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January 27, 2012


Thumbs up for charter school DENISEN HARTLOVE Clayton Pioneer



Community effort leads to Charter success I once read the three C’s of life are: “You must make the choice, to take the chance, if you want anything in life to change.” When a core group of committed teachers and local parents were unhappy with the lack of strong leadership and a disconnected school district, a perfect storm was brewing. Supported by strong alumni and a community that wanted better education for our future leaders, the quest was born for a charter school to evolve at Clayton Valley High School. Pat Middendorf, Neil McChesney, Alison Bacigalupo, Dylan Perreira, Amber Lineweaver and Councilman David Shuey, a combination of educators and concerned citizens, started the dialogue that would move this goal to victory.

See Mayor, page 8

Mike Dunn/Clayton Pioneer

CHARTER SCHOOL SUPPORTERS RAISE A GLASS IN A VICTORY TOAST AT MORESI’S CHOPHOUSE after the County School Board overturned the MDUSD denial and approved a petition to convert CVHS to Clayton Valley Charter High School. Back row: CVHS teacher and charter school organizer Pat Middendorf, Clayton City Councilmember David Shuey, CVCHS Board Member Ted Meriam; Front row: City Councilmember Julie Pierce, CVHS teacher and charter school organizer Neil McChesney, Concord City Councilmember Laura Hoffmeister and Clayton City Councilmember Joe Medrano.

It’s approved! Following months of legal wrangling, a PR war from both sides, and at least a small forest worth of paper, at a meeting packed with over 400 people, the Contra Costa County Board of Education overturned the MDUSD’s denial, and unanimously approved the Clayton Valley High School charter petition. Cynthia Ruehlig, President of the Contra Costa County Board of Education, described her logic in voting for the petition as simply following the law. “It’s like innocent until proven guilty,” she said. “It’s approved until you can say why it will not succeed. That’s part of the educational system here in California.” The school is expected to open as a charter for the fall 2012 semester, making it one of only two charter schools in the district, and one of three conversion charters in the entire Bay Area. Sherry Whitmarsh, who recently replaced Gary Eberhart as president of the MDUSD Board of Education was pragmatic. “It is what it is,” she commented immediately after the

See Charter, page 9

Postal veteran Verlina Grimmett takes City Council says on interim head spot at Clayton PO church must pay PAMELA WIESENDANGER Clayton Pioneer

There is a new face in town at the Clayton Post Office. Verlina Grimmett joins the familiar clerks and carriers as officer in charge. She fills the vacancy left by retiring Postmaster Johnnie Johnson in December. It is an interim position, until the U.S.

Postal service decides to fill the position. Grimmett was chosen based on a recommendation approved by the district manager, and is not new to Clayton. She shadowed Johnson for one week and met most of her coworkers previously during an assignment to adjust routes for local Post Offices, including Clayton. Grimmett was hired by the

Postal Service in 1989 after completing four years of active duty in the Navy. Leaving her hometown of Astoria, Queens, in New York, she was stationed in Alameda during her service. Grimmett started with the Postal Service as a carrier in Fremont. In 2003, she was promoted to a supervisor position in Pittsburg where she worked until transferring to Clayton.

VERLINA GRIMMETT, NEW OFFICER IN CHARGE, fits right in behind the counter at the Clayton Post Office. Grimmett plans to apply for the postmaster position previously held by Johnnie Johnson who retired in December.

What’s Inside Around Town . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Book Review . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Classified . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Club News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Community Calendar . . . . . .14 Directory of Advertisers . . . . .5 Estate Planning . . . . . . . . . . .6 Fashion Over 50 . . . . . . . . . .8

Grimmett says the familiarity and fewer routes made it easier to transition. A strength she notes with the Clayton Post Office is higher revenue compared to other Post Offices of similar size due to solid business from stamp sales, packing supplies, Click-N-Ship and regular mailings like the Clayton Pioneer. And she adds with a smile, “A lot of customers love our clerks.” Pittsburg’s Postmaster Cina Kreisel says she would have liked to work with Grimmett longer, but “you can’t get anybody better. She’s more than ready for the position. She has great integrity.” Grimmett lives in Oakley with her husband, Kerry, and 12-year-old daughter, Kierra. Her older daughter, Manisha, is attending Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. The family enjoys movies, bowling and a competitive game of wii with family members living out of state. Grimmett is prepared to compete for the postmaster position. She says, “I like the Clayton Post Office a lot. I’ll put in for the job if it comes available.”

Fit with Levity . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Food for Thought . . . . . . . . .16 Garden Girl . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Hiker’s Haven . . . . . . . . . . .18 History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

increased fee to complete EIR TAMARA STEINER Clayton Pioneer

The city says Clayton Community Church must come up with an additional $68,000 to complete the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for their proposed worship center complex downtown. In a split decision, the City Council added $48,000 to the contract with LSA Associates, the environmental consultants, and another $20,000 in estimated city staff costs to complete the EIR process. The added costs are because of a much higher than expected number of responses to the draft EIR issued in May, said LSA Managing Principal David Clore. Clore said the church project had generated the second highest number of responses of any EIR the company had completed; second only to a

Living Well . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Obituary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Pets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Pioneer Photo Album . . . . . .17 Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

CITY ATTORNEY MALA SUBRAMANIAN addresses Clayton Community Church concerns over increased fees to complete EIR for their proposed worship center complex on Main Street. The Council approved the additional costs in a 3-2 vote at the Jan. 17 meeting.

private school proposed for a residential neighborhood in Oakland.

See Church EIR, page 3

Safety Zone . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Tech Talk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Teen Speak . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Theatre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17


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Clayton Pioneer •

January 27, 2012

Around Town Alicia Morrissey engaged to Six local kids recognized for exceptional kindness Scott Lundgren Six local kids were recognized by the City Council last

week for showing great acts of kindness toward others. The

students were nominated by their teachers and received a certificate from Mayor Howard Geller. The recognitions for Kindness are a part of the community-wide Do The Right Thing program which has adopted six character traits to emphasize throughout the year. The current trait is Self-discipline. Others are Integrity, Respect,

Courage and Responsibility. Program leaders hope to involve the community in the program through the 1000 Acts of Kindness website. Community members who have been the recipient or have witnessed a “random act of kindness” toward someone, are encouraged to share at www.Clayton

Anna Chan receives DAR Award

Pictured with Mayor Howard Geller are Molly Moylan and Jack Dress from MDES; from Mt. Diablo Elementary School; Brett Riessen (behind Jack) – DVMS; Ben Linzey and Zoey Dow – CVHS and Sierra Heuser from DVMS.

Pioneer goes to Iceland

Alicia Morrissey will marry Scott Lundgren in the spring of 2013. They were engaged on Nov. 11. Alicia is a preschool teacher in Concord. She graduated from CVHS in 2005. She is the daughter of Matt Morrissey and Beth Hamm of Concord and

Kim and JR Yasay of Commerce, Georgia. Scott is a service manager at East Bay Tire in Pittsburg. He graduated from CVHS in 2004. His parents are Chris and Kendra Lundgren of Clayton. Alicia and Scott live in Pittsburg.


While Clayton was lamenting a bone-dry December, Reykjavik, Iceland was having a record winter snowfall. Claytonians Linda Shoemaker-Haskins and husband, Will, were right in the thick of it while they were visiting her family over the holidays. This photo was taken in the heart of the city while standing on the frozen Tjörnin Lake. “The locals call this area The Pond and the church in the background is the iconic Fríkirkjan Church with its characteristic green roof. “In general, the buildings in Reykjavik are of different, rather bright colors,” says Will. The church was built in 1902

and is constructed of wood covered with metal, “a prime example of the Icelandic vernacular tradition.”


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Clayton’s Anna Chan has received another award to add to the growing collection on her office wall. Chan was honored by the Daughters of the American Revolution, Anne Loucks Chapter, with their Community Service Award. She is shown here with Helen Primus (left) and Kathy Watson (right) at the group’s monthly meeting on January 12.

What began as a quick idea for collecting unharvested fruit from neighborhood trees and donating to the local food pantry has gained nationwide recognition. Last May, Chan appeared in People Magazine as one of their Home Town Heroes. She has been featured in Diablo Magazine and was a 2009 winner of the Jefferson Award for Public Service.

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Clayton Market Update provided by George Vujnovich of Better Homes Realty ADDRESS


9 Donner Court ....................$187,000 968 Tiffin Drive ....................$489,000 1288 Shell Circle .................$315,000 8114 Marsh Creek Road......$680,000 1538 O’Hara Court .............$295,000 719 Tally Ho Court ...............$625,000 374 Blue Oak Lane..............$590,000 1181 Shell Lane ...................$330,000 510 Raven Place .................$490,500 317 Saclan Terrace..............$375,000 606 Golden Eagle Place......$445,000 356 Blue Oak Lane..............$641,000

SF . . . .1050 . . . .1670 . . . .1367 . . . .3717 . . . .1436 . . . .2300 . . . .3008 . . . .1709 . . . .2053 . . . .1749 . . . .1816 . . . .3146



. . . . .2/2 . . . . . . .1/12/12 . . . . .3/2 . . . . . . . .1/3/12 . . . . .3/2.5 . . . . .12/27/11 . . . . .4/3 . . . . . .12/27/11 . . . . .3/2 . . . . . .12/23/11 . . . . .5/3 . . . . . .12/22/11 . . . . .4/3 . . . . . .12/22/11 . . . . .3/3 . . . . . .12/19/11 . . . . .3/2 . . . . . .12/16/11 . . . . .3/2.5 . . . . .12/15/11 . . . . .3/2 . . . . . .12/15/11 . . . . .4/2.5 . . . . .12/13/11

January 27, 2012

Clayton Pioneer •

Around Town

Rare bobcat sighting in Crystyl Ranch

Girl Scouts remember moms at STAND shelter

GIRL SCOUTS BREANNA KEARNEY, Emily Rabbitt, Monishaa Suresh, Casey Mitchell, Sarah Owen, and Emmy Hurley made Christmas a little brighter for domestic violence victims.

When Clayton Senior Girl Scouts from troops 31895 and 31100 learned that the children in a local domestic violence shelter operated by STAND for Families Free of Violence had received donated gifts for

Christmas, but that not many had come in for the moms, they went into action. With contributions from the troop families and donations from the community, they assembled bright, festive gift

bags containing $500 worth of beauty items and Target gift cards for the women. The girls brought the gift bags to the shelter’s holiday party where they then entertained the children with face painting and balloons.

Church EIR, from page 1 After weeding out duplicate comments and those coming in after the deadline, the consultants are left with 88 letters and 315 comments that must be addressed in order to complete the EIR. The original contract contains a provision for amending the costs based on higher-thanexpected response to the draft report. The church objected to the added costs, saying that the consultants are professionals


$48,000,” Pierce said. “The amount is reasonable. People are passionate on both sides of the issue and they deserve a response.” Joe Medrano wanted the consultants and church to continue to “try and work something out.” David Shuey agreed that the consultants should be paid for the extra work – but only $30,000, a number he acknowledged was arbitrary. “I’m not happy with either party,” he said. “I didn’t like the tenor of that letter,” he said to Grutz-

post mountain lion warnings if they have reports of a sighting. However, “most ‘mountain lion’ sightings in the area are really bobcats,” explains Adams. A single mountain lion will range over 50,000 acres and doesn’t like to share its territory. “There are maybe three or four wandering through the whole area from Brentwood to Oakland at any one time,” Adams

estimates. While it is rare to seem them, it is not unusual behavior for the bobcat to be in a neighborhood like Crystyl Ranch, which backs up to the SMD Mangini Ranch open space. “They behave like big housecats,” he says. “They like to lie around near trails and roads where they can watch things go by.”

Short tail and high rump are characteristic of the bobcat

macher, referring to his November 11 letter. In that letter, the church accuses the city of “bias” and “risks violation of RLUIPA,” a federal law that prohibits using land use laws as a means to restrict free exercise of religion. (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.) “I take that as a threat – throwing RLUIPA at us,” Shuey bristled. “Threats won’t work.” However, he said “LSA underbid the project; it appears to be an attempt to gouge.” So, they should “split the

baby,” he said, voting against the $48,000 amendment. With the amendment and an additional deposit toward city staff time, the church will need to come up with $68,000 to complete the EIR, an amount CCC Pastor Shawn Robinson says the church doesn’t have. “We will have to go to our church family and ask them to come up with the money,” he said. “But, this is our baby, and we are prepared to go the distance. There is no turning back.”

is st L




Vladan and Gita Lunacek were treated to a rare wildlife sighting last week when a big bobcat visited near their Crystyl Ranch home. Because of its size they thought it was a mountain lion. The two cats are physically very different. A mountain lion (also called a puma or cougar) is a tawny color with has a broad head and wide set, black-tipped ears and a very long, thick tail. It can be up to eight feet long. The bobcat is smaller than a mountain lion — about the size of a boxer dog, with a short tail and dappled rump that is higher than its shoulders. Bobcats on Mt. Diablo are generally larger than those in other areas, says Seth Adams, Land Programs Director for Save Mount Diablo. Both mountain lions and bobcats are very shy and sightings are rare. Adams, who spends most of his time outdoors, says he has never seen a mountain lion on Mt. Diablo and has seen only two or three bobcats in 10 years. Park officials will sometimes



S ing

costs, according to City Attorney Mala Subramanian. “This would be considered a gift of public funds and against federal law.” Grutzmacher admitted he was wrong in his demand. “I must own up to a lack of client control on that one…my bad,” he quipped. The Council was divided 32 in its approval of the amended contract. Julie Pierce, Howard Geller and Hank Stratford approved the increase at $48,000. “I don’t know very many companies that would eat

who should have known there would be a high level of response to the controversial project and should be held to the original contract. In a five-page letter to the city dated November 11, church attorney Ed Grutzmacher chastised the city for its “inability to manage the City’s consultants,” and said if the consultants didn’t waive the extra costs, the city should pay them. The city can’t absorb the

Page 3

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Clayton Pioneer •

January 27, 2012

Grand jury investigation questions ECCFPD proposed $197 parcel tax TAMARA STEINER Clayton Pioneer


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The East Contra Costa Fire District’s plan to put a $197 parcel tax on the June ballot has come under fire by the Contra Costa County Grand Jury. In a report issued December 23, the grand jury agrees that ECCFPD must find a way to raise additional revenue if it is going to maintain the current level of service, but that the $197 proposed is too much – 50 percent too much even for the expanded services that the district plans over the next five years. The district wants to expand from six stations to eight, adding 24 firefighters and firstresponder paramedic services. The grand jury report says that the district’s current level of service is adequate and that the board should look at options

January is the month to cut and feed rose bushes

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believed that service was inadequate even before the 2010 cuts,” Henderson said. The grand jury recommends the board go back to the drawing board and come up with other options, including contracting out fire services to CalFire, before deciding to put the parcel tax on the ballot. “Only one approach to solving the problem is being presented in public information sessions,” say the jury’s findings. “The board was really aggressively unhappy with the report,” said Board Member Cheryl Morgan. “Everything they said we should do, we have either already done or are in the process of doing, except getting a CalFire bid.” Last year, the district asked for a quote from Contra Costa County to take over fire protection in East County, but the county’s cost was more than the

district is spending now for the same level of service. Morgan says the board did not ask Cal-Fire for a quote because there are too many differences in the service levels. Without the increased revenue generated by the parcel tax, the district will be forced to cut current fire protection services by half, closing three of its six stations and reducing firefighters from 48 to 24. The district plans to put the parcel tax on the June ballot. Passing the tax will be an uphill battle, says Morgan. “The county told me there are 20 other parcel tax measures on the same ballot.” Approval requires a two-thirds majority of those voting. For more information, including a schedule of public information meetings on the parcel tax, the staff reports and the grand jury report, go to

To bloom in June, prune in the gloom


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other than the parcel tax to raise revenue. ECCFPD says the grand jury’s findings fail to take into account needed funds to replace aging equipment. They say they have cut everywhere they can and have examined all options, including a failed effort last year to form a Benefit Assessment District. Despite closing two stations, cutting staff costs and deferring equipment replacement, the district will completely exhaust all reserves by the end of the 2012 fiscal year. “Many parts of the district believe that station closures and cuts already made in 2010 caused services to become inadequate,” District Chief Hugh Henderson said in his staff report to the board at the January 9 meeting. “Moreover, due to geography, some parts of the district

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walkways when planted as a tree and they edge our property lines with a rambling nature. Roses are easy to care for, but they can be so much more. It’s January, so this is my annual rose column, the one where I explain how to prune the different varieties, and fertilize. Most of the roses bushes found throughout our Clayton Valley landscapes are the hybrid-tea and floribunda varieties. Hybrid tea roses will reach 3- to 5-feet tall and wide and grow like a vase. Hybrid-tea roses were developed to have superior beauty, and are chosen for cut flowers. The rose blooms on a hybrid tea have large centered buds on straight, long stems. Floribunda roses are shaped like stiff shrubs. You can expect 3- to 4-foot tall and wide from this selection of rose. Floribunda roses have a profusion of flowers, born in clusters. Gardeners who enjoy rose trees, are enjoying a floribunda or a hybrid tree rose grafted onto a trunk. For those who have ground cover roses in their landscape, these trimming rules do not apply. PRUNING SEASON January is the time of the year that we drastically prune all of our roses, hybrid tea and floribunda alike. This is a very important pruning. With the rapid growth of a rose bush, and the extended blooming season, it is one of the only times of the year to really get control of our rose bushes. Pruning your rose bushes this year maybe slightly scary since many of them still are full of leaves and may be blooming. But you’ll have to get over it, and just do it. The basic ideas of pruning hybrid tea or floribunda roses are to control the growth, remove old canes and crossing branches, and shape the shrub. When I prune roses, I get on my knees and look at the bottom branch habit, and I begin to cut down the canes, removing all but 14-16 inches of each. The gray-colored, knobby old canes are completely removed. In a perfect world, you leave five-to-seven nice straight, strong canes. These fundamentals apply when pruning a rose tree, except you leave less cane on each plant. One very important tip is to not leave any of 2011 leaves on your rose bush. They are finished. Once it rains they will be

the first on the plant to get disease and fungus. RECIPE FOR SUCCESS When your roses are all pruned, it is time to fertilize. I do not believe that there is one product out there that gives all the proper nutrients to your roses in one box, so twice yearly we mix together this formula and feed the heck out of our roses. This feeding is for ground-grown roses bushes such as hybrid tea, floribunda, tree roses, grandiflora (if anyone still grows these) and climbers: ½ cup of 16-16-16 multi-purpose granular fertilizer – this feeds the rose from the bottom up; ½ cup of F.S.T., Iron-plus, or Dr. Iron granular – this helps keep all the leaves green; ½ cup of Alfalfa meal – this will generate basil bud growth, which turns into new canes; ½ cup Epsom Salt – this will intensify bloom color; ½ cup Bone Meal – this feeds the blooms. Every year I advise the same formula and each year I hear

ple times of week around the newly fertilized roses, if it doesn’t rain. If you are tending to container grown roses, you need to cut the quantity of fertilizer in


GARDEN GIRL half. Groundcover and miniature roses should be fed at half the recommended amount, and they only need to be shaped with pruning. I always try to get the roses pruned between Superbowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day. One extra note that doesn’t have anything to do with rose pruning: don’t be tempted to cut

CUT CANES 1/4 INCH ABOVE an outward-pointing bud at a 45to 60-degree angle.

back about the stunning results. Yes, this feeding is time consuming, and no, don’t premix a large quantity – how would you know if you apply the correct amount to each rose? After application, use your hand cultivator and work the mix into the first couple inches of the soil surrounding the entire drip line of the rose as it was at its biggest. The final step is to top-dress the fertilized area with a couple of inches of soil conditioner high in nitrogen. Doing this will help keep the product on the ground. Then water thoroughly. Hand-water or sprinkler a cou-

away any frost-damaged plant material. It is too early and the threat of frost is on going through March. Leave the damaged leaves where they are. Water plants when there is a threat of frost, spray Wilt-Stop or cover plants with a fabric cover. Happy Gardening. Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden and the 2011 Clayton Valley Garden Club president. Contact her with questions, comments or suggestions at

January 27, 2012

Clayton Pioneer •


Brian George Quinn P.O. Box 1246 6200 Center Street, Suite H, Clayton, CA 94517 TAMARA


R OBERT S TEINER , Publishers

TAMARA S TEINER , Editor P ETE C RUZ , Graphic Design P EGGY S PEAR , Copy Editor J AY B EDECARRÉ, Sports PAMELA W IESENDANGER , Administration S TAFF W RITERS : Denisen Hartlove, Lou Fancher, Nicci Shipstead, Pam Wiesendanger, Mike Dunn

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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 Website 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 250 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.

March 10, 1949 – January 13, 2012 Brian Quinn of Clayton died at home on January 13 after a long battle with lung cancer. His wife, Diana was with him. Brian attended high school in the South Bay. He graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in English. He was a sales representative for over 30 years in the office machine industry. Brian loved living in Clayton and spending time at his cabin in Calaveras Big Trees. He was a member of Ebbetts Pass Moose Lodge #1123 in White Pines,

California. Brian’s passion was golf. He was able to fulfill his dream of going to Ireland twice, playing golf there on his 60th birthday. He was a world traveler, loved cruising, and taking annual trips to Maui. He loved all sports and was an avid 49er and Giants fan. He is survived by his wife Diana Quinn, stepchildren Julie and Brian Berruto, his mother and four sisters. Funeral services were held on January 24 at Oakhurst Country Club.

Page 5

Directory of Advertisers Auto Mike's Auto Body . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-1739 Business Services Rising Moon Marketing & Public Relations . . . . .672-8717 Construction and Trades Appliance Repairs by Bruce, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2700 Belfast Plumbing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .457-5423 Black Diamond Electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .777-3440 Burkin Electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212-3339 Diablo View Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .822-5144 J&J’s Final Coat Painting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .625-5849 Steffan Smith Kitchen & Bath Remodeling . . . . .914-0497 Tipperary Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216-2679 Dentist Children’s Dentistry of Walnut Creek . . . . . . . . . .938-2392 Dining and Entertainment Clayton Club Saloon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .673-0440 Memo’s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .691-6200 Ravioli’s Italian Market Place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-3819 Subway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .693-0621 Willows Theatre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .798-1300 Financial and Insurance Services


Dawn King Bookkeeping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .933-0553 Held, Chris - Wells Fargo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .609-9415 Littorno, Richard - Attorney at Law . . . . . . . . . . . .432-4211 Miller, Tom, CPA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .354-1385 Prosperitas Wealth Management . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-7700 Snyder, Ken . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .270-3617 Travis Credit Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1-800-877-8328 Van Wyck, Doug - State Farm Insurance . . . . . . .672-2300 Funerals Ouimet Funeral Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .682-4242 Home and Garden Abbey Carpet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .686-9901 Clear Splash Pool Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216-6245



Diablo Lawnscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .381-3757 Nichols Landscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9955


Utopic Gardens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .524-0055

LIC. NO. 898331 Fully Insured

Waraner Bros. Tree Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .831-2323

Mailing Services The UPS Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-6245

Classified ROOM FOR RENT One bedroom apartment. Beautiful view of Mt. Diablo. Large kitchen and living area; marble counter tops. Large bathroom; double sinks. $1395/mo. Off Morgan Territory Road. Apply now. Call Paula 674-9214.

LOST Very special bracelet somewhere in the downtown area. Gold chain and heart designed for me by my husband who passed away recently. Please call (925) 524-0305 or turn it in to the Pioneer office, 6200 Center St., Suite H. NO QUESTIONS ASKED.

SERVICES Girl Gardening Garden care, monthly pruning and fertilizing services. Plant suggestions and installation. Call or email Nicole Hackett 673-1746, or


Optometry Foresight Optometry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-4100 Pet Services Monte Vista Veterinary Hospital . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-1100 Pet Suites Inn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .432-7387 Rodie’s Feed and Pet Supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-4600 Real Estate and Mortgage Services French, Lynne - Windermere Real Estate . . . . . .672-8787 Klock, Leigh - Coldwell Banker . . . . . . . . . . . . . .212-5593 Laurence, Pete - RE/MAX Realty . . . . . . . . . . . .890-6004 Lopez, Stephanie - Coldwell Banker . . . . . . . . . .932-7329 Mazzei, Matt -Mazzei Realty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .693-0757 Vujnovich, George - Better Homes Realty . . . . .672-4433 Recreation and Fitness All Out Sports League . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .203-5626 Clayton Valley Bowl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-4631 Diablo FC Soccer Academy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .798-4625 Earthquake Arabians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .360-7454 Senior Services Diamond Terrace Senior Retirement Living . . . . .524-5100 Services, Other Ararat Exterminators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .682-7020 Computers USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9989

Come join Mazzei Realty! Currently interviewing and hiring new and experienced real estate agents. Call 693-0757 for details. Real Estate Agents Be Successful! Lynne French is expanding and interviewing for a few agents. Call her today 672-8787.


Net Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-6029 Recycling Center & Transfer Station . . . . . . . . . .473-0180 Specialty Shops Blessed Brides by Sarah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-1200 Travel Cruise Adventures Unlimited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .935-7447 Travel to Go . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9840 Living Well

Help Fight Hunger Anna Chan – AKA: The Lemon Lady needs your help! Weekly commitment appreciated. Please contact Anna at 672-1988 or

Bella Mia Spa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .680-7792

Meals on Wheels Drivers 1 – 1 1/2 per week. Drivers and relief drivers needed for delivery of Meals on Wheels in East County. Call Jim at 673-0300 or e-mail

SNAP Fitness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .693-0110

Hospice of the East Bay – Anna’s Attic. For information call 674-9072. To learn more about volunteering for Hospice of the East Bay contact 887-5678, or email

Clayton Fitness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2010 Coflin Chiropractic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-6500 Levity Fitness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2995 Massage Envy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-3689 Thin Again . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .682-3255

Self Discipline Do the Right Thing

Page 6

Clayton Pioneer •

Creekside Arts Celebration seeking artists and artisans for March event

Please Recycle this paper IT’S NOT A QUESTION OF IT’S A QUESTION OF


The Clayton Community Library Foundation is seeking participants for its 9th annual Creekside Arts Celebration as the library celebrates its 17th anniversary with the theme, “Bringing People & Places Together.” The event, which supports cultural diversity and environmental education programs through the arts, is a major fundraiser for the Clayton Library Foundation. The weekend features entertainment for all ages, including interactive work-

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shops in visual and performing arts, art sales, cultural performances, storytelling, celebrity poetry, authors and music, environmental education groups and an exploration of Mt. Diablo Creek. Awards will be given to artists who creatively interpret this year’s theme juried by The Hearst Gallery, Art Concepts, Inc., and Arts & Culture Commission of Contra Costa County. New this year is a guided tour of artwork located throughout downtown Clayton, a ukulele jam session and art and photog-

Consider IRS rules when making a family loan

Equipped to handle all your electrical needs New construction Remodel Trouble Shooting Low Voltage Wiring


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Lending money to family members can be a great way to help them out without worrying about gift and estate tax liability. But before you get out your checkbook, it pays to do a little planning to avoid some potentially significant tax pitfalls. If your loan is $10,000 or higher, you must charge interest at a rate that’s at least as high as the applicable federal rate. If you don’t, interest may be

imputed to you – and treated as taxable income to you and as a taxable gift to the borrower. Be sure to document the loan in writing and follow the terms of the agreement. Otherwise, the IRS may argue that the loan amount was nothing more than a disguised gift, which could trigger gift tax liability. Even if you expect to forgive a portion of the loan in the future, it’s best for the borrower to make at least a few payments to help demonstrate that the loan was legitimate and avoid an IRS challenge. If the borrower defaults, make an effort to collect. This will help support your argument that the loan was legitimate and,

Father and Daughter Owned & Operated OF

raphy presentations by renowned locals. The event begins on Friday evening, March 2, at the Clayton Library and continues throughout the weekend. Artists are requested to donate $30 for space to sell their work for the weekend as well as a 20 percent of their profits toward this fundraiser to benefit the environmental education programs in the library wildlife habitat and related library materials. Artists solely entering juried artwork donate $15 for up to 3 pieces.

(925) 270-3617


January 27, 2012

if you can’t collect, may allow you to take a bad debt deduction. If you decide to forgive some or the entire loan, try to do it in increments no greater than the annual gift tax exclusion ($13,000 for 2010). There’s a common misconception that you can avoid these issues by guaranteeing a loan to a family member rather than lending the money directly. But the IRS views a loan guarantee as a transfer of value subject to gift tax. Richard A. Littorno is an attorney specializing in estate planning. He has offices in Walnut Creek and Pittsburg. Send your questions to

The Way We Were



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Clayton School The original Clayton School stood on two acres at the end of Pine Hollow Road. The land was deeded to Clayton for $1 by Joel Clayton to be used for a “public school.” Mt. Diablo Elementary School is located on the original site. The two room wooden building opened in 1863 and functioned continually until 1947 when it was torn down to make way for the current facil-

ity. In the early days, students came to school on horseback, in wagons or on foot — sometimes barefoot. By 1890 there were 111 students enrolled. But, when the school closed after 84 years of continuous operation there were only 13 students attending full time. In 1974, while the new school was under construction, Clayton students attended school in Concord.

Obtain forms at: the library or . Deadline for submission is Feb. 18. For more information, contact Arlene KikkawaNielsen, Event Director, (925) 6739777, e-mail:

County looking for Grand Jurors If you’ve ever suspected irresponsible, unethical, or wasteful practices in county government and wished something could be done about them, you may be interested in serving as a member of Contra Costa County’s watchdog agency, the Civil Grand Jury. The county is currently accepting applications to serve on this investigative body, which is an arm of the Superior Court. Unlike a criminal Grand Jury, this jury does not hear cases, but keeps watch over various aspects of the county government, including education, healthcare, law enforcement and fire fighting agencies. A new Grand jury is selected every year. Recent Grand Juries have uncovered questionable practices and issued reports on such things as the county’s many pension problems, dwindling resources for elder care, foster children in jeopardy, truancy, and impropriety in local government. The Grand Jury also shines a light on the good work being done by various entities within the county. To be a Grand Juror, you must: Be a citizen of the United States, age 18 or older and a resident of the county for at least one year; Possess ordinary intelligence, sound judgment and fair character; Possess sufficient knowledge of the English language; Never have been convicted of a felony, malfeasance or other high crime; Be able to commit to 20 hours a week to this undertaking; It is beneficial to be able to work collaboratively and to feel a genuine interest and connection to the tasks at hand. Former Grand Jurors say that while this year-long commitment is challenging, it is also gratifying. To apply, download an application from the Contra Costa County Grand Jury website ( The applications for 2012-2013 must be submitted by April 16, 2012.

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San Francisco, Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai (Nawiliwili), Maui (Lahaina), Ensenada, San Francisco. 2013: Mar 16; Apr 10, 25. Ship: Grand Princess®

2012: Apr 3; Sep 26. Ship: Star Princess®

2012: Apr 13, 28; Oct 6, 21; Nov 5, 20. Ship: Star Princess®

Port order and content for all itineraries may vary due to final berth or anchorage availability. © 2011 Princess Cruises. Ships of Bermudan registry.

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January 27, 2012

Clayton Pioneer •

The risky business of representing yourself LYNNE FRENCH

REAL ANSWERS Q. Will I save money by representing myself when buying a home instead of using a real estate agent? If so, how should I go about it? A. First of all, I want you to be aware that the commissions for properties on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) are paid by the seller. They are paid to the listing agent. The listing agent will pay the buyer’s agent a portion of that commission upon close of escrow. Usually it is 50 percent. For instance, if the commission is 6 percent of the purchase price, the buyer’s agent’s share would be 3 percent. It seems that you are asking if you can have the 3 percent to reduce the purchase price. That could be decided by the listing agent and the seller in a negotiation. But per the listing contract the listing agent gets the whole 6 percent. Real estate purchase transactions are very complicated and getting more so all the time. The real estate market is particularly litigious. In the “hot” market in 2004 and 2005, there were many “For Sale by Owner” and buyers representing themselves. Consequently, the amount of lawsuits from that period went through the roof. A lawsuit can easily wipe out much more than you might have saved. Unless you are up on all the real estate laws, I can’t imagine why you would want to go into such an important transaction without a guide. Further, the seller hired a Realtor to list their home. Obviously they believe the transaction should be handled by professionals. In addition, the listing agent is also more comfort-

able negotiating with another Realtor. A buyer without an agent to fight for their interests is at a disadvantage. Representing yourself usually won’t equate to a lower price. If you represent yourself, who would write your offer and draw up associated paperwork? If the listing agent does it for you it is considered “dual agency,” and the listing agent is entitled to the full commission. Many Realtors won’t participate in a dual agency. Their fiduciary responsibility is to the one they have a contract with. That is the seller. Finally, a couple more thoughts: If you want to buy a property for a 3 percent discount, have your Realtor reflect that in your offer. Also, if you are in a multiple offer competition, most sellers and their agents would rather work with a buyer who is represented by an agent – preferably one with a good reputation for getting the transaction closed. Q. Do I have to put a deposit into escrow when purchasing a property? If so, how much? Will I get it back if the home sale transaction doesn’t close? A. You don’t legally have to put a “good faith” deposit into escrow, but it is customary. It would be difficult to get an offer accepted without it. A deposit becomes part of your down payment when you close. In our area the deposit norm is 1 to 3 percent of the purchase price. The reason it is capped at 3 percent is because there is a clause in the purchase contract called “Liquidated Damages.” This clause reads that if the buyer defaults, the most money that is at risk is the amount of the deposit or 3 percent of the purchase price, whichever is lower. This clause puts a limit

on damages that could be awarded to the seller. An example of default could be that the buyer removes all their contingencies and subsequently backs out. Sometimes the initial buyer deposit is 1 percent of the purchase price when the offer is accepted by the seller. After the contingencies are removed (usually 17 days from acceptance) the deposit is increased, ideally to 3 percent. If you are in a multiple offer situation or you simply want your offer to be presented well, a full 3 percent good faith deposit is impressive. It could even make up for a less than 20 percent down payment such as in an FHA loan where only 3.5 percent is required. In the case of an offer on a short sale, which is numerous these days, it is negotiable whether the deposit is put into escrow when the seller signs the offer or after the bank approves the sale. Some Realtors and their sellers are requiring a deposit be put into escrow from the start to discourage buyers from making offers on more than one short sale at the same time. They would still get their deposit returned if the sale didn’t go through, but their deposit money would be tied up until that occurred. In a dispute over deposit money it is a good idea to get legal advice. In our practice we provide that for our clients. Some real estate companies are starting to do the same. Send your question & look for your answer in a future column. E-mail: 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 (925) 672-878 7 or stop in at 6200 Center Street, Suite E, in Clayton.


Refinance your home loan!

Rates haven’t been this low since the 1950’s. Refinance to a low-rate 10-year, or 15-year mortgage and you’ll pay less interest over the life of your loan. Depending on your current mortgage, you could cut years off your loan payments and own your home sooner.

10-year fixed

As low as


% APR1

15-year fixed

Club News CLAYTON VALLEY-CONCORD SUNRISE ROTARY Kash 4 Klunkers, a vehicle donation program, raised $32,000 for the Clayton Valley-Concord Sunrise Rotary Charitable Fund in 2011. All vehicles, running or not, as well as boats, trailers and RVs can be donated. Donations are tax deductible. The donation program was initiated and is managed by Dave Kemnitz of D&H Enterprises in Concord. One hundred percent of the donation is given to the Rotary for distribution to local and international charities such as Project Second Chance, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, We Care Services for Children and the Automotive Service Councils of California Educational Foundation. With increased marketing this year, Kemnitz estimates Kash 4 Klunkers will generate $100,000 minimum in donations. Kemnitz says, “It’s the best source of income for everybody and it’s doing what’s right.” For more information, call Kemnitz at 360-5260.

Page 7

As low as




30-year fixed

MARY ANN AND DAVE KEMNITZ of Clayton Valley-Concord Sunrise Rotary present a generous donation to Maylan Newton of Automotive Service Councils of California. Funds were raised by the Kash 4 Klunkers program.




Take advantage of record-low interest rates and refinance your current home loan to a new 30-year fixed rate. You’ll enjoy lower monthly payments and free up more cash for other things.

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Yes. You can join.® (888) 698-0000 Apply online: Clayton Valley Branch: 5442 Ygnacio Valley Road, Suite 10 Concord Branch: 1257 Willow Pass Road Mon. – Fri., 10 am – 5:30 pm; Sat., 10 am – 2 pm 1. APR as low as 3.75% fixed for 10 years, based on 80% loan-to-value or less. For $200,000 loan, payment would be $2,001.22. 2. APR as low as 3.99% fixed for 15 years, based on 80% loan-to-value or less. For $200,000 loan, payment would be $1,478.37. 3. APR as low as 4.49% fixed for 30 years, based on 80% loan-to-value or less. For $200,000 loan, payment would be $1,012.18. Rates as of January 20, 2012, subject to change until locked. Financing available up to $417,000 (or the conforming loan limit for your county) for owner-occupied California primary residence properties only. Applies to no cash-out refinances. With cash-out, loan-tovalue limit is 75%. Payment example does not include insurance or taxes. Property insurance required. Some restrictions may apply. If impound account for taxes and insurance is desired, you are responsible for those set-up amounts and any charges assessed by your current lender such as reconveyance fees, payoff demand fees, pre-payment penalties and any interim interest collected at closing. Please consult your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of interest and charges. Offers cannot be combined with other discounts or promotions. Everyone who lives, works, or attends school in Contra Costa or Alameda County, part of our 12-county area, is eligible to join. Certain membership requirements may apply. NMLS registered. Equal Housing Lender

Page 8

Clayton Pioneer •

Happy New Year & how about a new home for you! d sell Petn c e an !

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Let your body boss you around



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Our bodies are very similar to our parents, teachers, bosses and coaches. They demand we make responsible choices and work hard to be successful. They expect us to wake up on time, show up when we’re suppose to and hand things in when they’re due. Our bodies are just as demanding. Our bodies expect us to eat balanced meals containing complex carbohydrates, protein, fruit and vegetables, healthy fat, and goodies every now and then. They also thrive on smaller meals throughout the day, the proper amount of calories for our body size and activity, and all the little things such as not eating at all hours of the night, not skipping meals and not loading our bodies with innutritious meals.

As you may have noticed, hemlines have come down. Maybe it’s the recession (skirts went long in the Great Depression), but whatever it is, I’m

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Clayton, CA 94517

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You must always consider the consequences for your actions. Your mom yells at you when you don’t wake up on time. Your boss threatens to fire you if you don’t hand in the next assignment on time. Your body does the same thing through extra weight, decreased energy and low self-esteem – all results of irresponsible choices in our nutrition habits. We are successful in so many other areas of our life – career, parenting, education, relationships and hobbies, but when it comes to eating healthy we are about as successful as that 12th grader who did whatever they wanted in high school. You know, the one who realized way too late you can’t have instant gratification all your life if you want to be successful. After realizing this, they hoped to turn things around the last couple months after spending their entire high school career making irresponsible choices. How many times have we tried a fad diet or insisted we were going to eat healthy for a few weeks in hopes of changing all of our bad habits over the years? It doesn’t work that way in

life and it doesn’t work that way with our bodies if we want to be successful. Why don’t we go to the casinos more, sleep in until noon, not do laundry, stay up late at night? Because there are consequences. Why do we eat 2,000 calories in one sitting, skip breakfast, eat junk food all day long and neglect the nutrients our bodies crave? Demand more of yourself when it comes to nutrition. Our parents, teachers, bosses and coaches demand more and hold us accountable. Do the same for yourself. Be tolerant and understanding of your imperfections, but don’t justify and forgive yourself every chance you get. The most important consequences of our lives are staring us in the face – our healthy or unhealthy bodies. Be creative when it comes to nutrition. Make it fun. Get together with friends and family and figure out ways to help each other. We do this at work, school or for a social club, why shouldn’t we do it for our No. 1 priority – ourselves? Ilima Heuerman holds multiple fitness certifications. She trains at Levity Fitness studio in Clayton. Email Ilima at

Hemlines are heading south this winter


1026 Oak Street, Suite 200

January 27, 2012


We are committed to serving the Clayton Community.

happy about it. The key is knowing how to wear those hemlines. In my opinion, the best length for women our age is at or just below the kneecap. It’s ideal for work or cocktails. If you’re tall, wear a slightly longer length (two inches below the kneecap). If you’re short, hem the skirt to just above the kneecap to give the illusion of longer legs and wear as high a heel as you can stand. In winter, it’s best to wear hosiery; either narrow ribbed, sheer black or opaque in a jewel tone. Avoid all-over busy patterns in hose, and lace is definitely out. Nothing looks better with a knee-length skirt than a classy pump. The heel can be stacked, square, slim or chunky. Flats are not an option here. Always – and I mean always – wear this length with a heel. Mid-calf is another option. A long, lean pencil skirt will flatter most women because it draws an elongated line. A wool tweed would be perfect with a crisp cotton shirt and a rich,


FASHION OVER 50 clunky necklace. Tall, sleek boots look best with this length. And, please, no flats, booties or strappy sandals. The maxi made a big comeback last year. Diane Keaton is the patron saint of this look. Think about menswear fabrics in a column shape. Almost any shoe goes with this look; flats, wedges, boots (which are my favorite). Just make sure you wear a heavy shoe. A maxi needs heft and presence to balance the weight of the style. You’ve never had more choices when it comes to skirt length. So make it a point to try something new. You may be surprised at the reaction. Live long and pester! Judith Marshall is the author of “Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever,” available at the Royal Rooster in Clayton.

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Mayor, from page 1 Like a rolling stone, the momentum picked up and their support group increased. They never faltered through the arduous task laid before them. Donations came in, t-shirts were created and teachers and the community were polled. The resounding result is a charter high school in place to enhance the education of our youth. In the media we read of the trials, tribulations and barriers to overcome by these unwavering and dedicated people. I will not be repetitive of these obstacles. Instead, I take my hat off to all of you; no matter how big or small a part you played in getting the Contra Costa County Board of Education to approve the Clayton Valley Charter High School. I hope to see all of you at the ribbon cutting later this year. PARK CITY I recently took a drive to our Clayton Community Park to see

the city’s expanded parking lot project. Our new parking lot is completed. Diablo View Middle School parents now have access options to pick up and drop off their children through this lot. The additional parking is beneficial to the many sports teams that use the fields and will alleviate overflow event parking in nearby neighborhoods. My heart swelled seeing the beauty our city has to offer. Our fields glistened as the sun began to set. People were walking dogs, families were cleaning up after their outing and children were playing on the tot lot and in the fields in the fresh crisp air. If you have not visited our Community Park to see all the amenities it has to offer, put this on your to-do list. Located next to Diablo View Middle School, this action packed, three-tiered park now has plenty of parking and convenience. You might be surprised to see how much it offers to all ages.

CREWS CONTROL Our maintenance crews continue to clean up after Mother Nature. In preparation for spring, they are raking, pruning, replanting and repairing sprinkler systems. It’s a never-ending job. If you pass our crews out there in the streets, please slow down. Wave or give them a friendly smile in appreciation of the great job they do. THE RIGHT KIND Recognizing students for our “Do The Right Thing” program has turned out to be one of my favorite responsibilities at City Council meetings. This month, it was my honor to recognize students that exemplified the trait of “kindness.” The following students received certificates: Molly Moylan, Jack Dress, Brett Riessen, Sierra Heuser, Ben Linzey and Zoey Dow. In closing, a quote from FDR, “We can’t always build the future for our youth. But, we can build our youth for the future.” Email questions and comments for the mayor to

January 27, 2012

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 9

I was a teenage germaphobe

SARAH ROSEN TEEN SPEAK Armed with sweetly scented hand sanitizer in one hand and a Clorox wipe in the other, I make my way down Clayton Valley High’s germ-infested hallways, fighting bacterium one by one. This pretty much sums up my life as a germaphobe during cold and flu season. To help shed some light on just how germaphobic I am, let me tell you, my readers, what Chanukah gift was bestowed upon me this holiday season. My parents, being the wise people they are, remembered that with my leaving for college next fall, I’m going to be in the midst of “Germ City.” Thus, they invested

Travis Credit Union offers scholarships College-bound seniors whose families belong to the Travis Credit Union can get a boost with their college expenses, as the Vacaville-based credit union announced it is offering $20,000 worth of scholarships. Each applicant must be a high school senior with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, bound for a two- or four-year college or university and a member of Travis Credit Union in good standing. Students who live in Travis Credit Union’s 12-county service region and are not yet members may join the credit union and apply for a scholarship at the same time. “In the last eight years, we have received a tremendous response from young members who have exhibited a commitment to academic excellence and community service," says Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, Travis Credit Union president and CEO. "We look forward to recognizing even more of our deserving young members this year,” The credit union will award 20 scholarships of $1,000 each. In addition to a completed application, other requirements include a 250-word essay, a certified high school transcript and a letter of recommendation from a teacher. Completed applications must be received no later than the close of business Monday, March 12, 2012. Scholarship applications are available at any branch location or students may apply online at Travis Credit Union’s website,

in a UV light toothbrush cleaner. Pathetic? Maybe so, but I will go to great lengths to stay healthy. At the start of each school year, I make my annual pilgrimage to Bath and Body Works to stock up on the necessity of every germaphobic student: hand sanitizer. Scented hand sanitizer, to be exact. My goal is that if surrounding peers smell the sweet and intoxicating scents of my sanitizer, they will be so inclined to ask to use some of it, thus stopping the spread of their germs. With school being a cesspool of germs and bacteria alike, I like to prepare myself for what starts just before winter break and toward the end of the first semester-cold and flu season.

“Bob!” I have been hit by the infamous cold. Despite my best efforts I have been infected by those few stubborn students who refuse to just stay in bed to get well, rather than attend school and infect everyone else. This article serves as a plea to you people out there. You know who you are. May this be a reminder to get those flu shots, use that hand sanitizer, and maybe even use a Clorox wipe to clean off that desk you so chose to fall asleep and drool on during math class. We germaphobics thank you. Sarah Rosen is a senior at CVHS. You can e-mail her at

Wendy Tokuda to chair Concord High’s Red and White Ball The award-winning Tokuda, well-known Concord High School anchorperson and Minutemen Band stureporter in the Bay dents and the Concord Area for nearly 30 years. High Band Boosters The ball is at 6 p.m. invite all to their annuon Saturday, Feb.18, in al dinner-dance-aucConcord High School’s tion-raffle-entertain- WENDY TOKUDA Multipurpose Room at ment fundraising 4200 Concord Blvd., event: “The Red & White Ball.” Concord. Honorary chair for this postProceeds benefit the CHS Valentine celebration is Wendy Instrumental Music Program

supporting Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Stage Band, Jazz Ensemble, Rally Band and Marching Band. Tickets are $30/person through Jan. 31, then $35/person. Sponsors are requested for donations toward the event also. Contact Sol Cuenco for tickets and/or sponsorship information at or 676-5905.

New book looks at history of Rose Hill Cemetery

THE ROSE HILL CEMETERY in Black Diamond Preserve is the resting place for many local pioneer families.

One of the most interesting studies in a region’s history is that of its local cemeteries, and the Clayton Library will highlight that when it hosts author Traci Parent, who will talk about her new book, “Rose Hill: A Comprehensive History of a Pioneer Cemetery.” This new book, published this year by the East Bay Regional Park District, looks at Rose Hill, now a part of Black Diamond Mines Regional Pre-

Charter, from page 1 vote. “Hopefully the charter will work with the district so that the other students in the district will be held harmless.” According to charter steering committee member David Shuey, that’s their intention. “We want to reach out and heal the wounds,” he said at a recent Clayton City Council meeting, suggesting the charter may form a committee that would meet with the school board and city representatives a couple of times a year to iron out issues. “We want to take the high road.” Questions still remain as to the amount of money some claim the charter will siphon

Cold and flu season is just about the worst time to be a student. If you cram 30-40 students in a confined area, close the doors and windows to keep out the winter chill, and throw in one student with a cold, or a cough even, what do you get? A school-wide cold epidemic and half-full classrooms with the few remaining healthy students on the cusp of getting sick and those few students who are too stubborn to admit they’re sick and choose to return to school anyway. I bitterly write this article from my cozy bed in the middle of a school day, tissue box at my side and hot tea on my nightstand. Each time I call out, “Mom!” it sounds as if I’m croaking out,

from the rest of the district. The estimates range from $1.7 million to over $4 million. At the county meeting, however, Superintendent Steven Lawrence said that the financial impact of the charter is as yet undetermined. “We believe at the end of the day, at the end of the first year we will know all of the funding impact of the charter,” he said. Now that the hurdle of approval has been overcome, charter organizers have a long todo list before opening as a charter in fall 2012. The twelve conditions set by the county in its approval include a summer transition program including specific targeted instruction for English

serve in Antioch. Parent is a Supervising Naturalist for the park district, and the book is based on her 30 years of research into the history of the people buried there. From the 1860s to the turn of the 20th century, Black Diamond was the site of California’s largest coal-producing region. Known as the Mount Diablo Coal Field, the area once boasted the five thriving communities of Nortonville,

learners, a revised student expulsion policy and proof of the charter’s $2 million line of credit. Charter school organizer Neil McChesney remained unfazed. “There’s a ton of work to do,” he said. “We realize the scope of work is massive, but there are so many people jumping on board and ready to lend a hand, it’s amazing. I have no fear that we won’t accomplish all of our tasks and do a better job than ever before.” In addition to county requirements, the task of finding an executive director to guide the school looms large. The nationwide search process has already begun with the job description posted on various job boards. According to McChesney, within 48 hours of posting, the commit-

Somersville, Stewartville, West Hartley and Judsonville. Rose Hill Cemetery was created in the early 1860s and served as a Protestant burial ground for the coal field families. Although over 200 burials have been documented through research, it is likely that more internments exist. Once the site of neglect and vandalism, the cemetery and many of its gravestones have been painstakingly restored over recent decades by Park District rangers. Researched over three decades through newspaper accounts, obituaries, and family histories, “Rose Hill: A Comprehensive History of a Pioneer Cemetery” is the only comprehensive account of the people interred in the cemetery. Parent’s presentation will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 29, at Hoyer Hall. For more information, visit the library’s website at For more information about obtaining the book or visiting Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, contact the East Bay Regional Park District at or by calling the Park District at 888-3272757.

tee tasked with finding the executive director was already receiving resumes. “We’re looking for a dynamic individual who’s got experience. A people person, a good communicator and a leader,” said McChesney. ”Someone who people will want to follow... and someone who inspires other people to lead, as well.” Meanwhile, Clayton Mayor Howard Geller is ecstatic over what the future holds for the community overall. “With the support of such a strong alumni and community, the transformation of CVHS has begun,” he said. “I have 100 percent confidence in the charter school’s board, and can’t wait for the ribbon cutting of our new charter school.”

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Clayton Pioneer •

January 27, 2012


Sports editor Jay Bedecarré is taking a short leave. In his absence, please send sports items to Jay will be back in February.

Eagles star Alison Marines keeps her goals in mind Senior soccer standout reflects on her long career while looking ahead RANDY ROWLAND Special to the Pioneer

The 2011-2012 season is entering the last few weeks for the Clayton Valley Eagles girls soccer team, and for the seniors, the end of their high school playing careers. For senior Alison Marines, the season is the culmination of a long and fulfilling journey that began 12 years ago in 2000. Marines had started out participating in jazz and ballet dance for two years, until she signed up for U8 soccer with Concord AYSO. With father Russ Marines coaching her, Alison quickly found soccer to be a sport that matched her competitive spirit with the love of playing team sports. Interestingly enough because of playing catch with her dad, she initially started out playing goalkeeper, but her speed and endurance made her a natural on the field and she quickly found a spot on the forward line. “I love playing up top because it allows me to use my abilities to my advantage,” she says. “And scoring is pretty fun too.” VELOCITY ORIGINAL Marines quickly excelled in AYSO youth soccer and played on a U10 Concord select team that went on to win several tournaments, including the Davis World Cup. During the spring of 2002 Marines was undoubtedly a fast rising player and it was

time to make the move to a competitive team. She tried out and made the U10 class I teams at Walnut Creek and MDSL, and chose MDSL because Adam Cooper, head soccer coach of the recent “Elite Eight” St. Mary’s Gaels, was the technical director of the club at that time. MDSL Velocity became one of the club’s founding members, and in fact Marines is the only one of the original 11 girls that started hat team to remain for all nine years of Class I competition. MDSL Velocity U10-U14 seasons included two first place and two second place gold finishes in GSSL league, and two consecutive appearances in the CYSA State Cup semi-finals. During the transition to U15 and the subsequent merger with DVSC to form Diablo Futbol Club, Velocity continued to be one of the most dominant teams in the club with consistent top 10 rankings in Northern California, and Marines has been a big reason for that success. She has led the team in goals several seasons, but the many assists she had provided to teammates demonstrate what a play maker and team player she is. She has also played as a guest player for a Diablo FC team in National Championships in Virginia, scoring three goals in the tournament, and has travelled to showcase tournaments up and down the West Coast. Over the past two seasons her DFC team has been coached by another St Mary’s college coach, Scott Alexander. Marines credits Alexander in part for becoming the player she is today, saying “Scott has taught me how to excel at my positions and how to

Photo credit: Kim Wakida

ALISON MARINES MAKES HER tournament in November.


take advantage of that when college coaches watch. He always looks out for us and helps us as much as possible with the college process.” Likewise Alexander spoke highly of his player. “Ali is a quick, creative, and very dangerous player. She has been a solid

playing for Diablo FC ‘93 Velocity in the Las Vegas showcase

and consistent goal-scorer for this team over the past several years and is a great leader who consistently demands the most of herself,” adding that he has no doubts she can play at the next level. “She is fully capable of continuing her playing career at the collegiate level, it’s simply

a matter of Ali continuing the process and finding the best fit for her,” he added, noting that she has received interest from several schools, including St. Mary’s. TEAM LEADER At Clayton Valley Marines

has been a Varsity player for three years and has been an invaluable contributor to the success of the girls team. Varsity Coach Scott Booth says of Marines, “Alison is a dynamic player with the ability to “shake” her opponents with ease. She has predominately played as a forward, however this year we are playing her as an attacking mid. Her moves and lethal striking ability make her a real threat in this position. This year as a senior she was selected by her teammates as team captain, and those leadership qualities have been on display on a squad with few seniors.” Moving to a new position as center attacking midfielder , Marines has been impressive in the attack, assisting on a large number of goals, but still finding the net herself with regularity. Looking back at her club and high school career, Marines acknowledges the friendships and relationships she has built. She recalls the fantastic goals she scored, including a game winner against State Champions San Juan and Mustang Rampage. Marines hopes to continue her soccer career by playing college ball after graduation. She has received interest from several schools including Chico State and University of Miami, and is also considering other schools such as Chapman, UC Santa Cruz and San Jose State. Wherever her future takes her, Marines looks back on her soccer playing career fondly. “Soccer has really made me the person I am today,” she says.” It gave me confidence, a drive, a sense of loyalty, a second family, a way to stay healthy, and so much more. “

Clayton’s Kelsey Brassil to lead Woodlands Swim Team PEGGY SPEAR Clayton Pioneer

Kelsey Brassil hasn’t ever had a summer vacation. It’s not to say she hasn’t taken trips with her family, or that she doesn’t enjoy the months of June, July and August. But for this Clayton native, summer has always meant the pool and swim team. Dana Hills Swim Team, to be exact. From the time she was three until she was 18, she swam on the team, and was an assistant coach for six seasons. “I think there’s chlorine in my blood,” she says. But this year, the Carondelet and University of Oregon graduate is moving from her home deck in Clayton down Ygnacio

Valley Road to take over as head coach of the Woodlands Swim Team in Walnut Creek. “I am thrilled,” she says. “I never expected this to happen. It’s like it was meant to be.” “It” was a head coaching position. Brassil had already alerted the Dana Hills coaching staff and board that she would not be returning in the summer of 2012, seeking to start pursuing her teaching credential. But when Woodlands head coach Eric Wyles suddenly resigned, the stars began to align. “It suddenly made so much sense to me,” Brassil says. “I am looking forward to the new challenge, both a new team and a new job as a head coach. Woodlands is a lot like Dana Hills in its tradition of excellence and its

sense of involvement.” It’s a sentiment shared by her new team. “We couldn’t have asked for better fit than Kelsey,” says Julie Henderson, director of WST. “She gets it that recreational swimming is so much more than just a sport; it is a lifestyle than includes the whole family, and it has to be fun and rewarding.” It was that sense of tradition that drew Brassil to the Woodlands and her new job. Established in 1962, the 50-year-old team is one of the oldest in the county, and has been a Walnut Creek powerhouse throughout the years. Last year, it took first place in the Contra Costa Valley Swim Conference league meet, and second overall at the Walnut Creek City Meet. Its alums include many Olympians and

Junior Olympians. But it is also known for its strong sense of family, something Brassil knows well from her years at Dana Hills. “When I was in high school, I went to Carondelet, so I called Dana Hills my summer family. I grew up there, and I won’t forget everything I learned.” One of the things that every swim coach has to learn at some time or another is how to deal with pesky parents. Luckily, Brassil says that doesn’t scare her. “The trick is getting to know everyone, understand the family dynamics. Once I have those lines of communication open, it’s generally easier to relate to each other.”

See Brassil, page 13

CLAYTON NATIVE, KELSEY BRASSIL, will move from her home deck at the Dana Hills Swim Club to the Woodlands Swim Club in Walnut Creek in 2012, where she will be their first woman head coach. She is shown here at the City Meet awards dinner last August with Dana Hills swimmer, Jack Skow, 7.


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January 27, 2012

Clayton Pioneer •

Sports CVHS wrestlers have no problem grappling with success RANDY ROWLAND Special to the Pioneer

The 15th Annual Clayton Valley Invitational wrestling tournament was held the weekend of Jan. 14-15, in Concord, and for the first time in the history of the event, the home team Eagles took team honors and won first place. The Invitational attracts team from all over the Bay Area and Northern California, and this year was no exception, as teams from West Valley High in Redding and Bear Creek of Stockton spent the weekend grappling on the mats of the large and small gyms at CVHS. The event features 14 weight classes from 106 to 285 pounds. Clayton Valley High School had 35 wrestlers participating in the event. Of those, seven took individual honors, including three gold medals won by Seniors Troy Lakin in the 106lb. division, senior Bryan Jiminez at 132 pounds, and Matt McCoy at 138 pounds. Another senior, Ethan Smith, placed 5th overall at 285 pounds, as did junior Logan Bangert at 182 pounds, and sophomore Michael Nocerino at 152 pounds. Another sophomore, Danny Condon, finished in 6th place in the 120-lb. division. HOME-TOWN COACH The Eagles wrestling program continues to improve under the leadership of Coach Kyle Behmlander, who is in his 11th season with the school, and seventh as head coach. As a Clayton Valley alum, and a proud member of the community, his ties to the program go backthree decades. As a student, Behmlander wrestled four years from 1986-1989. When he came back to the program in 2002 the program was struggling and the number of wrestlers dwindling. In a little over a decade the program has grown to this 2011/12 season where 35 boys are a part of the team, and Clayton Valley is gaining respect around the area as a team to be reckoned with. Currently, the Eagles are about halfway through their season, and Coach Behmlander hopes their success at the tournament is a springboard for success the rest of the way.

Page 13

Brassil, from page 12 Brassil has already met with the Woodlands’ five assistant coaches, and hopes to get together with the team’s teenage swimmers soon. “The 15-18s are the heart of the team, and it can be disconcerting to have a new coach come in,” she says. “I just want to make sure they are comfortable with me.” One thing that stood out to Brassil is that she is the first female head coach the team has had in nearly two decades. “While it’s not unusual to

have a female swim coach, men still far outnumber the women in that role, at least around here,” she says. “ I look forward to being a good role model for the younger swimmers.” In fact, being a role model was one of the things that first drove Brassil to coaching. “When I was younger, I thought my swim coaches were gods,” she says. “I really looked up to them. It makes me happy that I might be able to motivate kids like that, and be a positive influence in their lives.”

St. Bonnie’s boys basketball gives big to Crisis Nursery The St. Bonaventure 5th grade Boys American Basketball Team raised $500 for the Bay Area Crisis Nursery from their recent tournament at the Clayton Community Gym. The team, coached by Brian McCoy, Jenni Brennan and Bill Morrissette, played against teams from St. Perpetua, St. Agnes, Queen of All Saints, St. Isadore, Christ the King and St. John Vianney. Photo credit: Rhonda McCoy

CLAYTON VALLEY’S TROY LAKIN takes down Taco Coronado of Firebaugh High at the Lemore meet in December.

“Last year the Invitational was a turning point in our season,” Behmlander said, “and we are hoping to do that this year and hitting our stride at the right time.” The home tournament proved to be a suspense-filled and dramatic event, with the home town Eagles coming from behind and ending the tournament with a 2-1/2 point edge over second place College Park. Livermore finished the team scoring in 3rd place. “Every point was important, and we could not have won without every one of these boys contributing,” said Behmlander. COLLEGE-BOUND LAKIN The team championship came down to Lakin’s final match at 106 pounds against Joey Vigil of Heritage. Lakin pulled out a 20-5 win after scoring a technical fall over Vigil. Lakin, who qualified for the State Championships as a junior after a top-4 finish at the North Coast Sectionals, has become one of the leaders on the team. Lakin began wrestling at the Concord Youth Club and enjoyed it so much he tried out at Clayton Valley and has been on the Varsity squad for four years. As he continued to improve both his strength and

technique, he became one of most consistent and strongest wrestlers in the county, and Bay Area. Last year at State was “an awesome experience, and being able to compete at that level was incredible,” said Lakin. He hopes and expects to meet the challenges ahead and qualify, and this time, place at the State meet this year. Lakin already has an overall record of 24-3 and recently was invited to the prestigious Doc Buchanon Invitational in Clovis, where he took fifth place against some of the best wrestlers in the state, including a loss to the #1 ranked wrestler from St. John Bosco. Lakin has really enjoyed his past four years competing for the Eagles and is considering wrestling in college. He has expressed interest in Central College of Iowa for his wrestling and university future. Meanwhile, he is going to continue to work hard for the rest of this campaign and reach all of his goals. “All of the hard work, and being able to succeed, get a ranking and recognition, is really cool,” he says. Behmlander for his part is thrilled to have Lakin, noting his state top-4 ranking, and number ranking in the section. He thinks Lakin can compete

at the next level. “It is up to him,” said the coach, “but he has the drive and ability to do that.” TEAM EFFORT However Behmlander is equally proud of all of the wrestlers in his program. “This group, I can say, I am very proud of. We had a good group of freshmen, and everyone is working hard and showing how to lead.” He cites senior Radcliff Humphrey, who was coming off an injury but scored valuable team points at the CV Invitational. Other examples are freshman Mustafa Sherdil, who won in his first varsity match, and sophomore Condon who is only in his second year of wrestling. “He has high energy and never quits,” Behmlander said of Condon. “He wrestled tough, he has a great attitude, and is a quiet leader.” The coach is confident the team will qualify most of its team for NCS, and improve on last year’s seventh place finish. “Hopefully we are hitting our stride. We surprised a lot of people last year, and with the hard work, blood, sweat and tears, we are pushing,” Behmlander said.

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Clayton Pioneer •

January 27, 2012

Clayton Community Calendar for residential and commercial clients

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IN CLAYTON Feb. 2 Social Hour Hosted by Oakhurst Business Network. Join this newly-formed group for hosted hors d’oeuvres and drink specials. 5 – 6:30 p.m. Diablo View Room & Terrace, Oakhurst County Club, 1001 Peacock Creek Dr. 672-9737.

Feb. 11 Chamber Music SF

Feb. 12 Camellia Tea

The Tokyo Quartet. 2:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. Tickets on sale Feb. 10 at 12 a.m. 943-7469.

38th annual celebration. Coffee, tea and treats to honor Clayton’s pioneering families. 1 – 4 p.m. Clayton Museum, 6101 Main St.

Feb. 12 Diablo Symphony Orchestra

EVENTS AND ENTERTAINMENT Jan. 27, 28 “Snoopy” Civic Arts Education’s Youth Theatre Company performs a musical about Snoopy. Del Valle Theatre, 1963 Tice Valley Blvd., Walnut Creek. $14$16.50. 943-7469.

World premiere of Brian Copeland’s new solo play about his personal struggle with depression. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $40. 943-7469.

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Jan. 27-29 “The Gondoliers” Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta involving a pair of handsome Venetian gondola oarsmen and a mix up of identities at birth. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $48-$63. 943-7469.

Tree Service – ISA Certified Arborist on Staff Clayton Resident

Jan. 27 thru Feb. 25 “Arms and the Man” License # 958849

Five-mile hike with 900-foot elevation gain/loss. 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Meet at Clayton park-n-ride at corner of Peacock Drive and Clayton Road.

Owners Valerie O’Connell (Clayton resident, 30 years) & daughter Colleen O’Connell

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1610 Locust St., Walnut Creek

Jan. 30 thru Mar. 3 “A Light in the Piazza” Romance and intrigue in Italy during the summer of 1953. Willows Theatre, 1975 Diamond Blvd., Concord., 798-1300.

This bittersweet comedy combines poignancy and laughter as it traces an unlikely romance. Diablo Actors’ Ensemble, 1345 Locust St., Walnut Creek. $15-$25.

Thru Feb. 10 “Rent” Rock opera about a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create. 8 p.m. Las Lomas High School Theatre, 1460 S. Main St., Walnut Creek. $14-$17. 324-7359.

Smuin Ballet. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $54-$67. 943-7469.

Feb. 10 thru Mar. 3 “The Philadelphia Story” Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $22. 943-7469.

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The Clayton Library is at 6125 Clayton Road. Programs are free unless otherwise noted. 673-0659 or

Wednesdays Book Buddies

7 – 8 p.m. Register with the library.

Feb. 1-29 Go Bananas for Books Children kindergarten through third grade. Pick up reading record at Information Desk. Color banana for each book read. Pick up prize after 29 books.

Feb. 7, Feb. 14, Feb. 21, Feb. 28, Mar. 6 Paws to Read Grades 1 through 5. Read aloud to a dog to encourage children to read. Maximum three sessions. Registration required. 4:30 p.m.

Feb. 13 Book Club Sunny Solomon leads discussion of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson. Open to anyone interested. 7 p.m.

Thru Mar. 6 Patty Cakes Story time for babies to three-year-olds. Attend with caregiver. Drop in at 11 a.m.


Feb. 3, 4 Winter Program

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Clayton Valley High School bands’ evening of entertainment, dinner and auction. 6 p.m. CVHS Multi-Use Room, 1101 Alberta Way, Concord. $15 by Feb. 10; $20 after.,

Feb. 1 SAT Essay Workshop

Feb. 10 thru Mar. 3

We Specialize in the Treatment of Infants, Children and Young Adults

Feb. 25 An Evening in New York - Broadway Bound

A volunteer will read stories for children of all ages. 1-2 p.m.

Five clever and imaginative one-act plays based on Greek mythology. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $10-$14.50. 943-7469.

10/6, 10/21, 11/5 and 11/20

Concord High School Band Boosters’ post-Valentine’s Day celebration. 6 p.m. CHS Multi-Use Room, 4200 Concord Blvd. $30 by Jan. 31; $35 after., 676-5905.

Meet those who can help improve speaking and leadership skills. 7 p.m. Montecito – Oakmont Senior Living, 4756 Clayton Road, Concord., Marc Ventura 524-0443.

Feb 2-4 “It’s All Greek to Me”

15 nights

Feb. 18 Red & White Ball

Jan. 30 Toastmasters Open House

Thru Feb. 5 “Frankie and Johnnie in the Clair de Lune”

Sailings in Fall 2012

Group discussion based on video. 9 a.m. Clayton Valley Presbyterian Church, 1578 Kirker Pass Road, Clayton. 672-4848.


Jan. 29 Moss Rock Hike

dtrip n u o R o c s i c San Fran to Hawaii

Sundays thru Feb. 12 “The Foundations of Western Civilization”

Knights of Columbus #6038. All you can eat. Raffle. 6 p.m. St. Bonaventure Large Hall, 5562 Clayton Road, Concord. $38. Reservations required. Pat Deplazes 685-0573 or Bob Maluccelli 6740920.

Four-mile hike with one strenuous climb. 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Meet at hiker gate on Crystyl Ranch Drive.


Feb. 10 Baha’i, interaction, fellowship and discussion. Speaker: Dr. Diane Hill. 7:30 p.m. Free. For directions, call 672-6686.

Jan. 28 “An Evening of SAKI”

Jan. 28 Family Hike at Mangini Ranch

Cruise Adventures Unlimited Serving all cruise lines since 1987


Feb. 4 Crab Feed

Comics Joe Klocek and Myles Weber plus award-winning a cappella group Houseblend perform. 8 p.m. Campbell Theatre, 636 Ward St., Martinez. $18., 798-1300.


A romantic evening of international music and song performed by celebrated musician and singer Naresh Michael. 7:30 p.m. Campbell Theatre, 636 Ward St., Martinez. $25., 798-1300.

A charming tale of romance going awry. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $38-$43. 943-7469.

Jan. 28 Comedy at Campbell’s

Special pricing, wine and shipboard credits on all sailings

Feb. 14 That’s Amore


The short stories of H. H. Munro. A reader’s theater celebrating the mischievous, witty and sometimes macabre short stories of Saki. 8 p.m. Cue Productions Live, 1835 Colfax St., Concord. $20 in advance.

s e s i u r C s s e c n i r P

Bay Area violinist Karen Shinozaki performs. 7:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $12-$20. 943-7469.

Jan. 27, 28 “The Waiting Period”

Commercial & Residential

“Legally Blonde” Elle Woods proves being true to yourself never goes out of style. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $34-$48. 943-7469.

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1st and 3rd Tuesdays Clayton City Council 7 p.m. Hoyer Hall, Clayton Library, 6125 Clayton Road. 673-7304 or

2nd and 4th Tuesdays Clayton Planning Commission 7 p.m., Hoyer Hall, Clayton Library, 6125 Clayton Road. 673-7304 or

January 27, 2012

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 15

Bringing a new cat into the family takes time and patience ELENA BICKER

PET PALS There’s a new cat in town, and you want to make sure things stay neighborly. A slow, respectful introduction to the original feline residents is the best way to keep everyone in their comfort zone. Take the first step towards a peaceful multi-cat household by designating separate spaces for

each pet. Your resident cat just learned that he’s no longer sheriff in town, while the whole world has been turned upsidedown for the new addition. He will need a cozy spot in which to acclimate to your household. Make a laundry room or guest bathroom comfortable with his new kitty belongings. Provide food, water, a litter box, toys, bedding, and a place he can hide when he finds it necessary, like a cat condo. Allow about one week for the new cat adjust to

this space before trying to introduce him to any other fourlegged friends. Your cat community will quickly figure out that there is another feline present, but give them several days to sniff each other through the door. Another great way to familiarize them with each other is to exchange their bedding so each cat can capture the other one’s scent. After the sniff test, it’s time for a meet and greet through a cracked door.

Smores and Maggie are ARF’s adoption Stars


Nine-month-old Smores is a playful, happy-go-lucky Rat Terrier mix with a big bubbly personality in a small body! He loves to find new toys, play fetch with his humans, and play chase with his doggie friends. Smores would prefer a home with older or no children. The adoption fee for adult dogs is $225 and includes 60% off one 7-week dog training session. Maggie has an easy going personality. Like her namesake


Maggie Simpson, this Maggie has a habit of sucking on her arm. We think it’s pretty cute! Maggie enjoys some gentle petting and playing with toys, though she would really prefer just to hang out near you. 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: Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, 3 to 7 p.m. Thurs-

day and Friday, Noon to 5 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 website,, or call 925.256.1ARF.

Have a plan in place before the lights go out Ever thought about what you would do without electricity, power or gas for more than a couple of days? Batteries die because you can’t charge them in your home. No mobile phone/ cell/smartphone or, potentially, landline service or coverage. Definitely no WiFi or digital media. Darkness at night – you laugh but try it sometime and you’ll know what I’m talking about. No gas, so that means cold nights during the winter and no air-conditioning during the summer to escape the heat. No TV or satellite. The kids can’t watch a DVD or play with the computer – oh no! And you can’t use any social media to see what’s happening or to stay in touch. Imagine the chaos! So how can you stay connected to the outside world when you can’t use anything with an ON/OFF switch or button? Do you have a plan? How will people you know in different parts of the country/world know you are okay? How will you survive the days of quiet and being disconnected? How will you cope with the real world now that you can’t “plug in,” so to speak?


SAFETY ZONE These are very real things to think about. I recently finished reading an excellent book called “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen. If you enjoy novels, this one is riveting and very informative and an easy threeday read. Heck, you might even get a few ideas of your own about how to make the best of a disaster. Bottom line, have a plan with your family that includes where to meet in case you can’t reach each other electronically. Get to know your neighbors and advise them of your plans, and vice versa. You may even consider establishing a central location and times for all of your neighbors to “swap information” and to keep updated on the latest developments.

Invest in an AM/FM transistor radio – even consider a shortwave radio to get the latest updates. Make sure your stock of batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, and 9 volts) are in a place with your spare flashlights. Remember, you may not be able to recharge those rechargeables without any power so having standard batteries is essential. With respect to your families or friends that are out of town, you should provide them your plans on meeting points and vice versa so they know where you may be or that you even have a plan. Two-way radios or walkie talkies are very helpful, so be sure to invest in a few of those. Our CERT team performs regular drills with two-way radios and can communicate effectively throughout Clayton. Use common sense and plan today. Doing so will make a chaotic situation more calm – especially if others that care about you know that you have a plan or what that plan may be. Harun Simbirdi is a resident of Clayton and member of the City of Clayton Citizen Corps Council (C5CERT). He can be reached at

Be sure to spend quality time with the cats separately. They each need your comfort to reassure them so they can be happy and relaxed in their surroundings. When it’s time for your pets to meet whisker to whisker, watch their body language carefully. Look for signs of discomfort, like tail flicking, backturned ears, hissing, growling, or swatting. If any cat displays one of these behaviors, everyone gets a time out in their own comfort zone. First meetings are not always successful, so it’s essential to be patient. Try introductions more than once, with plenty of time to relax and recuperate in between. Each introduction should be brief (10-15 minutes) and supervised. It might take several days for your cats to learn to tolerate each other, and weeks or months for them to become at ease with one another. Take it slow and pay attention to each pet’s comfort level. Cats show stress in various ways including urination outside of the litterbox, over-grooming, and lack of appetite. If your cat is displaying one or more of these behaviors, don’t hesitate to take a trip to the vet. Once your cats have become acquainted with each other, keep the doors open. This will allow them to interact on their own terms, but make sure there are plenty of hiding places and escape routes. Finally, help your cats enjoy living together. Spend play time with them together and separately. Although there might be some initial competition over toys, rewarding appropriate behavior with treats or bits of chicken can help each feline build positive associations with the other. Any new relationship takes time and effort to grow and strengthen. Respecting your cats’ individual boundaries and providing them plenty of patience and love will ensure a successful forever friendship and a happy home Elena Bicker is the Executive Director of Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation. She can be reached at (925) 256-1ARF (1273)

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Clayton Pioneer •

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A friend of mine asked me the other day if I’ve ever had sublimely delicious tepary beans. That launched me on one of my culinary investigations into new and interesting foods – at least it was a new food to me, but as it turns out it is an ancient food to Native Americans. Native species of beans are found around the world but in North America it’s the tepary. It was an early crop of prehistoric people of the arid Southwest and Mexico. Grown in arroyos where moisture was more readily available, we now know the tepary (Phaseolus acutifolius) is very heat-tolerant, thrives in drought-ridden areas and is exceptionally productive. Grown with corn and squash (together “The Three Sisters”), the tepary and most other beans provide a complete protein that minimizes the need for animal hunting or husbandry. Investigators found the Tohono O’odham (Papago) and Pima peoples growing these beans and their language gave rise to their name: pawi translates to “bean,” while “T pawi” means “it’s a bean.” The interest in heirloom plants has turned to the tepary in recent years, but getting seeds


Plus tax. Excludes premium or double stacked subs. May not be combined with any other discounts, coupons & great meal deals. Valid only at this location.

MASH THE BEANS. In a clean pan, melt the lard or heat the oil or medium-high heat. Add the mashed beans and fry until they have lost most of their moisture. Season with salt to taste (don’t under-salt these beans because you won’t be able to enjoy their true flavor). Serve with chopped cilantro as a side dish or incorporate into other Mexican or Southwestern dishes. TEPARY SOUP 3 cups dried tepary beans Water for soaking 8 oz. salt pork, diced 1 onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup chopped celery 1 cup grated carrot 1 russet (baking) potato, diced





1 to 3 tsp. crushed red pepper, to taste Salt and pepper to taste Soak teparies in water (one inch over surface of beans) for 12 hours. Drain and rinse beans; set aside. Heat a stockpot over medium-high heat and add salt pork. Sauté until crisp and fat has rendered out. (Reduce heat if needed to keep salt pork from browning.) Remove salt pork to paper towels to drain. Keep about 3 Tbsp. of the fat in the pan and discard the balance. Reheat the fat and add the onion, garlic and celery. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, then add beans and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until beans are tender, about three hours. (Add more water if needed to keep soupy consistency.) Add potato, carrot and red pepper and simmer until the potato has turned to mush. Taste and add salt and pepper to balance the flavors and serve hot. Linda Wyner, a local attorney and foodie, owns Pans on Fire, a gourmet cookware store and cooking school in Pleasanton. Direct your suggestions or questions to

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REFRIED BEANS 3 cups dried tepary beans Water to soak 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil 1 cup chopped onions 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic 1 finely minced jalapeno 1 Tbsp. ground cumin 2 tsp. dried oregano 1 Tbsp. chili powder 3 Tbsp. lard or vegetable oil Salt Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish Cover the beans with enough water to extend one inch above the level of the beans. Soak for 12 hours. Drain

and rinse; discard soaking water. Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the oil and onions. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are just becoming soft. Add the garlic and jalapeno and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender, without browning them. Add the beans, cumin, oregano and chili powder and enough water to just cover the beans. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring from time to time, until beans are completely tender. Add water as needed to keep the beans from drying out but not so much to become soupy.

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for planting and finding the bean for cooking remains difficult. Mail-order houses are just about the only place to find them, but if you’re traveling in Arizona, you should find bags of the beans in Indian shops. Teparies are very small beans that come in a variety of colors. They are not eaten as a green bean but instead are dried and sometimes lightly roasted. This means they require long soaking and slightly longer cooking times to bring them to toothsome perfection with a nutty, rich flavor. They would make a bowl of refried beans or bean soup shine.

January 27, 2012

SUNNY SOLOMON FOR THE BOOKS “The Baker’s Daughter” by Sarah McCoy is about as complex a novel as the title is simple. The “daughter” is Elsie Schmidt of Garmisch, Germany. The novel’s prologue introduces us to Elsie’s mother, not only the wife of a baker, but the keeper of secrets. Germany, July 1945 should set off alarms, but McCoy doesn’t take the most direct route to her story, jumping ahead in Chapter One to El Paso, Texas, November of 2007. The novel has two protagonists: Reba Adams, who left her family in Virginia to pursue a

writing career in El Paso, Texas, and war-bride Elsie Schmidt Merriwether, once of Garmisch, Germany, but now also of El Paso. Reba, a journalist for a local El Paso magazine, is assigned to interview Elsie, the owner of a popular El Paso German bakery, for a piece on German Christmas traditions. McCoy does not so much weave the stories of these two women together as shows their lives in parallel. Elsie’s life as a baker’s daughter living in Germany as it nears defeat is told through letters and flashbacks, and Reba’s as a young writer finding her voice and her way in the world is told in a troubled present. When the two women meet and the interviews begin, their stories continue to be told side by side. The lines do not cross until the interview stalls and Reba wonders if she will make her deadline. McCoy nails it with the observa-

tion: “It was the Nazi thing.” Not just for Reba, but for the reader as well. We all know parallel lines can never meet, but McCoy proves this rule wrong. This is a novel of mothers and daughters, sisters (and grandmothers), of romance, love, war, fear, insecurity, patriotism, cowardice, lies, despair, and, ultimately, truth and understanding. Elsie’s courage is not only in surviving the Third Reich, but in recognizing that Germany was no longer the country she loved as a girl; and her story echoes in Reba’s struggle to deal with the reality of her life as a writer and as the fiancée of Ricki Chavez, a Border Patrol Officer involved in the roundup and detention of illegal immigrants. The 62 years between 1945 and 2007 become uncomfortably clouded. Reba’s magazine article becomes something very different from what she intended to write.

McCoy’s novel is not about the culpability of a nation, but rather the understanding of how human hearts can remain unmoved in the face of inhumanity. In spite of some unevenness, I think the novel succeeds. What brought the two women together, while sharing coffee and fine baked goods, was the sharing itself, which is always a path to understanding ourselves and each other. The inclusion of recipes for some of Elsie’s baked treats at the end of the book was a distraction for this reader, but who knows? If even one of the recipes turns out, eaten with a good cup of coffee or tea, it may get me to thinking; and what novelist could ask for more than that? Sunny Solomon is the former Book Lady from Clayton Books and currently heads up the Clayton Book Club. Visit her website for her latest recommendations or just to "talk books."

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January 27, 2012

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 17


We can tell your story. No matter what it is

Willows to stage lush “Piazza”

Photo credit: Judy Potter

MARGARET JOHNSON (DEBORAH DEL MASTRO) AND HER DAUGHTER CLARA (RACHEL ROBINSON) star an American mother and daughter caught up in a seemingly impossible romance in Italy in “The Light in the Piazza,” opening Jan. 30 at The Willows Theatre in Concord. GARY CARR Special to the Pioneer

Boy meets girl in “The Light in the Piazza,” a stunning romantic musical set in Florence and Rome in the summer of 1953. Problem: the young couple’s future together is considered by everyone to be impossible. Resolution: gorgeous music, splendid characters, and love itself. A young American tourist, Clara Johnson, meets and falls for young Italian Fabrizio Naccarelli. When Clara’s mother Margaret learns of the affair, she opposes it for reasons that only gradually become clear to the audience. Deborah Del Mastro returns to the Willows stage as Margaret Johnson, mother of the young Clara. Del Mastro was last seen in a very different kind of role at the Willows – as the wise-cracking Sister Robert Anne in Nunset Boulevard. She will continue the national tour of that show later in the year.

Coincidentally, the role of Fabrizio is being played by Robert Dornaus. In the U.S. National Tour, the role was played by Broadway pro David Burnham, who starred in his own solo show The Willows earlier this month. Rachel Robinson, who takes on the role of Clara, is also the Willows’ staff musical director. Teressa Byrne, last seen as the lead in the Willows’ production of Rags, plays Signora Naccarelli. She is paired with long-time Willows favorite Jonathan Spencer, who plays Signor Naccarelli. The book, by Craig Lucas, with music and lyrics by Adam Guettel, is based on the novella by Elizabeth Spencer. The Willows production is directed by award winning artistic director Eric Inman, with musical direction by Kim Vetterli. CurtainUp called the musical a “gorgeously staged and musically sophisticated adaptation... the Guettel sound is plush and enjoyable with a genuine musical

theater sensibility.” The Broadway production garnered numerous Drama Desk Awards and a Tony Award for Best Score. Says director Eric Inman,” this is the most sophisticated musical score I’ve heard in a long, long time. Audiences are sure to be thrilled, as musical director Kim Vetterli and I have been, by its pure lushness, paired with the beauty of the lyrics.” Movie-goers will remember


the 1962 non-musical version of the story that starred Olivia de Havilland and Yvette Mimieux.

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The Light in the Piazza previews at the Willows Mainstage Jan. 30 through Feb. 1, and opens Friday, Feb. 3. The show runs through March 3 at The Willows Mainstage, 1975 Diamond Boulevard (in The Willows Shopping Center) in Concord. Tickets are $30-$36 and are available at or 925-7981300.

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It’s a dangerously romantic Valentine’s Day in Martinez “That’s Amore,” is the perfect date night, featuring an evening of international music and song performed by celebrated musician and singer Naresh Michael. Naresh has been called “The Andrea Bocelli of Tango,” singing a romantic international style of music inspired by Mario Lanza and Placido Domingo with the modern flavor of Josh Groban and Michael Buble’. His repertoire spans traditional tango, opera, Broadway hits, and timeless standards from Bocelli’s “Time to Say Goodbye” to Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore.” Accompanied by piano, Naresh plays guitar and sings in the languages of romance - Italian, Spanish, as well as English. One of his trademarks is playing the bandoneón, the Argentine concertina, an essential instrument of the tango orchestra.

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Center REP opens with Shaw’s “Arms and the Man” Jan. 27

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Center REPertory Company latest production, “Arms and the Man,” brings the master of wit and social comedy to the Lesher Theatre beginning

Jan. 27. What makes a hero? What makes a good husband? Does Raina choose Captain

Bluntschli — the practical man who prefers chocolates to cartridges — or Sergius, the dashing hero of the mistaken cavalry charge that sent Bluntschli climbing into her bedroom window at night? Shaw is at his most entertaining and romantic in this charming tale of romance going awry with unexpected turns, mistaken identities and, of course, the playwright’s always surprising opinions on war, marriage and everything else. Directed by Nancy Carlin, “Arms and the Man” runs Wednesdays through Sundays, Jan. 27 through Feb. 25. For tickets, call (925) 943-SHOW (9469) or go to

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Pioneer Photo Album Scott McFarland took this beautiful shot of the Lydia Lane bridge while walking on the Cardinet Trail. “We loved the pattern, colors and shadows of the old bridge,” said wife Adair. “We are pleased that so much of Clayton’s history has been preserved for future generations to enjoy.” In keeping with our motto, “It’s Your Paper,” the Pioneer is proud to spotlight our reader’s photos. Send in your cute pets, funny kids, great landscapes, favorite sites in town or whatever makes your heart beat a little faster. Email your photo in a hi-resolution jpg or tif format to with a description of the photo, where and when it was taken and a little about why you like it. Include your name and phone number. Then look for it in the next Pioneer.

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Page 18

Clayton Pioneer •

January 27, 2012

A hiking treasure high in the Oakland hills am back and fully motivated to get back out there and write about hiking. (Note: I’ve been “out there,” just not as much, and yeah, I didn’t write about it.)


URBAN WILDS Could a park located nine miles from downtown Oakland be what you are looking for? I know what you might be thinking, and I was thinking the same thing until I visited Joaquin Miller Park on a gorgeous Sunday in January. It offered dry trails, no crowds, nice weather and a little bit of nature not far from home base. Named for a pony express

HIKER’S HAVEN Hiking boots dusted off... check! Water bottle…check! Map…check! Spirit of adventure…check! I am glad to be back in the pages of the Pioneer after what was ultimately a five-year sabbatical, during which time the Parker family grew by three boys. I

Kevin Parker/Clayton Pioneer

Joaquin Miller Park in the Oakland Hills.

FLORA, FAUNA AND FUN I followed Sequoia-Bayview Trail until I reached Fern Ravine Trail and followed it back down to where I started. The creeks were dry during my visit, not common for this time of year, but my hope is with the coming rains, they will be flowing in no time. Visit the website and check out a trail map, you’ll see I barely scratched the surface in terms of hiker-friendly trails. Some popular hikes listed on the trail map include: Dimond Canyon Short and Long Loops, Shepard

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rider, lawyer, judge and teacher who was known as “Poet of the Sierras,” Joaquin Miller Park is nestled into the Oakland hills, and I’d call it your “little bit of everything park.” Where else would you need to go to find a tot lot, The Cascades Fountain, a dog park, Nature Plant Nursery, Woodminster Ampitheatre, Chabot Space and Science Center and my personal favorite, the trails and tributaries of Sausal Creek Watershed? Parking near the Ranger Station and Community Center made it an easy jump-off spot to get directly into the heart of the park. Within minutes I had stumbled onto the Sinawik Trail and was immediately impressed by the lush greenery, stunning redwood groves and open meadows. I quickly linked up to the Sunset Loop Trail and found myself heading straight up Wild Rose Trail, which is one of the few trails that do not allow bicycles. With a few impromptu resting spots along the trail – not to mention spectacular peek-a-boo vistas of Oakland and San Francisco in the backdrop – I knew this was the right trail to be on.

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Canyon Loop and Palos Colorados. With more than 200 species of native plants and some local wildlife if you can spot them, want my advice? Spend some time wandering – you won’t get lost in this 500-acre paradise! As time permits, you can also

visit Redwood Regional Park and Roberts Recreation Area, both of which are adjacent to Joaquin Miller. And the final bonus, for you dog lovers, is this park allows dogs on all trails (on leash is the rule, but most people seemed to be fairly relaxed about it). This small detail allowed the entire

family to participate in some good old outdoor fun, which can be a tall order to fill these days. Visit the website: For more information on this hike or other outdoor experiences, contact Kevin at

SMD transfers two Morgan Territory properties to park district Morgan Territory Regional Preserve is growing larger as two of Save Mount Diablo’s (SMD) properties are transferred to the East Bay Regional Park District in the next few weeks. Both Moss Rock, 20 acres acquired in 2010, and Joseph Galvin Ranch, 62 acres acquired in 2003, will be added to the Preserve thanks to funding from the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy. Both parcels have lovely stretches of Marsh Creek, critical habitat and a wildlife corridor for both common and rare species such as California redlegged frog. The Mount Diablo globe lily and Diablo sunflower, both found only in the Mount Diablo area, have been found on the properties as well. Joseph Galvin Ranch, marked on Morgan Territory Road by two white bridges, is especially rich in biodiversity given its mosaic of habitats including the creek’s riparian vegetation, chaparral, grassland and blue oak woodland. Moss Rock, which is surrounded on three sides by protected land, will maintain the uninterrupted oak-bay woodland rising from the creek into Mount Diablo State Park. These resources make the lands a high priority for preservation. “Their locations make the properties excellent additions to the Park District,” said SMD Executive Director Ron Brown.

Photo credit – Brad Heckman

JOSEPH GALVIN RANCH, recently transferred to the EBRPD is unique in its mosaic of habitats including chaparral, grassland and blue oak woodland which allows the land to support wildlife requiring more than one type of habitat.

“Both the habitat and locations make the parcels fantastic for recreation.” “We are very pleased to be able to acquire these lands that are strategically located adjacent to existing preserved lands, allowing us to link existing and future trails and habitat corridors,” said EBRPD Board President Beverly Lane. “The Galvin Ranch parcel, about 61 acres of pristine habitat, is especially beautiful.” SMD secures land when opportunities arise, thanks to the support of individual donors, holding them until a long term managing agency, like the East Bay Regional Park District, can add them to their park system often with the help of public funds, like those of the East

Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy. Even though the properties were bargains, their values have declined steeply since they were originally acquired. SMD is transferring the properties at the discounted value. “The transfers represent a small donation to the Regional Park District. We want the public to have access as soon as possible,” said Brown. Although the properties have transferred to the East Bay Regional Park District they will not be open to the public until management plans are in place. SMD will lead guided hikes on Moss Rock on Sun., Jan. 29, and Joseph Galvin Ranch on Sat., Feb. 4. For more information visit

Notebooks: Never too slim or too powerful This year the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas had two standout electronic marvels out of more than 20,000 products exhibited. One of the standouts focus on advances with smart phones and the other is all about the ultra-thin notebooks. SLIM IS IN. The first ultra-thin was first introduced by Apple Computer nearly two years ago. Apple’s MacBook Air was much envied by many manufacturers and they have responded with a Windows version for everyone. The new ultra thins are fast, sleek, lightweight and inexpensive. Let’s see what you get, and what you don’t, in an ultra thin. First, as the name implies you get a sleek, thin notebook computer. Most ultra thins laptops on the market today are about one-half an inch high (or about 13mm) at the hinge side of the notebook. That’s about half the thickness of the current version of notebooks. This advance was brought about by Intel, a major U.S. chip manufacturer and others, who have trimmed the size of their chips so they take up less space and height when mounted inside the notebook. This re-engineering, along with other strides in the industry have resulted in this thin success.

Speaking of the Intel inside (meaning an Intel CPU), these CPU’s are quick and efficient giving the user a delightful response to commands, launching programs and web surfing. The clock speed isn’t as important as your perception of speed. You should be delighted with the specs, but remember notebooks are not desktops and can’t perform at the desktop or workstation level. (Note: Do you want to know why they can’t perform like a desktop? Drop an email to the Clayton Pioneer and request this topic.) Most ultra thin notebooks sport a 14- to 15-inch screen so they stay light-weight. The compact size also gives them a bit more durability. However, larger screens, up to 17 inches are available. The graphics and rich color fills will thrill the most stolid among you. Say hello to mini HDMI, the new twist on the high-def video out on most models. Performance features, including instant on and instant access to your favorite web portal, is achieved by keeping the computer in standby mode for up to 50 hours and full operation for an estimated seven hours. So, you switch it on and the computer screen pops back

WILL CLANEY TECH TALK exactly where you left it in your last session. In addition, the switch from hard drives to solid state drives is most evident with ultra-lights, providing longer battery life and more impact durability. But wait... There’s more. Actually there’s less. Ultra-slims are truly remarkable, however, don’t expect the ultras to be the same as most laptops because they lack features like CD ROM drives, high speed cooling systems, USB links, video outputs and printer connections. These have been eliminated so they can be thinner and lighter. These computers are remarkable, reliable and fun to use. Along with the ultra-slim size and light-weight design you’ll enjoy bright full screens, Dolby sound and years of service life. With features like these it is understandable that ultralightweight notebooks were one of the two showstoppers of the CES show this year. William Claney is an independent tech writer and former owner of Computers USA in the Clayton Station. Email questions or comments to


See Church EIR, page 3 C ITYATTORNEY M ALA S UBRAMANIAN addresses Clayton Community Church concerns over increased fees to complete EIR for...