of the codes that were in

existence. “I did tell them that they should talk with the Planning Commission to see what could be done,” he said. “And Mr. Lewis did so.” “My daughter asked me what to do,” Michael said. “I told her that it was up to her.” “I told him I wanted to fight it,” Katie said. “It’s not fair and it’s not right.” NEIGHBORS AT ODDS Following a meeting with city planner David Woltering on Aug. 12, the Planning Commission agreed to examine the operation further. Next door neighbor Jim Chwandt, who has lived there since 1975, sides with the family. “Twenty years ago, this would not have been an issue,” he said. Chwandt, who has a “little patch of vegetables” himself, went before the Planning Commission on behalf of the Lewis family. “Here you have a small Saturday and Sunday affair,” he said, “a few hours,

flowers, melons and a couple of young girls having a great learning experience.” Others disagree, claiming that the level of activity constitutes a business located in a residential zone. The residential code states that only interior home businesses may operate. Michael takes the argument personally. “As a kid, I walked past this house every day on my way to school,” he said. “Back then it was overrun with oleanders and you couldn’t see the road.” Along with wife, Jenny, and their daughters, he put a lot of effort into cleaning up the landscaping before planting. The Planning Commission has scheduled a public discussion for Aug. 26. “This will be a study session,” Napper said, explaining that it would allow a full study of the issues, both positive and negative, as well as obtaining input from the public before deciding the next step. Any code changes that need to be made would have to be approved by the City Council.

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Page 20

Clayton Pioneer •

Amateur astronomers share an abiding passion for the stars

Patty Flannery


Your local neighborhood REALTOR since 1986

As president of the Mt. Diablo Astronomical Society, Clayton resident Nick Tsakoyias hosted “Public Night” atop Mt. Diablo on Aug. 2. The club, formed in 1957, was part of the national “Moonwatch” program designed to track satellites in order to establish accurate orbital information. Jack Borde founded the society and within months, Sputnik was launched by the Soviet Union – starting the nation on a space race. Society members did all the construction of the observatory with funds donated by local businesses. Back then, American satellites were expected to travel west to east and would cross the field of somebody’s telescope. The MDAS Website explained: “When the satellite

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André Gensburger/Clayton Pioneer

CLAYTON RESIDENT NICK TSAKOYIAS’ telescope is programmed with 15,000 object locations.

disappeared behind the mast, the observer was supposed to yell, ‘Mark!’ into the microphone of a tape recorder; on the same tape was dubbed a running time signal from a National Bureau of Standards WWV radio station. The observer was also supposed to note disappearance of the satellite out of his field of view and to make a sketch of the path it made. “Working from the time of ‘Mark!’ and the sketch, the team leader was able, with a little high school trigonometry, to make out a report giving altitude of the crossing, time of crossing and apparent angular speed.”

André Gensburger/Clayton Pioneer

TOM HARRIS looks through the dual lensed telescope that he built.

VARIETY OF VIEWS Behind the lower summit parking lot, the MDAS observatory is located in a shed almost 15 feet long and just less than 6 feet high. Within, a 16-inch Cassegrain telescope is driven by computer-controlled motors and powered by a computer Sky program with a memory chip that holds 155,000 celestial object locations. Borde has the roof slide open with mechanical motors, allowing the telescope within to point skyward. “I can show you a different object every 4 seconds,” Borde tells visitors to the observatory. “All night long,” he continues,

“and we would never run out.” There is more than $250,000 invested in the observatory facility. MDAS members bring their own telescopes and are considered docents of Mt Diablo. Tsakoyias brings his 5-inch refractor telescope that has been programmed with 15,000 object locations, although he manually moves the telescope itself, guided in direction by the program. “I have to align it on two stars first and then the unit calibrates,” he explains. He selects Polaris as one of the stars, then chooses another.

See Astronomy, page 21

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Insects offer hands-on lesson in conservation JEANNA ROSS Clayton Pioneer

Giant African millipedes, grasshoppers from the Everglades, beetles from the Mojave, Australian and Malaysian walking sticks and hissing cockroaches from Madagascar have all descended on the Clayton Library. The Insect Discovery Lab is an educational outreach program presented by San Francisco’s These harmless creatures travel around the Bay Area, giving patrons the opportunity to see up close and personal – the kinds of populations they can help rescue by participating in conservation efforts. “The darkling beetle represents just one of the 400,000 species of beetles, compared to only 10,000 bird species or 4,000 mammals. By seeing these insects up close, students learn that there is more to be discovered,” said co-founder Norman Gershenz. “They can save a place in nature and eventually go to that spot. They actively know there is a place on the planet they’re saving.” Four-year-old Bailey Kessinger of Clayton was among those who enjoyed the insects at the library. “Bailey has been interested in bugs since she was 2 years old,” said her grandfather, Bob Beitler. “She enjoyed the Insect Lab since she got to hold real bugs. From the size of the bugs, holding them was a brave thing to do, something not even all the adults could do.” Beitler also liked the program. “The best part about the program was that the insects were unique.” SAVING ECOSYSTEMS The program is not just a petting zoo. The Insect Discovery Lab is only one working cog in the much larger machine that is

Gershenz had been working for the San Francisco Zoo for almost 20 years when he was challenged by field researcher Daniel Janzen to change his focus from breeding individual species in captivity to saving entire ecosystems.

$3.5 million has been raised to protect 11 million acres in 10 different countries, including Costa Rica, Guatamala and Brazil. “We’re starting to work in Africa to help create a 1.6 million acre national park in

Photo by Bob Beitler

BAILEY KESSINGER, 4, gets up close and personal with guest bugs at Discover Insects at the Clayton Library.

Gershenz then worked with renowned entomologist Leslie Saul to create the Adopt an Acre and Adopt a Reef programs, which create protected habitats in threatened areas. Funds are raised partially by the invention of the Conservation Parking Meter, which accepts spare change donations from patrons at zoos and aquariums nationwide. “It’s active. Anyone can participate,” he said. According to Gershenz, 230 million people visit zoos and aquariums in this country. “If we had a quarter from everyone, we could protect habitats around the world. Twenty cents saves 90 square feet of rain forest. We can save the habitats, make sure they’re protected, and then we can go study them there.” Today, 138 zoos and aquariums participate in’s efforts, assisted by many schools, universities and private organizations that provide funding. Gershenz said

Namibia, a stable country with stable population,” he said. The group works with many organizations, including the Nature Conservancy, natural history museums and botanical gardens. “At all our sites, we strive to work with the local populations to foster community involvement,” he noted. The Insect Discovery Lab is an integral part of what Gershenz hopes to accomplish. “Placing insects in the hands of students creates another level of connection beyond what kids can see in a zoo or aquarium. We believe it is an intimate link necessary for people to save nature. “It says: ‘It’s true. You can do it today.’ We hear so much now about global climate change, but it’s intimately connected to all the work we’ve done for 20 years,” he added. “By saving these valuable ecosystems, we may just save ourselves.”

For more information, visit

August 22, 2008

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 21

Where are they now?

Olympic discipline carries forward for Dobratz JEANNA ROSS Clayton Pioneer

When happens after we see the beaming faces atop the Olympic podiums, with gleaming medals and tears of joy? Where do these amateur athletes go after they have spent up to 12 hours each day training for this moment? In 2004, Erin Dobratz McGregor chose to simply walk away. McGregor was a student at Stanford when she took a year off to prepare for the 2004 Olympics. She competed in Athens as a synchronized swimmer and brought home the bronze. Afterward, she took a month off. “I was waterlogged, overtrained,” she said. “I knew I wanted to focus on school and graduate, so I got my degree in communications and became a project manager for CNET. It’s not at all what I expected to be doing, but I love it.” BONDING MOMENTS McGregor’s most treasured Olympic memories involve neither pool nor podium. “We met athletes from all the other countries. We rode the same buses to training and ate in the cafeteria. There was real bonding within the U.S. team,” she recalled. “We kept pushing each other, knowing we should take it in because it would never happen again.” The synchronized swimming team competed late in the games, so they watched many go before them. “It was hard to see people

not do well. We were good friends with the cycling team, and they didn’t get where they wanted to be. That was really hard, but then they took all that energy and made it positive,” she said. “On

Photo by David Gonzales

FORMER CLAYTONIAN ERIN DOBRATZ MCGREGOR retired from swimming after taking a bronze in synchronized swimming in 2004.

the other side, there were Michael Phelps and all these athletes you see on TV on the bus to the village with their medals. Seeing them really pumped us up and made us think, ‘If they can do it, so can we.’ ” Looking back, she feels good about the experience. “I love all the friendships I made with my teammates and all the bonding we did.” BYSTANDER FOR BEIJING Watching the 2008 Beijing Olympics was a unique moment in time for McGregor. “It’s really neat to see people go through that same experience, knowing all the time and years of training

Astronomy, from page 20 DRAWING A CROWD A group of about 200 visitors has come up for the demonstration. Tsakoyias said yet another group was in Yosemite, on Glacier Point, for the club’s public night there. Yosemite holds a raffle drawing determining when groups may attend. Tsakoyias was surprised as many people came to this event since it was MDAS’s turn at Yosemite. Although he notes: “1,200 people came for Comet Kohoutek.” The drive up the hill is about 30 minutes and, once there, the gates are locked. Visitors may only exit in a caravan several times during the evening, led by a docent who holds the combination to the lower gate. Campers on the mountain have somewhat more freedom. As the sky darkens, the docents and their telescopes, about a dozen in all, of varying size and shape, prepare to show

that they’ve gone through. It’s over in a matter of seconds or minutes,” she said. “We’ve been emailing with the 2008 team and it’s neat to hear their feelings,” she added.

the visitors different celestial objects. Most have laser pointers that allow them to target a star in the dark with a sliver of light from their hand as they explained the various details of the object. SHOOTING FOR THE ‘WOW’ Lance Schlichter of Alamo is a club member who does outreach programs to various area schools. He tries to target when the science classes are doing a solar system unit and brings about 10 people with telescopes. “My personal goal is to get a ‘wow’ out of a 14-year-old,” he said. “We got 16 of them when the students were watching Jupiter.” Tom Harris of Antioch took a couple of lenses from cameras, added binocular eyepieces and joined the whole thing together on a stand resembling the face of the Pixar robot Wall-E. The members come from a wide variety of day jobs.

“That’s the thing about being in the Olympics – it really takes one to know one.” She doesn’t regret her decision to retire from the sport. “All I feel is relief to be done. It takes so much dedication and time that it amazes me that people in our sport can continue on beyond one Olympics.” Her athletic training has carried on to her personal life. “When you’re swimming, going to school and trying to manage a personal life, you have to be able to balance everything, which I do today, though I have much less to organize,” she said. “I also learned teamwork. In synchronized swimming, you have to be

“I’m a banker,” said Steve Jacobs, who has been coming for 10 years. “I’ve always loved the night sky. I am the ultimate science geek.” “Tonight, we take a trip around the triangle,” Tsakoyias said. The summer triangle consists of three stars, Deneb, Altair and Vega. Within the journey lie nebulas – there are a lot of nebulas – globular clusters and double stars. There is also Jupiter, rising brightly in the night sky, so clear that you can see some satellites. “This is the heart of our Milky Way,” Tsakoyias said. “When young people get the ‘wow,’ it might inspire them to be the next (Albert) Einstein or (Stephen) Hawking or (Carl) Sagan,” he added. “It opens up curiosity and makes them ask a whole lot of questions.” The next public night will be Sept. 6. The program, which starts at 6:30 p.m., focuses on our nearest galactic neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. For additional information, call 6953134 or visit


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on the same wavelength with people, which has really taught me how to communicate. “In my personal life, it’s really put a perspective on what’s important. I’ve reached my goal and now I can move onto the other things I want to do in life.” TIME FOR MORE DECISIONS One major personal accomplishment was her April 2008 marriage to her most ardent fan, Eric McGregor. “He’s really proud of me. He was in Athens with my parents and we went out to dinner with my family after the medal ceremony,” she said. “He wouldn’t let me take off my medal or the laurel wreath. He’s always been like that.” She is still deciding where to go from here. “I spent so many years focused on me and my goals. For 13 years, I didn’t have to make any decisions; everything was planned out for me,” she said. “Everything changed after the Olympics and I’m still kind of in that position. I want to give back. I’ve thought about coaching – something with kids.” This Olympic season, McGregor was content to root for the U.S. teams from home. “I like them all!” she said as the synchronized diving competition was shown on the television behind her. “I’ll watch anything where people work for something they’ve been training for their whole lives.”

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Page 22

Clayton Pioneer •

August 22, 2008

Extend your living space onto the deck NICOLE HACKETT

GARDEN GIRL Walking onto the deck at Bob and Gloria Whittaker’s Easley Estates home is like stepping into a welcoming garden. Gloria’s passion for plants and flowers has grown from the ground and up the steps and planted itself into urns, tapered pots and hanging baskets. They all adorn the large redwood deck. She calls it deckscaping,

creating a garden room on a deck, and the results are extraordinary. The deckscape began with the desire to have something beautiful to gaze at while indoors. The living areas of the home look out to the backyard, so this was a great opportunity to create magic. The deck that Bob built had an overhang supported with posts, a surrounding railing and three sets of stairs down to the lawn area. The deckscape began by embellishing these points of interest. Spectacular container combinations filled with simple, showy plants are positioned

around the deck’s floor. Upright fuchsias blooming with deep pink and purple, traditional impatiens, cobalt blue clumping lobelia, snowstorm bacopa and vinca minor cascade over several containers’ rims. They are piled around the overhang’s supportive posts, strewn along the house wall, dotted on either side of the stairs and stand on pedestals here and there to add more height to the container arrangements. Hanging baskets dangle beneath the overhang, bringing your eyes up. These are quite attractive and successful – filled with creeping jenny, zonal geraniums, more fuchsia, California

Photo by Nicole Hackett



with a carefully planned deckscape and attractive outdoor furniture.

small-leafed ivy and duck-foot ivy. Gloria sprinkles annuals like vinca and pansies in her hanging baskets for pops of bolder color. The Whittakers have grown children, grandchildren and many friends. Their deck is used for lots of entertaining, so garden furniture was needed to enhance their outdoor enjoyment. Iron dining furniture sits to the side. The vineyard motif along the backs of the chairs and the sides of the table is another quaint detail. Extra sitting is found in a couple other areas. Under the garden window you’ll see a three-piece sitting area, made up of two chairs and a side table. It’s perfect for sitting and watching the hummingbirds, which visit all day long to dine on the feeders. A pretty container of flowers sits on the table as a centerpiece. Adjacent to the dining set stands another three-piece vignette. This is used for additional seating during dinner parties. Gloria accessorized this area with statuary and a formal ivy topiary, enhanced with piles of impatiens. Statuary is place throughout this deckscape, just like you will find in any garden. Butterflies personify Gloria’s feelings toward nature. They have always represented growth and beauty to her. For almost twenty years, the butterfly was the symbol used for Gloria’s floral business, Nature’s Design Florist, and now she enjoys them daily in her deckscape. Cherubs and angels made out of concrete, stone and resin perch on the railings, stand on

Photo by Nicole Hackett

GLORIA AND BOB WHITTAKER bring drama to their deck with containers and hanging baskets of simple, showy plants.

tables and kneel next to tapered pots and urns. A carved stone facing the sliding door reads “Who’s luckier than us?” This family really appreciates what they have – family, friends and flowers. Deckscapes need work, just like a garden. Each day, there is a plant that needs to be deadheaded or fluffed. Bob keeps up on all the fertilizing and irrigation. He tracks his care with a garden calendar. He uses watersoluble Miracle Grow every month and Romeo multi-purpose granular fertilizer for longterm feeding. The Whittakers feed and water a lot. They realize the demands they put on their plants and feed accordingly. “If you fertilize, you’ll be rewarded,” Gloria says. “The plants produce better, stay greener and look better.” Watering of this deck garden is all done automatically. Drip irrigation is used everywhere from the hanging baskets to the

urns, even along the spiral plant stand filled with assorted ferns in the corner. The deck’s railings have piles of foliage planted beneath them, giving the deck a cozy feel, almost like a short wall. Luckily for the Whittakers, their home faces east so the morning sun allows them to grow lush hydrangeas. Being surrounded by hydrangeas is a wonderful feeling. Deckscaping is great on a patio as well. It brings the garden closer to the home. Container plants are easy to maintain. The soil is nicer to dig in, and looking out onto plants is comforting. Embrace outdoor living. It can be a lovely extension of your home. Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden Contact her with questions, comments or suggestions at

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AUG 22 Clayton Pioneer 2008.pdf  

See Produce , page 19 investigation but is not considered to be suspicious in nature. Ifreaders want to donate to the asso- ciation to repla...

AUG 22 Clayton Pioneer 2008.pdf  

See Produce , page 19 investigation but is not considered to be suspicious in nature. Ifreaders want to donate to the asso- ciation to repla...