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January 9, 2009


Flag flies at half-staff for slain soldier TAMARA STEINER Clayton Pioneer



Reflections on a successful ‘08 For Clayton residents, 2008 was a milestone year. We opened our new Grove Park on Jan. 12 and it’s been busy ever since. The park has fulfilled our dreams and become the heart of our historic downtown. It’s bringing families together as kids meet their parents in the park after school. Warm summer nights found hundreds of us eating and relaxing to music in The Grove. Skipolini’s Pizza even made deliveries to the park – awesome! Did any of you notice the mysteriously placed Santa hats on the children in the circle on Christmas Day? Fun. At the Jan. 6 City Council meeting, we reviewed concerts plans for next summer. We operate on a lean budget of just $20,000 for the entire summer, and the cost is shared equally by the Clayton Business and Community Association and our economic development fund. Also in 2008, Moresi’s Chophouse opened in our downtown and we welcomed Sam Sandhu back after a long absence at the rebuilt and updated Village Market. He’s actively looking for a ground floor retail tenant on the Center Street side. Flora Square is just about ready for the economy to rebound and has tenants lined up for several spaces. Plans are in process for the new Rivulet project to be built across from Endeavor Hall. The Royal Rooster on Diablo Street is a great place to go when you need a unique gift or card for anyone – even yourself! Fulfill your new year’s resolution to get in shape at the new

See Mayor, page 14

Tamara Steiner/Clayton Pioneer

A SMALL GROUP GATHERED AT THE FLAGPOLE DOWNTOWN on New Years Day as veterans of the VFW Post 1525 lowered the flag to half-mast to honor Pvt. Ben Tollefson who was killed in Iraq on Dec. 31. In foreground, VFW Ming Hanson, Tollefson’s mother-in-law Cecelia Hartley, VFW Pete Laurence, father-in-law Ed Hartley.

Clayton bids farewell to 2008 with free family event TAMARA STEINER Clayton Pioneer

Tamara Steiner/Clayton Pioneer

CITY MANAGER GARY NAPPER had as much fun as the kids during the karaoke sing at Clayton Counts Down where he stood in as stage manager.

What’s Inside Around Town . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Book Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Church News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

Classified . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Community Calendar . . . . . . . . . .15 Deal With It . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Directory of Advertisers . . . . . . . . .5 DVMS Reporter . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

If there’s one thing Clayton really knows how to do, it’s throw a party. Art and Wine, summer concerts, tree lighting, July 4 Oktoberfest and, for the sixth year, Clayton Counts Down on New Year’s Eve all draw hundreds, sometimes thousands, from Clayton and beyond The alcohol-free, family event started at 6:30 and was jumpin’ by 6:40. An estimated 1000 revelers chowed down on hamburgers and hot dogs, popcorn and cookies donated by Clayton’s Cookies by Design and slurped sodas, coffee and hot chocolate. Dozens of kids did what everyone does when the karaoke machine is fired up – they got up and sang. In the crafts room, table after table sparkled and glittered with pipe cleaners, sequins, feathers and ribbons as young

Food for Thought . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 From the Chief . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Garden Girl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Letter to the Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Movie Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

hatmakers feverishly worked on their their creations for the Crazy Hat contest. In a smaller room, a cut-throat game of musical chairs was getting close to the finish and in the big gym, kids worked off their sugar-highs in the bounce house. Finally, it was time for the Crazy Hat judging. It was tough, said Councilman Joe Medrano, in his official capacity as a hat contest judge. “It’s not fair to make us pick just one,” he laughed. “These are all great.” Samuel Maytum, 7, walked away with first place in the Under 10 division. “We’ve been working for days, “ said mom, Veronica. “We got up this morning working on the hat.” With its complex arrangement of balloons and pipe cleaners, Samuel’s hat looked like it

See Around Town, page 2

Obituary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 On the Net . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Pets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Safety Zone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

The war in Iraq came bitterly close to home last week when Pvt. Benjamin Tollefson, husband of Natalie Hartley Tollefson and son-in-law of Ed and Cecelia Hartley was killed in action on New Year’s Eve. The soldier was assigned to the Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Heavy Brigade Company Team, 1st Infantry Division when his unit was attacked by insurgents in Ghazaliya. He was just 22 and the father of 8-month old Mac James. The community reacted with shock and sadness as word of the family’s loss quickly spread. A small group gathered quietly in the fog on New Year’s morning at the VFW flagpole on Main St. while the American flag was lowered by veterans to half-mast. The scene was repeated the next morning at the VFW hall in Concord. The governor ordered the flags in the state capitol lowered and issued the following statement: “Maria and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Private Benjamin Tollefson, who dedicated his life to protecting the ideals of this country. He was a true patriot and his service to our country will never be forgotten. On behalf of all Californians, we send our thoughts and prayers to Benjamin’s family, friends and fellow soldiers as they mourn this loss.” By Friday afternoon, the networks were beginning to call, eager for the details that were still unavailable. “Information just doesn’t flow over there like it does here,” explained the Major Desiree Soumoy, the Army’s Casualty Operations Officer. “And, they’re fighting a war.” The family is well known in the community. Natalie works downtown for local insurance broker, Joe Medrano and was a student member of the city’s Community Services Commission. Ed Hartley is on the Planning Commission. Ben and Natalie, both 2005 graduates of Berean Christian High School, were high school sweethearts. They were married Dec. 6, 2007. Ben enlisted on Aug. 15, 2007 and was stationed at Ft. Riley, Kan. “He wanted to be in the Army for a long time,” Hartley said. “He wanted to be a soldier. He was a good man.” Ben was officially listed as a private, but was due to be promoted to Private First Class on Jan. 1. He was deployed to Iraq in October out of Ft. Riley, Kan. Natalie has been living with her parents since his deployment and was planning to move to the base in April to wait for his return. Ben will arrive at Buchanan airport under military escort on Thur., Jan. 8. There will be a viewing open to the public at Ouimet Bros. Funeral Chapel, 4125 Clayton Rd., Concord on Fri., Jan 9, from 5 - 9 p.m., with a brief service by the Veterans of Foreign Wars at 7. A full military funeral will be Sat., Jan 10, at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, 80 Lacassie Ave., Walnut Creek. Burial will follow at Golden Gate National Cemetary, 1300 Sneath Lane in San Bruno. A memorial fund for Ben and Natalie’s son, Mac James, has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank, Kirker Pass Office, Account Number 5815378889. See obituary on page 6.

Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Tech Talk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Travel Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Weather Words . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 What Really Matters . . . . . . . . . . .4

Page 2

Clayton Pioneer •

January 9, 2009

Around Town Clayton Counts Down for 2009 at family event from page 1 might go airborn at any minute. “Anything is Possible,” an imaginative four-person hat by the Moghbel and Schoell sisters won first place in the Over 10 division. Ariana and Roxana Moghbel and their best friends, Kristina and Melissa Schoell, each came up with her own hat design. It was Ariana’s idea to tie the four together with garland and enter as one. “We didn’t want anyone to feel bad if they didn’t win,” she explained. By 9:30, the excitement was over and everyone except the clean-up crew had gone home.


Clayton Counts Down is sponsored by the city of Clayton. The free event is funded with donations from local businesses Pictured clockwise from far left: 1. An imaginative four-person hat took the Over 10 division in the Crazy Hat Contest. Ariana Moghhel in “Bunny Ears,” Kristina Schoell in “Cat in the Hat,” Roxana Moghbel in “Monkey Islands,” and Melissa Schoell in “Party Animal;” 2. Peggy Bidondo and granddaughter Brooke worked their way down the crazy hat crafts table; 3. U10 Crazy Hat Contest winner, Samuel Maytum, 7; 4. Bob Steiner dishes up while Joan Manniing and Craig Johnson stock the grill; 5. The Wells siblings Cooper, 7, Abbey, 12 and Katie, 10 and Scott Rodriquez, 7, put the finishing touches on their “crazy hats.”



Photos by Tamara Steiner and Steve Pierce.

Cynthia West to marry Kristofer Kendrick Cynthia Lynn West and Kristofer Michael Kendrick have announced their engagement. They plan to be married on Aug. 15 at Spindletop Hall in Lexington, Ky. The bride-to-be is an administrative account assistant at Preston-Osborne and lives in Lexington. The 2005 graduate of Clayton Valley High School wrote for the Clayton Pioneer as a student. She graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2008. The groom-to-be is a graduate student at Shenandoah University and lives in Winchester, Va. He is a 2001 graduate of Belfry High School and a 2007 graduate of the University of Kentucky. Cynthia’s parents, Debbie and Neal West, live in Foothill Ranch. Kristofer’s parents, Debbie and Mitchell Kendrick, reside in Lexington and Decherd, Tenn.





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January 9, 2009

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 3

Around Town City employees honored at annual dinner When Ed Bryce went to the city of Clayton annual dinner last month, he knew he would be receiving his 20 year service pin. But, what he didn’t know was that the City Manager’s Employee Achievement Award and a standing ovation and would follow. Bryce joined the city of Clayton maintenance department in July 1988 and has been working on the city’s landscaping and infrastructure since. “He’s kind of like the ‘unsung hero’ of the city,” says City Manager Gary Napper. “When you want something done with no complaints just go to Ed.” When he isn’t installing, fixing, pruning or mowing something, he oversees the workers sent to Clayton by the county sheriff ’s department under the Work Alternative Program. He sees real value in the program. “They seem to have a little more respect, more responsibility when they leave us,” notes Bryce, who plans on at least another six years with the city

Police dispatchers’ act of generosity helps make a happy Christmas for local family Police dispatchers serving both Clayton and Concord made a difference in the lives of the Groebner family of Clayton with a Christmas gift to help the family through some difficult times. Katie Grace Groebner, 6, suffers from pulmonary hypertension and had recently been rushed to the hospital due to an infection in the line feeding medication directly to her heart. Tracey Downing, the police dispatcher who spearheaded the effort to raise money for the Groebner family for Christmas explained their motivation. “I saw the article on about Kate Grace and I was amazed by the story of Katie Grace, as well as what the people of Clayton were doing.” Downing explained that the police department usually works with the city to adopt a family in need over the holidays, however with the Groebner family they

André Gensburger/Clayton Pioneer

TRACEY DOWNING is one of the Clayton/Concord Police dispatchers who spearheaded the effort to give Katie Grace Groebner a special Christmas.

wanted to do more. “We all talked about it together,” Downing added, “and decided to do something for her.” The “something” mentioned was an envelope of gift cards to

Photos by Tamara Steiner/Clayton Pioneer

ED BRYCE received the City Manager’s Employee Achievement Award

before he retires. Also honored at the dinner were several members of the police department with peervoted recognitions. Police Department Coordinator Lynn Christ was voted Employee of the Year. Last year, Christ received the City Manager’s Achievement Award. She is probably best known for organizing and coordinating the city’s Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) program. Richard McEachin was named Officer of the Year, Russ

POLICE DEPARTMENT Employee of the year, Lynn Christ.



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Eddy received Reserve Officer of the Year, Matt McLaughlin was honored as Explorer of the Year. The Volunteer of the Year award went to Jim Webb, who provides administrative support to the department for several hours a week. Webb is one of the original volunteers with the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program which is going into its third year in Clayton. “We’ve really become reliant on him,” says Chief Dan Lawrence.

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What’s happening Around Town? Photo courtesy of the Groebner family

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different stores, one for Katie Grace, one for her sister Savanha, and one for the family as a whole. “The girls got cards to the Limited Too stores,” Kathy Groebner, Katie Grace’s mother, reported. “They love to play dress up. Tracey had contacted me while we were still in the hospital. That was so nice of them to do that. The girls were happy.” In addition to the gift cards, the girls also received new bicycles from the fire department, and had a visit from Santa Claus while still in the hospital. Kathy Groebner is grateful for all the support given to her family from the community. “I’m glad that we were able to do this,” Downing said of the dispatcher’s gift. “Katie Grace was the perfect person for it.” Katie Grace was released from the hospital shortly before Christmas, although she had to return there Christmas Eve due to a blockage in the temporary medication line. She returns to Stanford for a new Broviac medication line Jan. 15 and the family hopes that the ongoing treatments will keep Katie Grace’s pulmonary pressure lowered. - André Gensburger

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Page 4

Clayton Pioneer •

January 9, 2009

Park, Town Center, concerts take center stage in 2008 TAMARA STEINER Clayton Pioneer

January The long awaited downtown park opened. The one-acre parcel at the corner of Main and Marsh Creek Roads was purchased with redevelopment money in 1999 for $500,000, but it wasn’t until 2006 that Clayton voters approved funding for operation and maintenance. Described as “Clayton’s crown jewel,” the park is anchored by a redwood gazebo donated by the CBCA and features the “Circle of Freedom,” a life-sized statue of children playing Ring Around the Rosy by Utah artist Gary Price. In late January, the Village Market re-opened after being seriously damaged by fire in

2004. The store was closed for four years while owner Sam Sandhu sued Farmers Insurance, successfully settling the suit October 2005. Known locally as “The Blue Store,” the market now is tan in color in compliance with the Town Center design requirements.


The city named Uzoma Nwakuche as the developer for the two parcels on Oak Street across from Endeavor Hall.

Faced with possible changes in creekside set-back requirements that could potentially render the land useless for development, Nwakuche and the city will expedite the project in order to get the building permit issued before July of 2009 when it’s expected that the Regional Water Quality Control Board will act on the changes. The two-story project will add more than 15,000 square feet of retail space to the Town Center. February The City Council approved changes to the Town Center Specific Plan, eliminating such uses as meeting halls and theaters and requiring new development to be two-story, groundfloor retail. The amendment sparked controversy because of

With a slowing economy, it’s time to take stock of values


WHAT REALLY MATTERS Gordon Gekko, a character from the movie “Wall Street,” preached that “Greed is good.” No, it’s not. In the movie, just as in real life, the avarice on Wall Street teaches a painful lesson. We are now pointing a lot of fingers at the corporate overlords for getting us into this mess. But the truth is, many of us have not shown much restraint either. We’ve been living dangerously high on the hog for a long time. Studies reveal the average American saves less than one percent of his or her annual income. Believe it or not, that is actually an improvement from where we were in 2005 when, on average, we spent more money than we earned. Compare that to the savings rates of other industrialized nations. The French and Germans save about 12 percent, the Japanese save 20 percent and the average wage-earner in China socks away 24 percent of each year’s pay. We were getting away with it for awhile, with plenty of goodpaying jobs, rising stock prices and home values going through

the McMansion-sized roof. No harm, no foul. But suddenly, poof! Millions of people have lost their jobs and can’t find new ones, Wall Street has dropped 6,000 points in a year – taking our 401Ks along for the ride – and, as for the price of our homes, it’s hard to even talk about that. Now, sadly, the chickens that we bought with our tapped-out credit cards are coming home to roost. The endless pursuit of more stuff has left the average American household with nine credit cards carrying $16,000 in debt. And there’s no federal bailout plan in the works to save us. There is an even darker side to our bottomless appetite for consumerism, which we saw demonstrated so grotesquely at a Wal-Mart in New York state recently. An employee was crushed to death by a stampeding herd of day-after-Thanksgiving shoppers rushing out of control for holiday bargains. Across the country, there have been a number of shootings at malls, and retailers are being forced to beef-up security. A bad economy can bring out the worst in people. Not that we deserve any of this. But perhaps, if there is a silver lining to this financial disaster, it might refocus our priorities. Living with less, perhaps even a degree of sacrifice, might make us stronger – individually and collectively. It did for the so-called “greatest generation” of Americans. They survived a far direr financial crisis in the Great Depression. The men

went off to Europe to fight the Nazis while the women took their reins on the home front. Then together, they rebuilt the country after the war. My grandmother used to talk about government collections of anything families had that was made of metal, which was needed for the war machine. She also told of growing and raising their own food and washing clothes by hand with lye soap they made themselves on the farm. Admittedly, times are going to have to get a whole lot tougher before I start making my own soap, but surely we could find ways to tighten our belts and do with a little less. These are very difficult days in this country, but we’ve had many that were far worse; the Civil War, Great Depression and World War II are the obvious ones. Americans had the grit to survive those periods of our history, and I believe we are capable of measuring up to the same standard for the crisis of our time. The austerity our faltering economy is forcing upon us may ultimately bring us dividends that, at the moment, are difficult to anticipate. So as we stare down this recession and the rising anxiety it brings, let us try to keep in mind that what really matters is what we stand for, the time we spend with those we care about and what we contribute – not what we own. Dan Ashley is an anchor at ABC-7 News and can be seen weeknights at 5, 6 and 11 p.m. on ABC7 and at 9 p.m. on KOFY-TV20.

Clayton Community Church’s stated plans to build a worship center on the 1.66 acre parcel next to their office on Main Street. The church was relying on the pre-amended TCSP which listed places of assembly as an approved use of Town Center land when they purchased the lot in 2007. March Staff Sgt. David Bryant was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroism in combat and returned home to Clayton after 15 months of “boots on the ground” duty in Iraq. City Manager Gary Napper appointed David Woltering as Community Services Director, replacing Jeremy Graves who left on March 31 to take a city planner position for the city of Sausalito. Woltering came to Clayton from the city of Cotati, where he was director of planning for seven years. April Lenox Homes completed Mitchell Creek Place behind Endeavor Hall. The “pedestrian friendly,” nine-home development added to the changes at the west end of town. May May was a huge month for downtown Clayton. The Pacific Coast Farmers Market came to town in response to the promise of increased business from the crowds drawn downtown by the park. And business boomed as customers filled every table at Cup O’ Jo, shopped for gifts at The Royal Rooster and lunched at local eateries. The vendor booths ran the length of Diablo Street between Main and Center on Saturday mornings through October and plans to be back in 2009. On May 23, Three Dimensions Plus One filled the air with the sounds of jazz and blues as the first of the summer



Photo by Sue Elliott

JANUARY: The Downtown Park opens went a major facelift with new playgrounds, barbeques and shade covered picnic areas, including a covered group area that seats 120. The $350,000 project was completed in time for the July 4 weekend. July Construction began on a 590-ft. stone retaining wall to replace the crumbling wood wall along Marsh Creek Road. The project was plagued with delays. The biggest hurdle was a huge telecommunications cable running parallel to the street. When the contractor started digging, he discovered that the cable wasn’t exactly where he expected it to be, requiring a major redesign of the wall which was completed in November. August August saw the beginnings of an issue that would hit the major networks the following month. A vegetable stand, operated by two young girls at the corner of Pine Hollow and Mitchell Canyon, was shut down by the city after a neighbor complained. The stand came under the municipal code section which designated it a “commercial activity” and was in violation of city law. Following a couple of spirited public hear-

runs from May through September

concert series opened in the Grove. Music lovers began to gather early with baskets and bags stuffed with picnic fare. The series, co-sponsored by the CBCA and the city of Clayton, ran 14 Saturdays through September 20, with some of the summer concerts drawing an estimated 1,800-2,000. June Clayton Community Park, on the hill behind the gym, under-

ings, the veggie stand stayed closed and the Council asked the city staff to come up with some recommendations for amending the municipal code to deal with neighborhood commerce. Eight candidates announced their intentions to run for the three open City Council seats. Over $400,000 in Clayton’s Redevelopment Agency money fell victim to the state’s growing

November Incumbent Julie Pierce, Joe Medrano and Howard Geller were elected to the City Council. Pierce took over the mayor’s seat from Gregg Manning who, along with Bill Walcutt, retired from the council. Clayton Community Church moved ahead with plans to build a church in the Town Center. At an Open House in November the church presented a conceptual design for a mixed used project which includes 14,000 square feet of retail/commercial space in addition to a 500-seat church. The project carries an estimated price tag of $6-$8 million. Shawn Robinson, CCC’s pastor, expects to apply to the city for a use permit sometime in 2009. Approval will require an amendment to the TCSP to add meeting halls back to the list of approved uses in the town center. December Retiring council members Gregg Manning and Bill Walcutt were honored at a “roast and toast” party at Oakhurst on Dec. 4. Manning served on the council for 22 years, Walcutt for 11.

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October Clayton Valley High School celebrated its half century mark with an exhibit of memorabilia at the museum, a float in the annual Homecoming Parade, and an alumni football game followed by a dinner were among the activities. The CVHS Hall of Fame inducted 16 athletes from as early as 1961. The Clayton Bocce Federation asked the Redevelopment Agency to consider using public money to fund a bocce park on the parcel next to the city’s maintenance yard. The city is leasing the land to the Federation for $1 a year. Initial bids for building the bocce courts range from $580,000 to $1.6 million, much higher than originally anticipated by the Federation. The issue was held over for the new council’s consideration in January.

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January 9, 2009

Clayton Pioneer •

Letter to the Editor

Page 5

Directory of Advertisers Auto

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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 , Sales and Administrative Support C HRISTINA S CARLOTT , Administrative Assistant We remember 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

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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.

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 300 words or less 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.

I would like to express some thoughts on the Clayton Community Church plans for downtown. The design is very much in keeping with the idea of Clayton’s western heritage. I do, however, have some concerns. First of all, I object to the proposed development on the grounds that the plan will have to have an amendment passed to the TCSP on the development. To me, this is saying that to go forward with the CCC plan, we have to change the rules to let them do this. Another thing that I am unsure about is the stated plan to “consider” selling off the 11,000 sq. ft. of commercial building to help pay for the remaining development. First of all, 11,000 sq. ft. is

Classified RENTALS South Lake Tahoe Vacation Rental Great location, sleeps 6 to 8 comfortably. Pictures and home details can be found at Still have questions, call Debbie Hansen at (925) 766-8961 House in Pleasant Hill 2Bd/2Bth, fireplace, AC, big yard with patio, quiet, includes W/D and refrigerator. No smokers, No pets. $1400/month. For more information call Jeff 925-687-1213

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Diablo Automotive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .288-0981 Mike's Auto Body . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-1739 Construction and Trades Belfast Plumbing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .457-5423 Insite Design and Build . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .980-0465 Granelli Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .858-3866 Michael Dwyer & Sons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-3980 S&K Nellis Painting, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .687-2233 Smith & Bernal Roofing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-0138 Straight Line Imports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .335-9801 Tipperary Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216-2679 Dining and Entertainment Clayton Club Saloon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .673-0440 La Veranda .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .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 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .627-2648 Doug Van Wyck - State Farm Insurance . . . . . . .672-2300 Richard Littorno - Attorney at Law . . . . . . . . . . . .672-6463 Thomas J. Miller, CPA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 354-1385 Travis Credit Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .800-877-8328


Fit 2 the Core . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1-888-542-CORE Funerals Ouimet Funeral Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .682-4242 Home and Garden Abbey Carpet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .686-9901 Alise Interiors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .988-9990 Appliance Repairs by Bruce, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2700 Clear Splash Pool Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216-6245 Floors to Go Danville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .820-8700 Lamorinda Floors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .284-4440 Navlet’s Garden Centers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .681-0550

Real Estate Agents Be Successful! Lynne French is expanding and interviewing for a few agents. Call her today (925) 672-8787.

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 Pleasant Hill, CA– Make a Difference at a Hospice Thrift Shoppe Volunteer at one of the Hospice Thrift Shoppes located in Alamo, Danville, Walnut Creek, Concord and Antioch. You will have the opportunity to help customers, stock shelves and prepare merchandise for sale. Thrift shops are an inexpensive way to find old treasures or vintage clothing, but for the volunteers in our thrift shops, it's a way to make a difference in a meaningful way."

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.

Nichols Landscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9955 Pans on Fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .600-7267 Son Bright Window Cleaning Service . . . . . . . . .674-9455 The Maids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .798-6243 Utopic Gardens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .524-0055 Welcome Home House Cleaning . . . . . . . . . . . . 584-5980 Window Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-1930 Mailing and Shipping The UPS Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-6245 Postal Connections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .524-9030 Medical Services Children's Dentistry of Walnut Creek . . . . . . . . . .938-2392 Personal Products and Services Beautique . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-0405 Betsy’s Hair Affair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-3800 Quit Your Job & Work From Home . .877-336-8369 x 4712 Rosebud . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1-888-476-7328 The Healing Hut . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .685-6710 Pet Services Aussie Pet Mobile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .800-738-6624 Cat Hospital of Clayton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2287 Monte Vista Veterinary Hospital . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-1100 O’Brien Family Pet Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .899-7354 Peace of Mind Pet Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9781 Rodie’s Feed and Country Store . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-4600 Real Estate and Mortgage Services 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 Village Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 657-5065 Village Oaks Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .408-371-8770 x 19

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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 6720240 and leave your name.

FREE CANS of Merrick Five Star Dog Entrees 1 FREE 13.2 oz. Can with 5 lbs. bag 3 FREE 13.2 oz. Cans with 15 lbs. bag 6 FREE 13.2 oz. Can with 30 lbs. bag

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Vujnovich, George - Better Homes Realty . . . . .672-4433 Recreation Clayton Valley Bowl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-4631 Diablo FC Soccer Academy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 798-GOAL Oakhurst Country Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9737 Senior Services Diamond Terrace Senior Retirement Living . . . . .524-5100

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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.

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not a great deal of retail space. As I see it, the main 500 seat building will be built first and everything else will remain unbuilt, until funds become available. In this economic climate, that could be years from now. Meanwhile, Clayton would have an empty 500 seat church, extremely crowded parking situation, and little to no retail or commercial development. I do not know of too many churches in Northern California that can fill a 500 seat auditorium. The (miniscule) downtown that is Clayton does NOT need this size facility. The plan, has accounted for 74 parking spaces. Planning to use “public parking” for the remaining 96 spaces is just NOT feasible. What about those existing businesses and their needs for parking? -Rory Richmond

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:

Services, Other Concord Disposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .943-0180 Shopping Cegielski Jewelers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .682-2855 Clayton Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .673-3325 Computers USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9989 Donna's Quilting Loft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-0401 Seasonal Reflections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-4425 Sonset Flowers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .685-8200 The Royal Rooster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2025 Travel Cruise Adventures Unlimited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .935-7447

Page 6

Clayton Pioneer •

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PFC Benjamin Bryan Tollefson of Concord, 22, beloved husband, father, son, brother and friend, died while serving his country in Iraq. He was loved by all who knew him and leaves behind many, many friends and family. Ben is survived by his wife, Natalie (Hartley), his eight month old son, Mac James, his parents, Charles and Mary Tollefson, sister Jaime Tollefson, brother Jeffrey Tollefson, grandparents Jeff and Nancy Tollefson, and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Ben was born on Nov. 7, 1986 in Pittsburg, Calif., the youngest of three children. He was a 2005 graduate of Berean Christian High School in Walnut Creek. In August 2007, Ben joined the United States Army, fulfilling a dream and a passion he had had for several years. He

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married his high school sweetheart on Dec. 6, 2007. Ben was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas and completed his training there. His son, Mac James, was born on Apr. 28, 2008. Ben deployed to Iraq in Oct. 2008. He leaves us with many wonderful memories of a sweet, loving, little boy to a caring, compassionate and very funny young man. His dedication to his family and his country was commendable. He will be sorely missed. A memorial fund has been established for his son, Mac James, at Wells Fargo Bank, Kirker Pass Branch, 5431 Clayton Road, Clayton, California 94517. Account No. 5815378889. See front page of this issue of the Clayton Pioneer for funeral arrangements.

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Not long ago, all the terms and conditions of a residential purchase agreement could fit easily onto one piece of paper. Now we’re drowning in paperwork. Unfortunately, this excessive proliferation of paper has led many buyers to pay little attention to it. It’s overwhelming, often incomprehensible, so why bother? Some say we are heading toward the paperless real estate transaction. If so, we have a long way to go. In the meantime, it’s wise to face reality and pay close attention to the documents related to your home sale or purchase. There are a few rules to remember in regard to the paperwork. First, you should receive a copy of every document that you sign during the course of your real estate transaction. If your real estate agent or loan agent fails to give you a copy of a document you’ve signed, be sure to

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REAL ESTATE ask for it. Also, make sure you understand what you’re signing. If you don’t, ask your real estate agent or attorney for an explanation. Many real estate agents employ transaction coordinators to help with paperwork. Some agents offer to provide you with a nicely organized copy of all the documents pertaining to the transaction when your deal closes. However, don’t wait until clos-

these documents may prove useful later when you sell the property. At the least, you should keep copies of the complete purchase agreement (including any modifications), disclosure documents, inspection reports, title policy, policy of title insurance, and work-related invoices and permits, if there are any. If you are buying a home, make sure you receive a copy of the recorded deed that transferred title to the property from the seller to you. In our area, the recorded deed of trust will be sent to you after closing. Look it over and check for any mistakes before filing it away. 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.

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ing to receive copies of pertinent documents. Make sure you receive copies of documents at the time they’re signed. Real estate agreements need to be in writing in order to be enforceable. If you enter into verbal negotiations during the course of your transaction, make sure to follow up and have any agreement you reach put into writing. If you have a dispute, the written agreement signed by both buyer and seller may be your only defense. You will receive documents a few at a time throughout your transaction. It’s a good idea to set up a transaction file so that you can store all of these in one place. In addition, you should keep important transaction documents even after the transaction closes. These documents will be necessary if you should have an afterclosing dispute with the other party. If you are a buyer, some of





Identity theft continues to be the fastest growing crime of the 21st century. ID theft has become a story of numbers: millions of victims and billions

of dollars lost nationwide. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report earlier this year indicating that 8.3 million U.S. residents were victims of ID theft in 2005. During this past year, the Clayton Police Department received 23 reports of ID thefts from Clayton residents. Advancements in electronic communications make it easier for thieves to do their job of stealing personal information from us. Because of this continuing and growing criminal phenomenon, I felt it was prudent to review ID theft in terms of what it is and what we can do

about it. ID theft is simply the unlawful taking of personal information, including credit card account numbers, Social Security numbers, bank account information or any other personal information that can be used by the criminal to steal money, services, credit, goods, real property or anything of value. The person who takes your personal information is guilty of theft. In order to prevent ID theft, all of us should do whatever it takes to protect our personal information. These preventative measures include shredding all credit applications, protecting your mail, keeping an eye on your credit card when paying for dinner, gas or anything else, requesting a freeze on your credit reports and asking to review your credit report at least once a year. Even the most cautious consumer can be affected by a hacked system, a burglarized office or information accidentally exposed to outside agencies. Failing to receive credit card statements, being denied credit or receiving credit cards you did not apply for could be signs of ID theft. If you discover that your personal information has been stolen and you believe you are a victim of ID theft, there are four recommended steps to help you recover from ID theft: 1. Victims should place a fraud alert on their credit

reports by contacting one of the three nationwide credit reporting companies – Equifax, Trans Union or Experian. The company that is notified will alert the other two. They will also explain how to request a free copy of a victim’s credit report. 2. Compromised accounts should be closed immediately. Once the credit reports have been received, they should be reviewed for other accounts that might need to be closed. 3. The ID theft should be reported to the FTC at or by calling 1-877-ID-THEFT. Victims should bring a copy of the completed, printed online complaint form to their local law enforcement agency. 4. A police report should be filed. Victims should ask the officer to attach a copy of the FTC complaint form to the police report. The process of recovery from serious ID theft is not easy and can be lengthy. However, by taking the time to accomplish these easy steps, a victim of ID theft will have the necessary foundation and information to recover. If you have further questions about ID theft, call the Clayton Police Department at 673-7350.

Dan Lawrence is Clayton’s Police Chief. Please send your questions, comments or topics you’d like to see covered to

January 9, 2009

Clayton Pioneer • www.claytonpioneer .com

Page 7

Claytonians optimistic about 2008 ANDRÉ GENSBURGER Clayton Pioneer

After the hardships of 2008, Claytonians are optimistic that 2009 will bring some hope. Arseen and Jolene Soliman pondered the new year while enjoying a sunny New Year’s Eve afternoon at The Grove with family. “I’m optimistic,” Arseen said. “I think change was inevitable and …” “Overdue,” Jolene added. “Definitely overdue. I think the president has a huge job in front of him,” Arseen continued, “and he’s probably the best guy for it.” “I don’t think it is going to be immediate,” Jolene said. “I think it is going to take a long time.” Frank and Kerry Carsgall, also from Clayton, agreed that change was good. “Are you kidding me?” Frank asked. “We couldn’t have survived more of the same. I have no doubt that the economy will pick up, in part because of the new leadership.”

Karylee Masone is worried that people will have an unrealistic expectation of the incom-

ing president. “Things are not good and I don’t know that one man can fix it.”

André Gensburger/Clayton Pioneer

JOLENE AND ARSEEN SOLIMAN of Clayton enjoying the last day of 2008 at The Grove

Sat. Jan

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She believes Barack Obama made a good first impression, getting things in place with his new administration so as to not waste any time. Arseen hopes to see new development in the downtown area. “The slump in the housing market has hit Clayton as well as the rest of the country,” he noted. As for signs of recession during the recent holiday rush, many were uncertain. “I did most of my shopping online this year,” Jolene said. “I did notice that the deals were not as abundant as they were online.” “The crowds were still in the stores,” Kerry said, “but I heard on the TV that sales were down. We know the economy is not in good shape, but I think that things will get better.” “It seems to be another cycle,” Karylee said. “Didn’t we do this before? The bad times remind us about the good times and vice versa. I’m not sure if we really learn anything since the cycle continues.”

. 10

tainmen t

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Jan. 9, 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Shawna Lynn Jan. 16, 17 . . . . . . . . . . . . .Bollinger Station Jan. 23, 24 . . . . . . . . . .Gerald and the Aces Karaoke Every Wednesday Night

Dealing with the weight of the new year and the promise to come ANDRÉ GENSBURGER

DEAL WITH IT The holidays have taken their toll; I notice that my pants do not fit so well after the festivities leading up to the first time

I write the wrong year on a check in 2009. This was not entirely unexpected. Having knocked back a few holiday truffles while convincing myself that one more could not possibly do any further damage than those consumed just minutes before and having allowed myself the extra serving of ham, the generous

portions of freshly mashed potatoes and the thick hot chocolate that somehow accompanied the earlier eggnog, I now find the gravity of the new year impacting my lifestyle. Many Americans resolve to lose weight after the holidays. Given the throngs attacking the malls for the post holiday sales, one would think it’s an excellent

Dump your old electronics at two free E-waste events in Pittsburg Got new gadgets for Christmas? Don’t know what to do with your old electronics? Get rid of that old TV, monitor, computer, microwave and other electronics at a free e-waste recycling event. The community e-waste disposal is a monthly event held the third Saturday of every month, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg. The next dates are Jan 17 and Feb 21. Electronic waste, commonly referred to as e-waste, is a serious environmental issue in California. Each year, Californians dispose of more than 500,000 tons of e-waste such as TVs, monitors, computers and other devices and gadg-

What: When: Where: Phone: Website:

FREE E-Waste Disposal/Recycling Event Sat., Jan. 17 and Feb. 21, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Los Medanos College, Pittsburg Parking Lot 2A next to baseball field 2700 East Leland Rd., Pittsburg (866) 335-3373 (for event info) (for event info and state-required form)

ets. Electronic items contain hazardous materials such as lead, cadmium, barium and mercury. Improper disposal contaminates our waterways, roads, and air and becomes harmful to humans, pets and our environment. All e-waste items collected are recycled by a state-approved Bay Area e-waste recycling com-

pany, where the items are broken down to their primary components, such as metals, plastic, glass, etc. These components are then reused into making products such as cars and other electronic equipment For a complete list of items accepted or for more event information,, go to or call (866) 335-3373

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time to kill two birds with the one stone. Not so. Mall food kiosks detract from the success of that plan as effectively as the half-off signs destroy the shopper’s resolve to spend no additional money. Don’t get me wrong; I like sales as much as the next person, but honestly, do you really need to stock up a few hundred Christmas tree balls now? Are they really that expensive and will you be saving more than you will spend replacing the ones that get smashed in the bustle of shoving Christmas decorations into the attic crawl space? I feel heavy. Sure I can stand straight and puff up my chest and pretend that a slab of ham is not floating freely in there somewhere, but the truth is that I notice the weight; I do not feel as carefree as before I endured this celebration. I had made a New Year resolution in 2007 not to make any subsequent resolutions, so I could hardly break that resolution simply to come up with another. Nonetheless, I swore to the god of food, once again, that I would never eat so richly again no matter the cause. Watching the television or reading the papers, this one

See Deal With It, page 16

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Page 8

Clayton Pioneer •

N ew Year y p p a H


Movie Review

Penn and cast carry heavy burden in ‘Milk’

Tues. - Sat.: 10-5 Sun.: 11-4


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Princess Alaska Show Jan. 13 at 7 p.m.

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January 9, 2009

In November, a California majority voted to deny their homosexual neighbors the opportunity to marry. As “Milk” reminds us, the fight for gay rights has been a long and arduous process, none of which has come easily. Director Gus Van Sant (“Good Will Hunting”) takes us back to 1970, when a young man called Harvey Milk was merely a working stiff in New York City. The film follows the arcs of Milk’s personal and political life in San Francisco, beginning with the simple act of opening a business in the Castro to being spurred into political action by systematic violence from the San Francisco police, a lack of response to hate crimes and a nationwide epidemic of anti-gay laws. Starring as Milk is the ridiculously versatile Sean Penn, whose total embodiment of the charac-

ter leaves no shadow of the sullen, angry personality who graced the pages of the 1990s tabloids. Penn has taken great acting risks in the last few years, but the vulnerability and sheer range of emotion he covers as Harvey Milk is surely the peak of his illustrious career. The supporting cast does nothing to steal the limelight from Penn’s performance, but they are truly the rock on which he leans. Closest is James Franco as Scotty Smith, Milk’s earliest lover and campaign manager. Their story provides the strongest personal moments in the film, from their initial subway pickup to their final reconciliatory phone call. While their romantic ties eventually sever, watch the joy in Penn’s face during the later moments when he receives Smith’s compliments. Franco has been an interesting character to watch these last few years. After his rise to fame in “Spider-Man,” it would have been simple to just ride the wave of his incredibly beautiful face, but he has balanced the prettyboy films (“Annapolis”) with meatier fare, like last year’s “The Valley of Elah.” He scores again with “Milk.” Though there are moments missing from the dramatic arc and some motivations seem unexplained, the problem is likely directorial. Josh Brolin brings home his

Spinella (“24”) and Denis O’Hare (“Changeling”), forms strong barriers on either side of Milk, either as supporters or opponents. Much of Penn’s role is reactionary, so their performances are essential to expository delivery and character development. It is through their first-rate performances that we see the force of Milk’s influence and the rise of his star. “Milk” clocks in at 128 minutes, but the plot is such a roller coaster ride of emotion that it feels like mere moments. There is laughter, of course, but there are also tears – so many tears – of happiness, of elation, of grief, of frustration, of pride. Filmed almost entirely in San Francisco, “Milk” is a piece about our home, our fight. Thousands of residents volunteered as extras and entire sections of the city were closed down in order for this story to be told. We need to be reminded how much people have already sacrificed before we dream of allowing civil rights to be defeated now. Amazing things can be accomplished by one ordinary person with the guts to stand up and be heard. 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

second major performance of this awards season, this time as despicable politician Dan White. He is surprisingly sympathetic as the friendless, possibly closeted,


supervisor who is constantly at odds with Milk’s charismatic leadership. For those who were around when this drama played out, his actions won’t surprise. But Van Sant’s gentle treatment of scenes that could have otherwise been horrific allows everyone to retain their humanity and leaves our memories of Milk’s journey unsullied. The remaining cast, containing the likes of Emile Hirsh (“Into the Wild”), Allison Pill (“Dan in Real Life”), Victor Garber (“Alias”), Stephen

Beef up your Internet security with these free programs With 2009 upon us, it’s time to make sure your computer is ready to combat the threats that exist in cyberspace. Although viruses and spyware lurk throughout the Internet, I’ve found several easy programs that you can download to keep your data safe. Though no security program is perfect, these free programs are constantly on the lookout for the latest threats. In my experience, they perform comparably to Norton or MacAfee Antivirus. I protect my computer with Avast Antivirus, available at Besides being free, Avast requires little maintenance because you don’t have to manually check for new updates. Avast runs in the background all the time and automatically downloads virus updates. It will even announce, “Virus database has been updated,” when it finishes gathering dossiers of the latest perpetrators. Avast deploys digital shields over different parts of your computer. It can protect you against downloading viruses from your Microsoft Outlook account or


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programs can combat this threat. Although they are not as efficient as Avast and require you to check for updates manually, both do a good job at detecting and removing spyware. The first program is AdAware, available from Ad-Aware can scan your computer for potential spyware threats and neutralize them. It’s especially effective at removing tracking cookies, which are tiny files that follow your progress across the Internet and try to send you advertisements based on your search history. Unfortunately, Ad-Aware’s free version is not sufficient to handle all spyware threats. This is why I combine it with Spybot Search and Destroy, which you can get for free from It uses powerful scanning tools to search your computer for software that can hijack your identity. When it runs a scan, Spybot cross-references a database of more than 358,000 such files. Spybot uses an “immunization” tool to prevent spyware



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prevent harmful files from sneaking in through an Internetbased email services like Yahoo or Gmail. In addition, Avast will snoop about Web pages, instant messages and your network to stop intruders. Scanning for viruses can be done with just one click and will not slow down your computer. It works with all versions of Windows, including Vista, and also runs on Macs. When Avast finds something, it will make alarm sounds and tell you that it caught a virus. You can choose to try to delete the virus, ignore it (not a good idea) or quarantine it in Avast’s Virus Chest. Files placed in the Virus Chest are effectively frozen and will not affect your system. In addition to Avast, you may want to consider downloading anti-spyware programs. Spyware is software that secretly invades your computer and gathers information about you. While some kinds of spyware are harmless, the more malicious kinds are capable of stealing your personal information. When used together, two free

01/14, Wed. 7pm . .





from entering your computer. With one click, you can plug holes in Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer that may otherwise be doorways for bad programs. Although Avast, Ad-Aware and Spybot provide an effective alliance against nasty software, their job can be made easier if you surf the Web with safety in mind. Be wary of adult Websites or file-sharing programs, as they often contain viruses and spyware. Now that you’re armed with these programs, you can check another new year’s resolution off your list and not have to pay a nickel.

Mark Freeman is a student at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, studying economics and English. He enjoys creative writing and is a reporter for the school paper. Questions/comments can be sent to

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Scott Savage, YA author of, “Farworld - Book One: Water Keep” . . . .Komenar Publisher author event with Marc Paul Kaplan, “Over the Edge,” Alice Wilson-Fried, “Outside Child,” Laurel Anne Hill, “Heroes Arise,” Jon Cory, “A Plague of Scoundrels,” and Lee Doyle, “The Love We All Wait For”

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January 9, 2009

Clayton Pioneer • www.claytonpioneer .com

Page 9

Resolve to keep pets healthy in 2009 The following first ran in the January 13, 2006 issue of the Clayton Pioneer. Dr. Rymer will be back with a new article in March.

As we start another year, many of us reassess ways to improve our lives. While making those lists, make one for your beloved family pet as well. As you look at your own figure, also look at Fido’s and Kitty’s. Give them a Body Condition Score (BCS) on a scale of 1 to 5. No. 1 is very skinny and No. 5 is obese. No. 3 is just right, with an hourglass waistline and ribs that are easily felt. If your pet is a 4 or 5, it’s time to implement some changes. First eliminate most people food, especially those holiday sweets. Cut back on

dog treats, too. Raw carrots and vegetables for dogs are low in calories and help clean teeth. Then, switch their food to a light or senior variety, which will have 20 to 25 percent fewer calories than a maintenance diet. If already using a light/senior diet, consult your veterinarian. The vet may suggest blood work to check for metabolic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus and hypothyroidism, which may cause obesity. Expending more calories with increased walks and activities will help too, but be cautious not to push older, arthritic or frail pets too far. Consult your veterinarian regarding your pet’s physical condition and exercise. February is National Pet

Dental Health Month. Many veterinarians will have dental promotions and discounts at this time of year. So lift up your pet’s lip and examine those teeth. If you see brown plaque, red, receding gums, loose teeth or smell a bad odor, call your vet for an appointment to discuss dental procedures. Make dental care a routine. Set aside time to brush your pet’s teeth two to three times a week with toothpaste formulated for pets. Also offer chew toys or dental treats (in moderation – they have calories, too). Raw baby carrots can help clean teeth and cut calories. Scrutinize your pet’s coat. Are you able to keep up with your Lhasa apso’s long hair, or is he covered in mats? Is it time

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to consider a shorter, lowmaintenance cut? Check with your groomer about an easy care clip and how often it should be done. Set a routine time to brush not only your dog but also your cat. You will often find that

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 Diagnosis, treatment and surgery  Dental care  Dietary planning  Emergency services  Boarding and Grooming

See Rymer, page 11

Office Hours

Married vets enjoy the best of work and life ANDRÉ GENSBURGER Clayton Pioneer

Clayton residents Charles and Michele (Micki McCabe) Walls enjoy the best of life. They are married and work together as veterinarians in a multi-office facility in Concord, catering exclusively to dogs and cats requiring specialized care from hip replacement to liver shunts. They service more than 400 small animal practices across the Bay Area – almost all as referrals. “We actually were quite used to working together from the beginning,” Micki said. “We met as freshmen in vet school, got married two years later and worked as students, interns and residents together for seven years.” “We went to the Animal Medical Center in New York for our internship,” added Charles, who goes by Chuck. He came to Veterinary Surgical Associates in 1995, while Micki

André Gensburger/Clayton Pioneer

MARRIED VETERINARIANS MICKI MCCABE WALLS AND CHARLES WALLS balance work and life as they juggle two veterinary hospitals, two children, two dogs, two cats and two horses.

worked at Encina Veterinary. In 2004, she joined as a partner with him. TWO TIMES THE SERVICE What makes the couple so

interesting is the complexity of their business, which covers expansive ground in the field while remaining relatively unassuming. One facility is along the Monument corridor in

Milkshake and Hip Hop are ARF’s adoption stars

Concord, a two-story building that does little to herald attention. Two businesses operate under one roof, Veterinary Surgical Associates (VSA) and Veterinary Medical Specialists (VMS). VSA focuses on the surgical applications available today in veterinary medicine, while VMS serves as a general veterinary practice with a specialty in internal medicine. “At VMS/VSA, Chuck has Mondays off, home with the kids,” Micki explained, “and I have had a part-time position, allowing at least one of us to be home much of the week. It is always a struggle to balance work and home life, because I really like to be involved with our kids’ activities. I teach a class called PEP, Parent Educator Program, to the sixth graders at the middle school and referee soccer for MDSA.” According to Chuck, it’s a demanding profession. At the Concord facility, they have five surgeons, three internists and an oncologist – all for the animals they serve with specialized surgeries from hip replacements to complex trauma treatment. “Quite a few couples that

See Vets, page 13

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Milkshake is a sweet and lively young dog who is hoping to find a new family that will take her to training classes and be able to provide her with plenty of opportunities for mental and physical exercise. The adoption fee for adult dogs is $225 and includes a seven-week training class. Hip-Hop is a sweet fellow that loves to get attention. He may only have three legs, but he gets around just fine. Hip-Hop must be an indoor cat only. The adoption fee for adult cats is $50. 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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Page 10

Clayton Pioneer •

January 9, 2009

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I feel fortunate that I will be one of the millions in attendance at the historical inauguration of Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20. That opportunity presents me with more than a curious interest in what the weather will be like on that day, so an examination of previous inaugural weather conditions might provide some insight. Before researching this topic, I realized that finding official weather records would be difficult for events in the late 18th and early 19th century since that era pre-dates official government weather collection efforts. It was quickly apparent that even anecdotal information for mid-January inaugurations would be impossible to retrieve for two reasons – the early inaugurations weren’t in Washington, and until relatively recently, they weren’t held in January. George Washington’s first inauguration was held in New York City on April 30, 1789. The following two ceremonies were held in Philadelphia on March 4. That date, approxi-

mately four months after the election, was proscribed by the original Constitution to allow enough time for votes to be counted and the state electoral colleges to meet to officially determine the election winner. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson was sworn into office in the newly constructed nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., and post-election inaugural ceremonies have been held there ever since. March 4 was used as the ceremony date until 1937. The 20th Amendment to the Constitution changed the date to Jan. 20. Cold winter weather conditions are certainly more likely in mid-January than in early March. However, history also shows examples of nasty weather conditions during the March inaugurations, some with tragic consequences. William Henry Harrison was sworn in as president on a cold blustery day in 1841. Apparently he did not wear a hat or overcoat and caught a cold after appearing in the outdoor ceremony and parade.

His cold developed into pneumonia and he died in April. Twelve years later, heavy snow fell during the outdoor ceremony. Abigail Fillmore, wife of outgoing president Milliard Fillmore, developed pneumonia and died within a few weeks. The more recent January inaugurations have had a variety of weather. Sleet, snow and almost two inches of rain dampened the Franklin Roosevelt inauguration in 1937. Ronald Reagan’s 1985 ceremony was performed indoors because wind chill temperatures ranged from -10 to -20 degrees. This was a stark contrast to his first inauguration in 1981, when the noon temperature was 55 degrees – the warmest of the January events. Eight inches of snow was on the ground for the crowds that wanted to see John Kennedy become president. Four years ago, there was one inch of show on the ground, with near freezing temperatures and strong northwest winds.

WOODY WHITLATCH WEATHER WORDS The Washington weather service office has issued statistics describing the likelihood of specific weather events on Jan. 20. The normal high temperature for the day is in the low 40s, with a noontime reading of 37 degrees. There is a one in six chance it will rain and about a one in twenty chance it will snow on inauguration day, with a one in three chance snow will be on the ground from a previous snowstorm. Cold winds will likely be stirring since the average noon speed is 10 mph. It is too early to tell exactly what conditions will be like for the event. But I will be prepared for the worst, since my priority will be to stay warm and dry and enjoy a first-hand look at history being made. Woody Whitlatch is a meteorologist with PG&E. Email your questions or comments to

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Everyone wants their computer to run faster, do more in communications and add more features and applications. So it’s natural to consider spending some money on your computer system or simply buying a new one. The dilemma is whether to purchase a new computer and deal with migration problems from one computer to another, or upgrade your existing computer and get some more use from it. If you have already invested the money for a nice computer and the computer is just a few years old, why not extend the life of your existing computer with upgrades. This could be more compelling than shopping for new. You could buy a computer for $399.95, but I wouldn’t. Consider your personal time moving data, saving photos and files and setting up the computer the way you like it, only to be faced with reliability issues. It is simply a fact – too cheap means unreliable. The big-box stores carry mostly cheap computers. Dell and HP have some cheap computers, but they have nice ones

WILL CLANEY TECH TALK too. You would be better off ordering from a local builder or using the Dell or HP online services to order. Let’s assume your software is working well and you haven’t allowed your computer to become clogged with temp files, viruses, malware and hijacks. If it is clogged, clean it out before upgrading. When you’ve finished removing junk files, there is a big difference in the speed of your computer. Switch from Norton to McAfee if you appreciate speed. The first upgrade you should consider for your old computer would be RAM. This is the memory used to run your desktop, launch programs, run your

antivirus and malware checkers and open things like your Blackberry desktop. The minimum amount of RAM you should have is 1 gigabyte (GB), while the maximum you should consider is 3GB. More than that would not be used by 32-bit Microsoft operating systems. To check your RAM, select Control Panel from the Start button, then find the System icon and open it (general tab). The amount of RAM will be listed. The next upgrade to consider would be a new video adapter. This is the engine of the video display. The faster your engine, the faster your display will appear. The old saw, “you’re only as strong as the weakest link” applies to computers. If your video is slow, data bits back up waiting to display – overall slowing your computer. You need to know if you support AGP (brown slot) or PCI Express (black slot, short = 1x, long = 16x). Finally, consider adding a new hard drive. If your drive is more than 70 percent full, your computer speed will suffer greatly. To check it, click on My

Computer, find your local drive (main drive), then right click “properties” to view a pie chart describing the storage condition of your drive. Having less than 30 percent free space will slow your computer. A new drive will give you additional space and generally a faster computer. There are two ways to utilize the space. First, simply add the drive and use it as a secondary drive, meaning it is not the C:\ drive. You could do this yourself. The better method is to make your new drive the C:\ (main) drive and clone your old drive on to it. Let’s say your old C:\ drive was 40GB, and your new one is 320GB, cloning to it would leave you with a much larger drive, making your computer faster. I recommend using a professional for this. You could expect to spend about $75 for RAM, plus installation, and the same for video. A new hard drive isn’t expensive at $125. Installation of the hard drive will depend on the existing free space. Will Claney is the CEO of Computers USA! in the Clayton Station. Contact him at 925-6729989.

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Clayton Pioneer • www.claytonpioneer .com

Page 11

These days, it’s easy to go coco-nuts


Smith & Bernal





Warm tropical beaches with tall, swaying coconut palms lure lots of travelers this time of year. Little does the unsuspecting tourist know that more than a hundred people are killed by falling coconuts each year. Nevertheless, those delectable fruits (seeds, not nuts, actually) make for some pretty fine eating and many other uses. The English word “coconut” was first used in the mid-1500s. The name is derived from the Spanish coco and the Portuguese coquo, which mean “monkey face.” European explorers encountering coconuts thought the three “eyes” or round markings at the base of a coconut resembled the animal. Coconuts are quite buoyant because of their light, fibrous husk. They drift on ocean currents easily, which may explain their prevalence throughout the South Pacific. Explorers and traders expanded the coconut’s range to South America, India, Africa the Caribbean and Florida. Not only is the coconut tree prolific (a mature tree produces more than 60 coconuts each year), it’s a true multitasker. The seed yields water, milk, meat, sugar and oil. The husk is used as a fuel and yields a fiber called “coir” that is used in brushes, mats, fishnets and rope. The tree and bark have a number of uses in buildings.

Coconuts have even been used as currency. The people of the Nicobar Islands of the Indian Ocean traded coconuts for goods up until the early 20th century. In addition to their use in soaps, medicines and cosmetics, coconuts are culinary powerhouses. Coconut oil extracted from dried coconut meat is used as a cooking oil. In fact, it was the leading vegetable oil until the introduction of soybean oil in the 1960s. Until fairly recently, coconut was only available in American markets as dried, shredded and sweetened meat (think Almond Joy and coconut cream pie). In this form, coconut is rather chewy, giving some credence to a Singhalese proverb: “Eat coconut while you have teeth.” These days, coconut milk – a mainstay in Indian, Thai and other tropical cuisines – can easily be found on most grocer’s shelves. I like the Thai brand Chakoah. One of my favorite soups is from Thailand. It’s redolent of coconut milk, lemongrass and galangal – a rhizome similar to ginger. The soup is great on cold evenings and hot summer days alike. THAI CHICKEN AND GALANGAL SOUP 2 c. chicken stock or broth 1 15 oz. can coconut milk (not “light”) 1 pinch salt 1 tsp. palm sugar* 2 stalks lemongrass 2 shallots, peeled 3 Thai green chili,* stems removed 10 slices galangal,* peeled 3 kaffir lime leaves* ½ lb. mushrooms (straw, oyster or button), cut into bite-sized pieces 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

Rymer, from page 9 your pet will learn to enjoy and anticipate this quality time. When I quietly say, “brushbrush,” my female cat, Newby, will bound into the room to sit for a brushing – while purring in extreme pleasure. Don’t forget to trim dog nails every one to two months. Once the quick (the center of the nail which is composed of blood vessels and nerves) grows too long, we are unable to shorten the nails. Walking on long, crocked nails is like walking in a bad pair of shoes and can cause paw problems.

Indoor kitties should have their nails trimmed every week or two. Or consider applying Soft Paws, small plastic nail caps which come in colors from clear to neon pink. Come by and visit Dewey, our receptionist cat. He will model them for you. It’s also important to set aside bonding time with your pet. Daily walks, hikes, ball tossing or Frisbee flipping with your dog will improve your relationship and, in turn, help with weight loss. Find a special interactive toy for your cat, whether it is a

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FM Alexander Technique T h e 2 T. lime juice 3 T. fish sauce* ¼ c. cilantro leaves, chopped ¼ c. green onions, thinly sliced Bring chicken broth, coconut milk, salt and palm sugar to a boil, then reduce to a steady simmer. Bruise the lemongrass, shallots and chilies. Add to the soup base along with the galangal and lime leaves. Simmer 20 minutes. Strain. Return soup to the saucepan and add chicken and mushrooms. Simmer until the chicken is cooked, 10-15 minutes. Add fish sauce and lime juice. Garnish with cilantro and green onion. *Note: These items can be found in Asian food stores, like Country Square Market in Pleasant Hill. You can substitute light brown sugar for the palm sugar, ginger for the galangal and Serrano chili peppers for the hot Thai peppers. Homemade granola is inexpensive, nutritious and super easy to prepare. Here’s a version using sweetened, shredded coconut that is available in the baked goods aisle of your grocery store.

store-bought mechanical ball, dangling stick toy or a simple shoestring. Try to invent interactive games, such as tossing a small ball and encouraging your cat to retrieve it. You may find that cats have their own ideas on how to play. Be sure to reward by allowing them to capture the “prey” and give positive verbal reinforcement. Quiet times are special, too. As I write, Newby is cuddled on my lap. Use your TV or reading time to be close to your cat or dog. Last but not least, consider donating time or money to your favorite pet charity. Some of my favorite organizations are: American Society of

HOMEMADE GRANOLA 1 c. old-fashioned or quickcooking oatmeal (not instant) ½ c. sweetened, shredded coconut ½ c. sliced or slivered almonds, pecans or walnuts 3 T. vegetable oil 2 T. honey Preheat oven to 350. Toss the oatmeal, coconut, nuts, oil and honey together in a large bowl until they are completely combined. Pour onto a sheet pan and bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns an even golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven, loosen the granola with a spatula and allow to cool, stirring once.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Veterinary Medical Foundation, Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), Best Friends Animal Society, Center for Companion Animal Health, Resolve this year to improve your pet’s life, and I am sure you will receive an abundance of love in return. Marybeth Rymer, DVM, can be reached at Monte Vista Veterinary Hospital, Concord. 672-1100.



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Page 12

Clayton Pioneer •

January 9, 2009

Clayton Sports Jeff Powers ready to play college ball in Denver RANDY ROWLAND Clayton Pioneer

Clayton resident Jeff Powers, a senior at De La Salle High School in Concord, has signed a letter of intent to play college basketball at the University of Denver. Powers is a second-year starter for the perennially powerful De La Salle Spartans. He looks forward to a successful campaign this year before moving on to the next level. Powers comes from an athletic family with a strong tradition of basketball. His father Rob played at Las Lomas and Diablo Valley College, and sisters Alicia and Monica were members of the Carondelet basketball team. Alicia played Pac 10 volleyball at Cal. Monica, a sophomore at UCLA, is a member of the water polo team that won the NCAA Division I championship last year.

that his athletic career would be on the hard courts of the local gyms. Despite his father’s initial reluctance, Powers joined the Pleasant Hill Diablo Hawks AAU team and began a year-around program. He had three successful seasons – including qualifying for the AAA national championships. He was coached at AAA by Brad Levesque, whose son Beau is a fellow starter at DLS. “He has grown so much as a player by working so hard,” Levesque noted. “Jeff is also very likable and a prankster.” As a DLS freshman in 2005, Powers was fortunate to be part of the last Spartan team that became state champions. As a junior varsity player that season, Powers did enough to be moved up to varsity during the playoff run. “I just played during scrub time,” Powers recalled, “but being a part of that team was memorable.”


With such an athletic family, Powers was surrounded by the opportunity to play sports. He began playing basketball around age 5, when he and his father played pick-up ball. He soon found himself dribbling and shooting the ball at every chance he got. He played a season or two of soccer with the Mt. Diablo Soccer Association and a couple of seasons of baseball with Clayton Valley Little League, but there was no doubt basketball was king. As a student at St. Agnes, he began playing organized ball with St. Bonaventure’s CYO third-grade team and continued with that program for six years. He looks back at that experience as “the great years of my life.” “I really liked CYO basketball because of my teammates and playing with all the hometown Clayton kids,” Powers said. Tamara Steiner/Clayton Pioneer

DE LA SALLE SENIOR JEFF POWERS will play basketball for the University of Denver next year. Powers is a second-year starter for the Spartans.

MOVING TO THE HAWKS As Powers starting growing, reaching 6-4 as a sixth-grader, it was evident

MOVING UP AS A SOPHOMORE By his sophomore season, Powers had grown to 6-6 and was the sixth man for varsity. He continued to play his wing/shooter position and easily made the transition from forward. His team was not expected to be a contender but ended up reaching the Nor Cal semi-finals and finishing with a 283 record, after winning NCS and placing in the top eight teams in the state. They lost to eventual champion McClymond’s of Oakland. Going into his junior year, Powers was the starting wing/shooting forward. The team returned four starters and won NCS once again before falling to eventual state champions and budding rival McClymond’s. The team finished 28-4 and Powers averaged 10 points and four rebounds per game. De La Salle has formed an AAU team to compete in tournaments on the national level, and Powers has been involved with Green Line since his freshman year. Last summer, the team

went an incredible 95-3 in tournament play, including winning the prestigious Nike Invitational Double Pump tournament in Southern California. A STRONG SENIOR SEASON Going into his final season at DLS, Powers has high expectations for the Spartan team. Coach Frank Allocco has scheduled a competitive non-league season, including a rematch with McClymond’s and a televised ESPN2 game with Dominguez Hills Compton. With three returning starters and seven overall returners on varsity, De La Salle is again primed to dominate the Nor Cal high school preps. Powers has developed a strong shooting game and considers himself a strong leaper. “The jumping part of my game has probably improved the most,” he said, “and I consider jumping and shooting to be my strengths.” Allocco heaps praise on Powers and his contributions to the De La Salle program. The coach notes his superior dribbling, defending and shooting skills. “Jeff has a great love of the game and has meant a lot to our program,” he said. “He has talent and a desire to fulfill his potential and makes everyone around him better.” LOOKING FORWARD Powers began receiving phone calls from colleges as a junior, but things heated up this summer and fall. He received an offer from Sacramento State and Air Force showed interest, but after a recruiting visit to the University of Denver from the Sunbelt Conference, Powers was sold. “I fell in love with the place after seeing the campus and meeting the players and the coach, Joe Scott,” Powers said. He is not sure what he will study, or if he will play as a freshman. “I may need to get bigger and more physical to play next year, but it will be up to the coaches,” the athlete said.

Successful tournament weekend for two Diablo FC teams RANDY ROWLAND Clayton Pioneer

Two local girls soccer teams had winning tournaments on the same weekend in November. The Diablo FC Galaxy U9 girls class I team advanced in the Nor Cal State Cup playoffs at Granite Park in Sacramento and played in the championship game of the silver division in Manteca. Meanwhile, the Mt. Diablo Soccer Association Piranhas U10 girls won the Area 2C Tournament of Champions (TOC) in Pleasant Hill. Galaxy is a new team coached by Brazilian star Marcia Taffarel (Tafa) and Clayton resident Jack Boeger. The team was comprised of 8- and 9-year-old

girls from Concord and Clayton. During the regular season, Galaxy advanced to qualify for the Nor Cal playoffs. REACHING FOR THE SILVER In the playoffs Nov. 15-16, Galaxy played four games and had two shutout wins. They started with a 3-0 loss to eventual gold champions Placer United Gold and a 2-0 loss to Fremont Force. They bounced back to beat Menlo Park Blue 6-0 and Placer Black 4-0 in a quarterfinal elimination game to advance to Manteca’s playoffs for the silver division. There, they beat Sonoma County Alliance 3-1 before dropping the championship game 1-0 to the San Juan Spirits. “I think what the girls most

improved on was their positioning and ball control,” Tafa said of the season. “At the beginning of the year they were playing bunch ball, but by the Nor Cal tournament the girls knew their roles and where to play on the field.” She said the girls were committed to the team. “I most enjoyed the motivation of the girls to come to practice and learn,” she noted. Kaleigh Finney of Clayton is a forward for the Galaxy. She scored three goals in the tournament. “It was fun to play in it and it was special this year to play for Tafa, because she was a Brazilian World Cup star,” she said. Finney enjoyed learning how to trap the ball out of the air

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this year. She liked the Galaxy team because of “all the new friends I made on the team.” Another Clayton girl, Kelly Livingston, liked being the Galaxy goalkeeper. “I have to be aggressive,” she said, “and teams run into me.” She enjoyed coach Tafa because “she is really fun and helps me learn.” She added: “Coach Jack helps me with playing goalie.” Clayton’s Sophie Wheeler is a defender for the Galaxy. The third-grader at Mt. Diablo Elementary liked playing club soccer this year. “The games were really hard and it is more fun to play against hard teams,” she said.

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CLAYTON RESIDENT KALEIGH FINNEY plays in the Nor Cal championships at Granite Sports Park in Sacramento on Nov. 16.

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January 9, 2009

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 13

CV football completes historic year In this celebration year of the school’s 50th anniversary, the Clayton Valley Eagles football team completed the best season in the school’s history by going 12-0 before falling just short in the NCS Division II Championship. The Eagles had previously played for the NCS Championship, but had never gone into the game undefeated. This year they completed a magical season by winning all of their non-league games, going 50 in the newly formed DVAL, and then steamrolling over Casa Grande of Petaluma and Las Lomas in the playoffs. Their only defeat came in their very last game against Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa in what amounted to a home game for the Santa Rosa team, which also came into the finals undefeated at 12-0. The final score of 17-7 is not indicative of how close the game really was, and takes nothing away from the finest campaign in the Eagles half of century of play. End of season individual honors were plentiful as well at the football awards dinner. Clayton’s Joey Levine and Dozie Iwuagwu were named co-MVPs

for the 2008 season. Most improved player awards were given to Julian Thornton and Logan Dongallo. Most inspirational nods went to Kevin Arrendondo and Eddie De La Torre. Clayton resident Steve

and those two wins and a tie advanced the team to the semifinal round on Sunday. The scores were 1-1 vs. MDSA, 2-1 vs. PHMSA and 4-0 vs. Concord. The Piranhas won their semi-final game against another MDSA team 3-0, advancing them to the championship against the PHMSA Tsunami. The game was a back and forth affair. Jaclyn Aragon of the Piranhas scored the only goal of the game in the first quarter. The girls held on with strong

Vets, from page 9 formed at vet school wound up as interns together and ongoing relationships,” he said. “You have hours in common as well as your work.” Within the company, Chuck knew of three other couples who started that way. “It used to be unheard of that couples could do their residencies and internships together.” “My biggest difficulty is probably trying to get home at a reasonable time in the evenings,” Micki noted. “This often means bringing records

defense by Gianna Maurino at stopper, Lauren Depaschalis and Sydney Gois and goalkeeper Lexi Oswald. The Piranha also included forwards Luci Marigold and Desiree Maurino, and Alli Gilbert and Sofia Daly in the midfield. The team is coached by Clayton resident Al Aragon and Tony Maurino. “It is a rare season to go undefeated 18-0-1 in any sport. It will be a season the team will never forget,” Aragon said. “We saw some amazing improvement in each one of these girls, but the main thing is that they came together as a team. These girls

were really focused and wanted to learn.” Clayton’s Daly said they faced tough competition at the TOC. “I think I played great because I made a great save and I am really proud because we won the game,” she said. This was Daly’s third season playing soccer and it was the most fun she has had. “The girls on the Piranhas were really fun and they are all my friends.” Jacyln Aragon of Clayton says all her teammates had a big part in winning the championship. “Practice makes perfect and if you really try hard, you might achieve or reach your dreams,” she said.

he said, referring to the many types of joint deformities in the patients they see. The couple has lived in Clayton since 1995, living in one home for five years before moving three houses down. They have two children, Mackenna and Delaney, as well as two dogs, two cats and two horses. “Our kids sometimes will come to work and either help out or entertain the staff to some degree,” Micki said. “At this point, they both have an interest in becoming veterinarians.” “Go for it,” Chuck said. “It is very challenging and rewarding.”

One of the surprising directions the couple takes is in acupuncture. “My main interest in it stemmed from seeing very ill patients for whom frequently we would get to the point where there were no more Western medicines or procedures that would help, or the medications or procedures were too expensive or invasive for a certain pet to undergo,” Micki said. She found herself using her interest in herbal medications to augment many Western medications she had already been using. “Ideas that I used to really shake my head at, I am finding to be more helpful than I had ever thought,” she added.

Randy Rowland/Clayton Pioneer

QUARTERBACK LEVINE AND COACH LES GARAVENTA discuss a play during the Las Lomas playoff game.

Soccer, from page 12 GOING IN UNDEFEATED The MDSA Piranhas went into the Area 2C TOC as the No. 1 seed after advancing in the MDSA playoffs the prior weekend. The Piranhas were 110 through the regular season. In the playoffs, they again won all of their games with a shutout, a 3-1 and a 4-1 win. At the TOC, 12 teams competed in the U10 girls division, and the Piranhas were drawn against the MDSA Bandits, PHMSA and Concord. The girls played three games on Saturday

Stallone and Michael Banks were named Eagle scholars. Cooutstanding linemen were Josse Tejada and Chase Elsberry and Clayton’s Nick Cole was given the Mr. Defense award. Additional honors went to Cole,

Levine, Elsberry, and Vince Buhagiar, who were named to the San Francisco Chronicle All Metro team. The Contra Costa Times named Levine the defensive player of the year and Cole, Dan Valenzuela, and Tejada were all East Bay. Coach Herc Pardi attributes the teams’ success this year to hard work, sacrifice and attention to detail. “We knew we’d be good,” Pardi said, “but as the season unfolded everything fell into place, and all the hard work led to an undefeated season. Levine added “Most of our seniors were part of a championship team and we wanted to end on a good note. We didn’t know we’d be in the NCS Championship game, but it was a memorable way to go out.” Despite losing the nucleus of the team next year, Pardi is excited that the JV team coached by Rich Martinez, Dean Nakamura, and Clayton residents Bob Mazza and Jim Murphy finished league 7-3 and were co-DVAL champions. “With a solid core of returners and a promising group of JV’s, we are optimistic about 2009,” Pardi said. For this unforgettable season he adds “All forty plus players improved significantly, and that carried us to a season we will remember forever.”

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Clayton Pioneer •

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Students pitch in for food drive


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canned food drive in December to support those in need of assistance. The school wanted at least 90 percent participation from the 682 students. DVMS exceeded that goal by collecting 1,210 cans of food. After the results were recorded, it was found that there was more than 140 percent participation by the students. Principal Patti Bannister supported this cause by rewarding students with a schoolwide “No Homework Night” for their efforts.

“It felt awesome to help people in need,” noted Bailey Rogers, a member of the Community Outreach Climate Committee. Haley Rivera, another member, was happy the school surpassed its goal. She was excited because everyone worked so hard to make posters and get the message out about the food drive. Diablo View Middle School students understand the concept that one person can make a difference. With everyone contributing a couple of cans,

the school was able to give back to our community. Bannister was pleased that the students united for an important cause and quoted Anne Frank: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single minute before starting to improve the world.” This just shows that helping those in need can be as simple as donating a can of food. Robbie Parker is a sixth-grader at Diablo View. Send comments to

CERT moves into 2009 ready to train more volunteers

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It’s been a banner year in Clayton for the Community Emergency Response Team. We now have about 100 fully trained CERT members and counting. In our most recent Clayton Community Citizen’s Corp Council (C-5) meeting, we discussed all of the accomplishments during 2008 and how we move forward into 2009 to train and educate more within our community on disaster preparedness and emergency response. Some specific accomplishments include: We conducted several drills and FRS (two-way radio) testing. We had a field exercise on June 7 where we sized up and used FRS radios. On Oct. 25, we conducted an earthquake scenario field exercise where we held incident response, triage and FRS radios testing/usage. In 2008, we sent about 10 Clayton CERT members to FRS

training classes. We held 10 C-5 meetings. We developed an Area Coordinator’s Guide and posted it on the Clayton CERT Website. We provided traffic control at the Fourth of July Parade. We had two CERT members attend T3 training in 2008, which means that Clayton now has three official trainers. The next time you see or talk to a CERT member, be sure to thank them for being a part of this valuable volunteer effort within our community. We all know that our economy is tough and the state is suffering from some major budget issues. In Clayton, we’re not immune to budget cutbacks or the woes of the state. This means if there were ever a major disaster, we as a community and individuals need to be prepared on what to do, what to have, etc. If you combine the budget

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Snap Fitness gym downtown or at Butterfly Life in Clayton Station. It’s exciting to see couples strolling downtown after a nice dinner at one of our fine restaurants. And our retail commercial expert is diligently searching out new businesses that will complement those already in our downtown to fill some of those empty lots and help continue the reinvigoration of our town. It’s a tough economy, but there are businesses ready to seize the opportunity to get in on the ground floor, so we’re looking forward to his report in late January. Councilman Howard Geller will propose a “Shop Clayton First” program at the council

meeting on Jan. 20 or Feb. 3. The Clayton Bocce Federation will be back at the Jan. 20 meeting to discuss funding options and plans for a bocce center in town. A big shout out to one of our regular trail walkers, Barbara Halperin, who noticed an extraordinary amount of trash that vandals had left along the trail near the golf course. She made the contacts and organized a cleanup of the area, collecting several bags of garbage. Thanks, Barbara! Another good note: Clayton residents are doing a better job of recycling at home. The state requires us to divert a minimum of 50 percent of our trash from the landfills by recycling. Clayton

crisis with the fact that we live in a small community, it is an important reminder that during a major disaster, help or assistance from the police, fire or other agencies probably won’t come for a week or longer. The C-5 plans to conduct two CERT trainings and various small workshops in 2009 to give our residents a chance to learn more on how to deal with emergencies and disaster preparedness. We are hoping that these additional trainings and workshops will help get our fully trained CERT membership up to 150 or more individuals. It’s nice to know that with our current 100 fully trained CERT members, we are better prepared than a lot of other communities. So for 2009, make a commitment to yourself, family and community and come to one of our workshops or sign


SAFETY ZONE up for the CERT training. At the very least, you’ll learn how to be ready and you might even make some new friends along the way. If you are interested in learning how to be better prepared in the event of a major disaster or emergency, visit or 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.

The Clayton CERT Website is and the national CERT site is

averages about 48 percent, but we finally topped out at 50.34 percent in November. That’s great! We need to keep it up as the state wants us to be at 60 percent in the near future. It’s time to start planning for those summer activities for your kids and the Clayton Community Gym, run for us by the YMCA, has some great summer camps and spring activities. Call them at 889-1600. We want to welcome Jennifer Beck as the new director of programs at the Clayton Gym. She has lots of experience and energy to match with some great plans for future programs for all our youth. Anyone have ideas for senior programs we could have? Let me know and I’ll pass them along. Finally, a big thanks to everyone who came out and enjoyed

our Clayton Counts Down New Year’s Eve party at the Clayton Community Gym. The weather was great and we all had a great time. Thanks to all our volunteers, including our City Council members. Dave Shuey barbecued those dogs and burgers and Howard Geller found more donations for this sponsor-funded, free event. Thanks to Joe Medrano, who brought his daughter and worked the evening. Joe is now sharing the organizing committee job with me. Former Mayor Gregg Manning and his wife Joan are always a big help as are our great city and YMCA staffs, who volunteer their time to staff this activity for our families. As always, you can contact me by email at Let me know what you think.

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Clayton Pioneer •

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Clayton Community Calendar

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Through March 10 Patty Cakes 11 a.m. Tuesdays. Story time for babies to those 3 years old. Child attends with caregiver.

Jan. 9-Feb. 7 “Evil Dead: The Musical” This campy take on “slasher” horror films features seating in “the Splatter Zone.” No one under 13 admitted without a parent. Willows Cabaret, 636 Ward St., Martinez. $20-$30. or 798-1300.

Through March 5 Picture Book Time. 11 a.m. Thursdays. Story time for 3-5 year olds. Child may attend without caregiver.


Jan. 10 Stars to the Rescue A fund-raiser for Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation. Includes Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock from Air Supply, Tony Orlando, Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters. 6:45 p.m., Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $50-$300. 943-SHOW or

Children's Hospital Magnolia Branch Meets 7-9 p.m. the first Monday of the month in Concord. New members welcome. Contact Lori at 9988844 or

Clayton Books All events at 5433 D Clayton Road, Clayton unless otherwise noted. 673-3325 or 7 p.m. Jan. 14, Dr. Carl Alasko, “Emotional Bullshit: The Hidden Plague that is Threatening to Destroy Your Relationships and How to Stop It!” 3 p.m. Jan. 18, Rand Richards, “Mud, Blood & Gold: San Francisco in 1849.” 7 p.m. Jan. 21, Barbara Bentley, “A Dance with the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath.” 4 p.m. Jan. 22, Scott Savage, “Farworld Book One: Water Keep.” 5 p.m. Jan. 23, Scott Savage, “Farworld Book One: Water Keep.” 2 p.m. Jan. 25, author event with Marc Paul Kaplan, “Over the Edge”; Alice Wilson-Fried, “Outside Child”; Laurel Anne Hill, “Heroes Arise”; Jon Cory, “A Plague of Scoundrels”; and Lee Doyle, “The Love We All Wait For.” 7 p.m. Jan. 27, tea with Annie Barrows, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.” Oakhurst Country Club; reservations required.

AT THE LIBRARY The Clayton Community Library is at 6125 Clayton Road. 673-0659 or

Jan. 12 Dan Chan the Magic Man 3 p.m. Chan weaves magic, comedy, juggling and dog tricks into a show for the whole family.

Contra Costa Chess Club Meets 7-9:30 p.m. Thursdays, Starbuck's, 1536 Kirker Pass Road, Clayton. The club is an affiliate of the United States Chess Federation and players of all ages and skill levels are welcome. Contact Mike at 639-1987 or Rotary Club of Clayton Valley/Concord Sunrise Meets 7 a.m. Thursdays, Oakhurst Country Club, 1001 Peacock Creek Dr., Clayton Meeting includes breakfast and a speaker. Contact Chuck at 689-7640 or www. Scrabble Club Meets 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, Carl’s Jr. Restaurant, 1530 Kirker Pass Road, Clayton. Players of all ages and skill levels welcome. $3 fee per player. Call Mike at 6391987 or

GOVERNMENT Jan. 13, 20, 27 County Board of Supervisors 9:30 a.m., County Administration Building, 651 Pine St., Room 107, Martinez. or 3351900

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SCHOOLS CVHS Crab Feed & Auction 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Jan. 10. Sponsored by the Clayton Valley High School Athletic Boosters Club. Centre Concord, 5298 Clayton Road. $50. Tickets can be purchased at the school office or at Mt. Diablo Board of Education 7:30 p.m. second and fourth Tuesdays, Board Room, Dent Center, 1936 Carlotta Dr., Concord. 682-8000.

Clayton Community Recreation For registration information, visit or call 889-1600. Men’s 5 on 5 Basketball: An eight-week season that meets once a week for a game. A playoff will be held for league winner. Call Jacob at 692-2362. Co-Ed Adult Volleyball: An eight-week season that meets once a week for a game. A playoff will be held for league winner. Call Jacob at 692-2362. Youth Basketball: Games are coached by parent volunteers

and refereed by YMCA staff. All practices and games are played for one hour on Saturdays at the Clayton Community Gym. Volunteer coaches needed. Jan. 17-March 8. $113 or $123 nonresidents. CPR/First Aid: Learn how to effectively respond to an emergency and provide the necessary care. Participants receive certificates for Standard First Aid (valid for three years) and Adult, Infant and Child CPR (valid for one year). 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 10. $63 or $73 non-residents.


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Clayton Pioneer •


ea Y ew

January 9, 2009

Clayton author’s second book offers a children’s story with rich cultural origins

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Clayton author Michael Yashar has had his second book published – this one a children’s tale with origins in Indian and Persian poetry and accompanied by colorful illustrations. “It is a rhythmical story of the development of the chick

and its hatching process,” Yashar said. Yashar provided the illustrations for “The Chickadee Story,” part of his skillset from almost 40 years as an architect in the United States with large architectural ventures for companies like Genentech. “My wife and I were babysitting in Seattle for our 3-year-

old grandson about a year ago when I scribbled the text and the pictures to entertain him,” Yashar explained. “When my daughter, a child psychologist, came home in the evening she found the scribblings and excitedly announced, ‘Oh Dad, this would make an excellent children’s book.’ ” His first novel, “Shah of

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Isfahan,” was released early last year. That book traces a tale in the period known as “The Persian Camelot” to show a young king who unites a fragmented nation establishing a peaceful period of good relations and commerce with the kings and popes of Europe. While the book would appeal to older children, it was meant for adults. “I was born in Isfahan,” Yashar said. “I spent my childhood there before moving to Teheran. I was always fascinated by that chapter in the country’s history when a king brought the country out of intolerance and into a realm of freedom and democracy.” He hopes that someday the process will once again restore Iran to a nation of religious tolerance. Yashar and his wife Fery have two grown children and two grandsons. Fery is a potter and their Clayton hills home is a backdrop for her handiwork.

Church News André Gensburger/Clayton Pioneer

MICHAEL AND FERY YASHAR reflect upon his experiences as architect in creating illustrations for his children’s book.

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‘Septembers’ a compelling view into a different world





Since I have always lived on the western-most edge of the United States, I don’t know what it’s like to live in a city under occupation of hostile forces. But we have neighbors and friends who can understand the soul-wrenching experience of violence and oppression. Like my friend Richard, whose family escaped Nazi-occupied Austria ala the family Von Trapp when he was but a lad of 10. Americans are lucky to have avoided the experience of occupation here where we live and raise our families. Yet to reach for a better understanding and a deeper level of compassion, we have but to flick through the cable stations, drive to the local cinema or, to more fully immerse ourselves, reach for a book. “The Septembers of Shiraz” by Dalia Sofer is one such novel. Beautifully constructed, poetically written and utterly lacking in hyperbole, Sofer’s novel depicts the aftermath of the Iranian revolution through the eyes of a particularly “normal” family. One day out of the cracks of everyday routine, rare-gem dealer Isaac Amin is arrested and accused of being a spy. Terrified

by his disappearance, his family reconciles itself to a nightmare of cruelty, chaos and the collapse of the world as they had known it. As armchair travelers, we witness the betrayal of the Amin family in a very personal way. Isaac is tossed in prison, interrogated, beaten, threatened and denied any communication with his family. Farnaz can only stand silently by as her husband vanishes one day from his office. Her home is searched

Photo credit -

and ransacked, her housekeeper threatens to turn her over to the revolutionaries and her husband’s employees loot his business. Ten-year-old Shirin alone maintains any sense of routine. She attends school just as she did before – except now everything is different and she must make friends with the unlikable girl whose father became prison warden after the revolution. Like in many families, son Parviz is a bridge between worlds. Living in the United States and speaking English, he is unable to rescue his family and unable to establish himself

clearly in one world or the other. Much of the terrible beauty of “Septembers” is because Sofer’s narrative is simple and direct: “Isaac doesn’t answer. The blood of a Jew, or a Christian, or any non-Muslim, is not as valuable as that of a Muslim – he knows that of course. But what once seemed to him like one of the many archaic, even amusing, laws of his country suddenly terrifies him. Blood money. An actual tariff placed on people’s blood. He looks at Vartan, who is hugging his knees, his torso limp and yielding. What the two of them share, beyond any real or imagined personal history, is a massacre of their forebears – the Jews by the Germans, the Armenians by the Turks – and he wonders if this membership in the club of the slaughtered doesn’t create a certain kinship after all.” Narrated through the various perspectives of the Amin family, “The Septembers of Shiraz” artfully and poignantly illustrates the beauty of the human condition under brutal circumstances. That Sofer is Iranian born and her family fled her country when she was 10 lends a core of authenticity to the book that never fails to engage the reader. Cynthia Gregory is a local writer who has won numerous awards for her short fiction. Her work has appeared in Glimmer Train Press, the Red Rock Review, Writer’s Digest, The Sun, The Ear, Santa Barbara Review, Black River Review, Briarcliff Review, Chicago Tribune, Bon Appetit, and the Herb Quarterly. You can write her at

THE BAHA’IS The group welcomes all to a talk and evening of fellowship starting at 7:30 p.m. Fri., Jan. 9. The subject of the talk is “The Message and Messenger of God – Promise of Unity after Chaos.” The speaker is Dennis Pettyjohn, who holds a bachelor’s in theology and a master’s in church administration. He was a Baptist minister for 10 years in California and Arizona. He now lives in San Mateo County. The event is at the Toloui residence in Clayton. For more information and directions, call 672-6686.

Deal With It, from page 7 included, I have come to realize that this affliction is suffered by many people who subsequently start their new year with an enrollment in a gym or weight loss program. I see ads everywhere. They all say something like “There will never be a better time to …” or “Make your new body starting today.” Does that mean I have to toss the leftovers from the 500-pound ham or the 300 sweet potatoes that did not get touched? And what of the boxes of Ferrero Rocher or See’s chocolates that promise sweet joy and a trip to the store to buy new pants? Should these be discarded as well? I have come to realize that the calendar is cyclic to allow us ample time to forget the gluttony of food and gift items that the holidays bring. By the time it swings around again, I will be a few pounds lighter, still paying off last year’s Christmas credit cards and there it will be, on July 1, the first Christmas advertising reminding me that Santa is not on a weight loss program and remains happy. I guess I’ll just have to deal with it with a smile on my face and a napkin in my hand. André Gensburger is a staff reporter and feature writer for the Pioneer. His email address is

January 9, 2009

Clayton Pioneer •

Vacation close to home in Pacific Grove PENNY CANNON

TRAVEL NOTES Pacific Grove may not have a world famous name like its neighbors Monterey, Carmel, and Pebble Beach, but as I discovered on our last visit, its beauty, hospitality and location are every bit as world class as the other three. With close to a fourth of its beautifully maintained structures designated as historic buildings, (almost 1,300), the city provides an oldfashioned charm to both visitors and residents. The San Francisco Methodist Church founded the area in 1875 as a summer camp for church retreats. Fourteen years later the resort town was incorporated and became the City of Pacific Grove. It has through the years been the home of some very famous residents like John Steinbeck, Doc Ricketts and the Monarch Butterflies. The Monarch Butterflies are the only insects known to migrate. They can travel as far as 2,000 miles. They arrive for the

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THE MONTEREY BAY VIEWS are spectacular from the Martine Inn in Pacific Grove. butterflies hanging together like large pinecones is worth the trip. Pacific Grove has a 4-½ mile oceanside trail that extends from Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium on one end, all the way to the gates of Pebble Beach. The stunning views of rolling surf, quiet coves, and sandy beaches make this a very enjoyable afternoon stroll or bike ride. The more adventurous visitors can kayak among the play-

FOR THIS SPECTACULAR BAY VIEW, ask for the Parke room at the Martine Inn in Pacific Grove. winter in late October and leave in early March. The city has provided a Monarch Grove Sanctuary for the thousands of butterflies that cluster together in the pine and eucalyptus trees. Admission to the sanctuary is free and the area is always open. The city has a $1,000 fine for deliberately disturbing a butterfly. The awesome beauty of thousands of orange and black

Page 17

ful otters or take a boat ride out to see whales. The Monterey Bay Whale Watch Co. located at Fishermen’s Wharf has a great reputation for providing a whale watching experience you will long remember. On the day we went out we were treated to 4 humpback whales playing near our boat. More exciting than that was the trip back to the wharf. We came upon a school

If You Go Martine Inn: 255 Oceanview Blvd. Pacific Grove. 831-373-3388 or Monterey Bay Whale Watch: 84 Fishermen’s Wharf, Monterey. 831-375-4658 or Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce: 584 Central Ave. Pacific Grove. 831-373-3304 or

of thousands of California sea lions. We followed the sea lions for over two miles as they continued south in their lane of traffic. The experience was impressive and I personally recommend it to all. Pacific Grove has the distinction of being home to one of the largest collections of Bed & Breakfast Inns in California. With so many options, which is the best? My enthusiastic recommendation is the Martine Inn. Its owner Don Martine has meticulously renovated this 1890’s Mediterranean-style mansion into a celebrated Monterey Bay ocean view bed and breakfast boutique hotel. As a guest of Don’s you will be provided a window into the golden age of the early 1900’s. From the furniture to the extensive collection of silver the home is filled with museum quality items. Each of the 24 rooms offers a private bath, and most rooms include a fireplace. The Martine Inn provides a library, a conference room, an enclosed spa, and a game room with billiard table and a 1917 nickelodeon. Don also has a collection of vintage M.G. autos that he has restored. Some of them are on display at the Inn. In the evening guests are treated to sumptuous platters of hot hors d’oeuvres, fresh fruit, antipasto and a wine selection of both reds and white. It is served overlooking the inn’s million-dollar view of Monterey Bay. After indulging ourselves with the extensive spread of hors d’oeuvres and wine, we left for a night of entertainment. That we found at the Inn at Spanish Bay listening to the jazz standards of the Dottie Dodgion Trio. Penny Cannon is a published author and lifelong resident of Contra Costa County. Her most recent book, “Senso Oware” chronicles the life of her father and his years as a POW during WWII. “Senso Oware” is now available at Clayton Books.



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Clayton Pioneer •

January 9, 2009

Consider plants that thrive in the cold NICOLE HACKETT

GARDEN GIRL During the winter months, it is good to know that there are some Clayton Valley loving shrubs that actually prefer the cold weather. Lilacs, peonies and dogwood all need consistent cold nights to set the buds that we all enjoy during the spring and summer. These selections laugh in the face of frost. As a matter of fact, they welcome it. Lilac is a sentimental shrub with fragrant clusters of blossoms of reds, pinks, lavenders and white. Through the years, many Clayton Valley gardeners have desired these shrubs and have been disappointed by the performance of the Eastern United States selections that some nurseries sold. Monrovia plant growers came out with a handful of varieties that thrive in our climate, without having the recommended 500 hours of chill less than 45 degrees. Even though these lilacs do not need the consistent cold, they do not protest our spotty frosts. LOOKS LIKE AN ANGEL Angel White is a suburb, pure-white lilac. This shrub will reach 12 feet tall and about 10 feet wide. It looks like a burst

of white fireworks when it blooms, with its many arms of blossoms reaching in every direction. Angel White looks nice in a twilight garden. Surround with evergreens to provide winter interest. Hebe plants are evergreen shrubs with summer blooming times. The two shrubs planted within the same landscape give extended interest. Big Blue is a more erect lilac, reaching heights of 10 feet and 6 feet wide. Big Blue will make a big show in your Clayton Valley landscape. The bloom is huge, and the bluish, lavender flowers are punchy. Surround this springtime bloomer with white carpet roses and Mexican Sage. These plants combined will give you


almost year-round color. Charles Joly is a wine red selection of lilac. The fragrant blooms reach 4-6 inches long and 2-3 inches wide. Charles does not reach the heights of the other selections noted, so you can expect eventually 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Install with other shrubs like the ivory bells correa or

golden sunset breath of heaven to create a hardy, eventually drought-tolerant grouping.

level of photographer successful. Sarah Bernhardt tends to be a bushy plant, reaching 2½ feet tall and about 3 feet wide. Remove seeds when the bloom is finished so you can appreciate the fine foliage. Blaze is a vivid red peony with golden yellow stamens. This peony blooms mid to late spring. Its blossom has been known to reach 6 inches wide. Blaze is a heat tolerant selection and can take full sun. Plant Blaze in a bed with yellow daylilies and dark purple verbena. These simple plants grouped together will make a remarkable garden statement. Not all plants are frost tender. Most survive and some thrive. If your garden proves to be colder than your neighbor’s, consider one of these choices to make the most of your microclimate. Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden Contact her with questions, comments or suggestions at


Dogwood trees are another Eastern tree that you seldom see in Clayton Valley landscapes. This tree is an understory selection that thrives in part sun with fertile, welldrained soil. If you have established pine trees or oaks, the dogwood would fit nicely into the landscape. Dogwood trees are pyramid-shaped and bloom before the leaves come out. They will have a brightly colored red berry in the autumn and great fall color. Indian Princess is a selection of Dogwood with rose pink blossoms, vibrant red berries and beautiful fall color. Use under tall pine trees to add interest to the trunks. Or surround with happy days azalea. The double petal purple blossoms will accent the Indian Princess nicely. Add some hydrangea to carry you blooms straight through summer. Constellation is an excellent variety of white flowered dogwood. This tree blooms in the early summer. Constellation can be used as a high profile accent tree. Use in a focal situation. The profusion of bloom will set off your twilight garden. Constellation is easy to find. Look for this tree during the early spring months, so it will be planted in time for its early


summer bloom. PRETTY AS A PEONY Peony plants are highly prized. Their enormous blossom makes an awesome presence in a cottage style or cut flower garden. Plant peonies with your roses, Echinacea and baby’s breath. They tolerate full to half a day’s sun. During mild winters, gardeners have been known to crack some ice and pile it on the


soil where the peony sleeps. Since our winter is beginning to be a cooler one than usual, this exercise will not be so common. Sarah Bernhardt is a familiar peony. She has a delightful, double blossom which is the color of an apple blossom – pretty and pink. This cottage garden favorite is fragrant and enjoyable on the shrub or in a vase. Please capture the blooms of your peony; they make any

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12/24/08 12/19/08 12/18/08 12/18/08 12/10/08 12/3/08 12/2/08 11/25/08 11/21/08 11/21/08 11/11/08 11/06/08 11/04/08 11/04/08 10/31/08

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JAN 09 Clayton Pioneer 2009.pdf  
JAN 09 Clayton Pioneer 2009.pdf