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From the desk of...

December 19, 2014


Concord lights up with holiday spirit PEGGY SPEAR

Concord Pioneer



Ladder of success A sincere thank you to the citizens of Concord for their overwhelming support for the renewal of Measure Q. What this means for our City goes far beyond today. It speaks to our next generation and beyond and enables us to get past the first rung on the ladder of success. The metaphor of climbing the ladder of success is familiar to most people. I believe it has application to the role of city councils charged with the development of policy that will determine the direction for the future of their respective cities. What we know from experience is that there is usually a mob at the bottom of each figurative ladder and the most difficult part of negotiating one’s way to the top has to do with getting a firm grasp on the first rung. Passage of the extension of Measure Q guarantees a secure foothold for our future. What we do with this opportunity is up to us. As your Mayor let me assure I not only welcome this challenge, I embrace it with enthusiasm. My first goal is to protect our core services and then enhance our capability for economic development. I want to ensure that during my tenure we set in place the steps needed to ensure we will not need any future Measure Q type measures. I will propose a significant increase in the size, scope, and function of our Economic

See Mayor, page 3

Rochelle Douglas/Rochellez Photography

LIGHTS, CARRIAGES AND CAROLERS USHERED IN THE OFFICIAL Mayor’s Sing Along in Todos Santos Plaza on Dec. 6.


with the annual Tree Lighting and

A soggy lawn at Todos Santos Plaza didn’t dampen the spirits of hundreds of revelers who crowded into a corner of Salvio and Grant streets to usher in the holiday season in Concord on Dec. 6. With the sounds of pintsized carolers and the clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages providing the soundtrack for the evening, Mayor Tim Grayson and other dignitaries and choirs of carolers counted down, then with a flip of a switch, the large pine in the plaza was lit with colorful lights. The official lighting followed the Annual Tree Lighting and Mayor’s Sing Along celebration, which included performances from local school bands and choruses, dance academies and church choirs. From itty-bitty ballerinas to

See Lights, page 3

Pavilion performances pay off for city JAY BEDECARRÉ Concord Pioneer

A year ago this month the Concord City Council surprised many observers by entering into a new 10-year agreement with concert promoter Live Nation to handle operations at the Concord Pavilion. The national production company had just suffered through five down attendance years at the Pavilion and it was thought “fresh blood” might better serve the city’s needs to re-invigorate the facility on Kirker Pass Rd. It turns out that city officials

and council members may just have struck gold in keeping the faith in Live Nation. Results from the 2014 concert season are now in and in its 40th season the Pavilion’s paid attendance (162,514) was its best since 2001 and the 18 shows were the most since 2008. The new agreement between Live Nation and the city guarantees Concord an $800,000 annual fee plus, for the first five years, the city receives $3 for every ticket sold over 100,000. This year that overage translates

See Pavilion, page 14

Local filmmaker sheds light on India’s violence towards women PEGGY SPEAR Concord Pioneer

NYNA PAIS CAPUTI AND HER HUSBAND and co-producer, Gino, met at the New York Film Academy where Nyna was studying. They live in Concord with their two young sons.

The numbers are staggering: In India, more than 50 million girls and women have been murdered in the last century, due to that country’s patriarchal mindset and a preference for sons. By 2020 there will be 20 percent more men than women in India. While India is thousands of miles away from Concord, that statistic hits home for local filmmaker Nyna Pais Caputi, who is shedding light on the horrific subject with a new documentary, “Petals in the Dust: The Endangered Indian Girls.”

See Filmmaker, page 14

YOU MIGHT ASK “WHAT’S IN A NAME?” A year ago the Concord City Council concluded negotiations on a new 10-year contract with Live Nation to run its concert venue on Kirker Pass Rd. One of the key elements in the agreement was to return the venue’s name to the original Concord Pavilion after years being called Sleep Train Pavilion. The Pavilion’s 2014 season also began to look like years gone by with the largest attendance since 2001 coming to 18 shows.

Council swears in incumbents; Hoffmeister elected vice-mayor PEGGY SPEAR Concord Pioneer

Mayor Tim Grayson is determined to get the Contra Costa Family Justice Center built. Even if he has to do it with Lego’s. Luckily, that won’t happen, but it didn’t stop his mates on the Concord City Council to

give him a “custom” toy set of the building blocks as a whimsical gift honoring his first year as Mayor. It is a tradition for the council to honor outgoing mayors with fun little trinkets honoring their year in service, but as Grayson is in the middle of a two-year term, fellow council member and newly elected Vice

Mayor Laura Hoffmeister brought a bag of toys and holiday ornaments honoring the mayor’s first year in office. It was a fitting end to the upbeat swearing-in ceremony of

See Elections, page 14

Check out the EBRPD Activity Guide Inside.

Page 2

Concord Pioneer •


In Brief... Concord unveils new city website design The City of Concord launched a redesigned website last month at The new design has a more modern feel, with larger photos, less text and easier navigation. The previous website was well-used, with between 40,000 and 60,000 unique visitors every month. While the new design preserves the content popular with users, it makes information easier to find. The upgrade project was completed in-house, with minimal cost to the city. Residents are invited to take a brief survey after exploring the redesigned website to assist the city in understanding what users like about the site and what can be improved. The survey is posted on the home page at For more information, contact Leslye Asera, 925671-3272,

St. Agnes School gets crabby St. Agnes School will hold its Annual crab feed fundraiser on Jan. 31, at Carondelet High School's Garaventa Center. Sponsored by St. Agnes School and the St. Agnes Parrish Knights of Columbus, the crab feed supports St. Agnes School in Concord. Tickets are $55 each and are available at St. Agnes School, St. Agnes Parrish or by calling 925 330-7313. Twelve guests may reserve an entire table. St. Agnes School provides top-quality education rooted in Catholic tradition, which strives to foster the development of each student

Continued next page

December 19, 2014

Concord bids farewell to Mr. Xmas A beloved Christmas tradition will come to an end this year when Bruce Mertz flips the switch on his “Mr. Xmas” light

display for the last time. Mertz is not religious and has called his display Mr. Xmas since the first lights were strung

35 years ago.. Every year, he would add lights and imagination to his Concord home to create a dis-

play that drew hundreds from all over the Bay Area and became the subject of a short documentary. His home was a “must see” on any family’s Christmas lights tour. Sadly, declining health has prevented Mertz from maintaining his display and he was unsure of how much would actually light up this year. At the end of the season, a friend will help him dismantle and put away the 5,000 lights for the last time. To see the award-winning documentary, go to Or, better yet, stop by one last time at 5208 Olive Dr. in Concord.

Parishioners honor Patroness of the Americas On a foggy Dec. 7 morning, parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi Church on Oak Grove, marched from Cambridge Park to the church on Oak Grove to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. The procession marked the day in 1531 when the Virgin Mary appeared to a Juan Diego, a young Aztec convert, telling him to build a church where he was standing. The Parade honors the story of the apparition, however the Lady of Guadalupe has come to symbolize the commonality of faith between all the Hispanic, native Americans and their mixtures. The floats and costumes have Aztec, Indian, Mexican and Central American themes along

with Catholic imagery. She is now known as The Patroness of the Americas. “Living in concordance with each other with a set of shared values of good,” said Councilman Edi Birsan who attended the procession. “What better place than in a city called Concord to hold the parade.”

Gingerbread and history partner up for the holidays at the Galindo House

There is still time for a visit to Concord’s historic Galindo House which has been lovingly decorated by the Concord Historical Society. Cider and cookies await visitors. The gingerbread houses on display are definitely not for eating. The intricate houses were baked and crafted by students from the Serendipity Hospitality Program at Mt. Diablo High School. The gracious Victorian home was built in 1856 for Don Francisco Galindo and his wife, Maria Delores Manuela Pacheco. The home was in the family until Ruth Galindo’s death in 1999. The house will be open Sat. and Sun., Dec. 20 and 21, from 1-4 p.m. The Galindo House is at 1721 Amador Ave., in Concord just one block off Galindo St. Call (925) 685-8203 for more information.

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Concord Pioneer •

Lights, from page 1 “America’s Got Talent”-worthy dancers and singers, the twohour event thrilled residents eager to get into the holiday spirit. “I just heard about this in the morning and wanted to take the family out to do something special,” says 5 Concord resi d e n t Rashanda Calhoun. With no

disrespect to the mayor, the star of the evening was the Big Man himself, Santa Claus, who was on hand to get some ideas for what to leave to leave under Christmas trees on Dec. 24. A line of children and their parents ran the length of the plaza on Salvio Street, waiting for a chance to see Santa up close and personal. Despite the wet grass at the plaza, the mild weather cooperated, much to the delight of Darren Walters, president of





Cherene said. “I think people come year after year just to collect the pins.”

And of course drink in a little holiday spirit at the same time.


great success enjoyed by Live Nation in upgrading the number and quality of their live performances. Our Economic Development Department, operating on a shoestring budget, persuaded Fresenius USA, to re-locate in Concord. They brought 400 top paying jobs to our city and, what has not been fully appreciated, a $32 million medical equipment manufacturing operation. I want more, much more. Chevron has decided to vacate its underutilized property in Concord. The


30 acre site can employ 2,000 people. What an opportunity! The location, between Diamond Blvd. and Interstate 680, is prime for development. I would love to see a Bio-Tech Company acquire this space. Marketing this property will require a full-courtpress. Ensuring this happens is one of my priorities. In our downtown, Swift Realty Partners has a quality building of approximately 500,000’ of Class “A” office property, with a subterranean garage, adjacent to our downtown BART station, that is ready right now. Our Economic Development manager is

In Brief... through an environment that values individual self-worth, academic achievement, talents and abilities, cultural awareness, lifelong faith formation and local and global service to others. The crab feed begins at 5:30 p.m. Carondelet High School is located at 1133 Winton Dr. in Concord

New bike racks at Civic Center


from page 1

Development Department. I will be working with our Council, the City Manager, and key staff to surge our economic development capability. It begins, of course, with the marvelous opportunities inherent in the development of the former Naval Weapons Station property, but it goes beyond that unique and exceptional challenge. We took the first step when we re-negotiated our Pavilion contract with Live Nation. We are thrilled with the new terms of our agreement and with the

the Todos Santos Business Association, which organizes the event. “Last year it was really cold, and the year before that, it was raining,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for a better night,” he said as he gave out hot chocolate and cookies to young revelers. One of the traditions at the Sing-Along is to give out festive blinking holiday pins — a hot commodity, according to volunteer Liz Cherene of the Lions’ Club. This year’s pin was designed by Highlands Elementary student Sabrina Woo. “They were gone quickly,”

Page 3

Photos, clockwisefrom upper right: 1. 3. The “Can-do Crew” from Boy Scout Troop 364 From left: Assistant Scoutmaster Dean Cofer, Race Cofer, Yanni Reynolds and Grant Reeg. The Scouts will be wrapping gifts at the Senior Center on Dec. 20. 2. Concord Rec ballet dancers

3. Performers from D’Ann’s School of Dance 4. Santa and Florence Weiss, City of Concord Downtown Program Director 5. Annual Tree Lighting pin designed by Highlands Elementary student Sabrina Woo

assisting Swift in finding a tenant. Earlier I mentioned the mob at the base of the ladder, clamoring for a grip on the first rung. Please be advised that we know and appreciate we are not working in a vacuum or without competition. John Montagh, our most capable economic development manager, recently attended a conference sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank and the Brookings Institute. They are creating an “Innovations District” encompassing the three million people residing in the Bay Area. This area is considered one of the best in the Country for economic development and Con-

cord is one of the key cities in that District. We must make sure we have something of a world-class nature for the Concord Reuse Project. I envision a soccer stadium that will seat 10,000 people. This stadium will be part of a major sports complex with a baseball diamond, softball fields, and a number of soccer fields. If you are a soccer parent you know how valuable this will be for Concord, to say nothing of the ancillary businesses that will spring up around this facility. To state the obvious, this will escalate the economic develop-



Photos by Rochelle Douglass Rochellez Photography


A half dozen new bike racks were recently installed at Concord Civic Center, 1950 Parkside Drive, to accommodate those riding their bikes to city meetings or to conduct business at city offices. The bike racks were paid for by a grant from and will also benefit employees who choose to bike to work. Last year, Concord installed new bike racks at 15 city parks and facilities and posted a webpage that makes them easy to find. To access the bicycle rack web page, visit For more information, call 925-671-3147.

ment of the portion of the Reuse Project property to be developed by the master developer which we will select early next year. Let me close by saying I am truly excited about Concord’s future, but I am also very mindful of the promised protection of our core services, for example, public safety, road and sewer repairs, and remembering our youth and seniors, to name just three. They will not be forgotten, but I thought you would want to know your mayor is also focused on the future, not just business as usual.


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Concord Pioneer •



Detroit Avenue improvements move forward GEORGE FULMORE Correspondent

Detroit Avenue is a very busy traffic thoroughfare for both pedestrians and vehicles, especially on weekday mornings. Thousands of Concord residents live on or near Detroit Ave., which runs for nearly one mile between Clayton Rd. and Monument Blvd. Meadow Homes Elementary School, at 1371 Detroit Ave., is at the heart of the thoroughfare. The school is at full capacity, with nearly 1,000 students. Most walk to and from the school along Detroit Ave., which affords numerous pedestrian hazards along the way. Safety and traffic flow have been major concerns for years. And, as a result of multiple efforts over many years, significant improvements are coming, with the implementation of a $2.2 million project, termed the Detroit Avenue Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements project. A public workshop on Nov. 13 at the school, gave about 50 Concord residents an overview of the project and a chance to ask questions. “We want the community to be walking and riding bikes,” said Ana Villalobos, manager of the Healthy Community project at Monument Impact. “Detroit Avenue can be a beautiful street, she added. “And it can be safe.” Others said more street lighting is needed. And many

See Detroit, page 7

December 19, 2014

Ringing in the holidays with Salvation Army bell-ringers JOHN T. MILLER Correspondent

They are as iconic during the holiday season as Santa and his reindeer: ‘Tis the season for the Salvation Army bell-ringers to don their apron uniforms and hang their pots outside local establishments to collect money for local charitable work. The practice began in San Francisco in 1891 when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee set out a kettle at the foot of Market Street where the Oakland Ferry landed in order to deliver on a promised free Christmas dinner to the area’s poor. The Salvation Army now aids more than 4,500,000 at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Locally, the job of organizing and supervising the kettle workers in Central Contra Costa is in the hands of Corps Assistant Amy Lewis, now in her second year at the helm. The job appeals to Lewis at many levels. “I like puzzles,” she

says. “Everyday I have to solve situations and put things together so they will work.” Lewis juggles factors such as personality, location, weather and other intangibles to get the best results for the erstwhile bell-ringers.

DOUBLE MINISTRY Driving from location to location with Lewis gives evidence of the daily frenzy of putting her “elves” to work. Her backseat is filled with spare kettles, stands, signs, aprons and mounds of paperwork. The local Salvation Army currently is running 25 pots throughout the Central County area, from Concord to Orinda and Martinez to San Ramon. Aside from raising money for charitable work — including a food pantry, “Toy and Joy” gifts for needy clients and after school and other youth programs — the bell ringer program provides a double ministry. “The funds raised are all used in our local programs. The

Tamara Steiner/Clayton Pioneer

MANY SALVATION ARMY BELL RINGERS HAVE BEEN ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BUCKET. David Refoua (Santa) and his mother Roberta (in apron) once needed help from the Corps. Now, they are leaders in the program and are among the most hard-working and reliable of the 55 bell ringers managed by Salvation Army Corps administrator Amy Lewis.

workers can feel good about what they are doing,” says Lewis. “At the same time, we can provide needed jobs for

Burglars strike Salvation Army Church

Chuck Graham Photo

Sometime during the night of Dec. 11, thieves broke into the storage containers at the Concord Salvation Army Church and made off with the

gifts and food donations for 15 families in the Forgotten Angel program. Burglars cut the locks off one large container, rifled through everything, taking 18 bags of gifts and leaving the rest out in the rain. The Corps has put out a call to the community to help replace these gifts. Needed are food items, and gifts for children 414, evenly divided

between girls and boys. Especially needed are pajamas, toys and games. If you can help, please leave unwrapped donations at the Salvation Army Corps, 3950 Clayton Rd, Concord, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. until Dec. 22. For more information, call (925) 676-6180. If you don’t have time to shop, money donations will be gratefully accepted.

many people in the county. These jobs can supplement their S.S.I., or provide a reentry opportunity for those who have gone through rehabilitation, spent time in jail for minor crimes, or have been out of work.” Although seasonal and paying only minimum wage, those who work can benefit through letters of reference or recommendation, or can get the needed confidence and work habits to make it to the next step. Lewis cited one employee now entering his second year of work. He had gone through the Adult Rehab program of the Oakland chapter of the Salvation Army many years ago, but then fell off the wagon. “He is rebuilding his life again and has been our most reliable and most grateful employee.” An annual award for the local chapter was set up last year


to honor Jay Belcher, better known as Cowboy. Dressed in full regalia, with chaps, boots and a full leather duster, he was a familiar figure at the Concord Safeway on Willow Pass or the K-Mart on Clayton for many years. He even decorated his bike as his pony. “He emerged as a leader and encouraged other workers to do and be better,” says Lewis. Cowboy passed away last year from cancer, but lived long enough to present the award to its first recipient, David Refoua. He and his mother, Roberta, have been bell ringers for 14 years. David dresses as Santa and decorates his stand as a Christmas tree. He says he is “more than grateful to assist,” having been on both sides of Salvation Army help.

See Bell Ringers, page 7


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Concord Pioneer •

Concord holiday office closures City of Concord offices will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 24 and 25, for the Christmas holiday, and Thursday, Jan. 1 for New Year’s Day. For the past several years, city offices have been closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s as a cost saving measure, but this year the office hours have been restored. The closure includes the Civic Center complex (1950 Parkside Drive), Public Works and Engineering (1455 Gasoline Alley), the Concord Senior Citizens Center

(2727 Parkside Circle), Willow Pass Center (2748 East Olivera Rd.), Centre Concord (5298 Clayton Rd.) and Concord Police headquarters (1350 Galindo St.). Police patrol and dispatch operations will not be affected by the closure. Even when city offices are closed, sandbags are available at any time from the self-serve sandbag station outside the gates of the City Corporation Yard, 1455 Gasoline Alley off of Bisso Lane. For more information, contact the city manager’s office, 925-671-3150, or

visit the City’s website at

POOL CLOSES FOR REPAIRS The Concord Community Pool at Cowell Park will be closed for maintenance and repairs through Dec. 23. The pool will also be closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. All other days except Dec. 24, the pool will be open for normal lap swim hours. For more information, contact the pool office, (925) 671-3480.

Pioneer Photo Album Pearl Harbor Day Beacon Lighting Ceremony

Clayton Worsdell of Concord sent this dramatic photo of the Beacon lighting on Dec. 7. He writes: Every year since December 7, 1964, Pearl Harbor survivors and their families have memorialized Pearl Harbor Day by relighting the historic beacon atop Mount Diablo's summit. The “Eye of Diablo” was extinguished on December 8, 1941 just after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1964, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of Pacific Forces during World War II, relit the Beacon the first time and suggested it be lit every December 7 to honor those who served and sacrificed. The Beacon is lit at sunset and shines all night on this single evening each year. This year, it shines brighter than ever since it underwent an extensive restoration process in 2013 to ensure it continues to shine for many more years.

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Concord Pioneer •

December 19, 2014

From the desk of . . .

‘Christmas for Everyone’ makes holidays brighter decided to focus her efforts on a “one-time” project on Christmas Day, picking up the homeless off the street, bringing them to the church and feeding them a home-cooked meal. After this first successful year, she decided to repeat the event, but include children and families. “Christmas for Everyone” was born. A decade later, “Christmas for Everyone” settled into its current home at The New Hope International Church in North Concord. “We take over their gym and some of their classrooms. The church’s close proximity to Highways 4 and 242 make it a convenient location,” says Perez. All this space is needed to store the new or gently used blankets, coats, gloves, hats, robes, ponchos, sleeping bags and umbrellas that volunteers and partner organizations collect


PLANNING COMMISSION Mary Perez is a dreamer. Like many people, she used to dream about getting rich. She also dreamed about helping homeless people. A woman of faith, Perez recalls the day more than 28 years ago when she heard God to speak to her. “God told me I don’t have to be rich to help others. I just need some volunteers,” she says. After speaking with her pastor and gaining the support of her Concord church community, Perez

and distribute to approximately 3,000 adults and children, along with a present and a homecooked meal on Christmas Day. The event also includes volunteer hair stylists, live entertainment, face painting, and a bounce house for children. For homebound seniors who sign up for a visit via Meals on Wheels, “Christmas for Everyone” dispatches a small team to deliver a home-cooked meal and a present. With a small committee to help, the planning for “Christmas for Everyone” begins months in advance. Monetary donations are accepted yearround and may be mailed to 6 Robinsdale Rd., Martinez, CA 94553 or made online at www.ChristmasforEveryone. com. A vast network is needed to spread the word about the event,

Wishing you and your family

A Merry, Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year filled with happiness & good times!

including the local media,, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties, Meals on Wheels, the Monument Crisis Center, and the Salvation Army. This all-volunteer nonprofit organization also relies heavily on volunteers to unload trucks of donations, purchase presents and food, sort through donated clothes, decorate, serve meals on Christmas Day, and clean up on Dec. 26. Before Christmas, volunteers can come help during one of the scheduled times listed at: or sign up using the Christmas Day Volunteer form found online at: m/php/volunteer-pre.php When asked about the emphasis on everyone, including adults, receiving a present at “Christmas for Everyone,” Perez explains, “We think that everyone, all ages, should have a present. As a society, at Christmastime we do a lot for little ones in need, but not a lot for our teens and adults. At “Christmas for Everyone” our push has always been teenage and adult presents.




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We want to make sure that when our teens go back to school after the Christmas break, when someone asks them what they got for Christmas they can say they got something, that someone cared. After all, this is Christmas and we want to give the best.”

From the desk of . . .

2015 should be a great year for us all for real estate! Pete Laurence Broker, Realtor, GRI

LAST YEAR, WHEN THE CHRISTMAS FOR EVERYONE WAREHOUSE was hit by burglars, the program lost over $50,000 in supplies and equipment. Undaunted, Mary Perez (above) and her volunteers regrouped and restocked, and Christmas for Everyone didn’t miss a beat.


POLICE CHIEF I was recently at an event where I was asked about policing priorities. This individual wanted, I assume, to know what I thought were the most important or pressing crime issues in Concord. But before I could answer, this person told me what he thought were the most important policing problems in our town. This included speeding in the neighborhoods, homelessness, feeling safe at night downtown, and car burglaries. No question, these are all legitimate public safety concerns. I asked how these made the top of the list and was told, in some detail, this individual’s personal experience as a victim, seeing it first hand, or hearing about it through media or a friend. We could have spent more time discussing the merit of his priority list but it caused me to

reflect on how we, and I mean all of us, make a priority list regarding crime in our community. Is it a large number of events or those that end up on page one? Does violence rise to the top of the list? Gangs? Drunk driving? Each one of us could use a different methodology to determine a priority list. My first community meeting I attended as a young beat officer taught me about a community’s priority regarding crime. I had prepared all of these stats on burglaries, robberies and car thefts. I had a large map with plastic dots to demonstrate where the crimes were taking place and I even researched the most common type of property taken in the crime. After a few minutes of demonstrating my “neighborhood knowledge” of crime, one of the residents asked if I knew about the house across the street. They are having parties all night long on the weekends. Cars are speeding leaving the parties. I said no. Another resident asked if I knew about the homeless camp in the canyon, leaving trash and needles in the neighborhood. I

said no. And yet another asked about the juvenile fights occurring after school in the local strip mall parking lot. I said no. I told one of my fellow officers about my meeting. He laughed and then asked if a broken leg was an emergency. I thought about it for a second and said, “Probably not.” He said, “It is if it is your broken leg.” My perspective changed. There are incidents that occur in our community that may not appear as important to some as it is to others in the same town. I believe policing priorities are flexible, local, and workable. Some, due to the seriousness of street violence, must be addressed quickly. Those crime and disorder incidents that influence our fear in our town must also be addressed in an expeditious manner. But as I learned in that first community meeting, I must also be aware of the problems affecting those residents at the neighborhood level. Guy Swanger is Concord’s Chief of Police. Send questions or comments to

December 19, 2014

Concord Pioneer •

The big role of small business

EDI BIRSAN PULSE OF CONCORD In preparing for the article on small business I walked around the city on my usual choirs and asked the many small business folks what do they want? The subject of the conversations wandered all over the place, worse than the comments thread on a local blog but without the vitriol. The best answer was a single word: “Customers.” The business environment for the small folks here seems to be quite receptive of late, though a common fear is of increased competition from major chains. There were those that wanted the City of Concord to stay out of the way, and grumbled at past bureaucratic awkwardness, the wounds of which never healed. Others rejoiced at what they described as how easy it was to start a business here and the cooperation from the Permit

and Planning department. This was especially the case with nearly the half dozen new businesses I talked to and a great sign for the city. When asked in the recent Survey at if: The City of Concord is business friendly. 12.7 percent Strongly Agreed 34.5 percent Somewhat Agreed 18.3 percent Somewhat Disagreed 16.2 percent Completely Disagreed 18.3 percent Neither Agree or Disagree or Don’t Care (4.2) BIG POTENTIAL FOR BUSINESS But, the positives outnumber the negatives. Many may not realize the large business potential in Concord. First, it’s the biggest city in the county. And two BART stations and three major highways put the city at a distinct geographic advantage. Additionally the city has business resources outside of the government, which include the superlative JFK University Institute of Entrepreneurial Learning which has turned small businesses into major ones in the last five years. The city also boasts of one of the few Small Business Associations (CSBA) that is focused on representing small business

to the city government to smooth out the bumps in the road and lobby for economic issues, while leaving the more traditional “Meet and Greet/Business to Business” introductions to the Chamber of Commerce. We have two district oriented business groups: The Todos Santos Business Association focuses on downtown, and the Monument Business Network is focused on the Monument Corridor. The entire city council has recently spoken on the need for economic development. The Concord Base Reuse plan — with its anticipated additional 28,000 people — looking to start break ground in a two to three years, the opportunities for small business are growing. The paths to that development are varied and there is constant pressure to make sure that small businesses have a large role. At the end of the day though, when it all is all said and done, what small business wants is “customers”. Next month: The Debate on the Directly Elected Mayor. Edi Birsan is a current Concord City Council member and the views expressed here are his and not presented on behalf of the city or any other organization. Email comments to

Resources for small businesses in Concord  City of Concord, Dept. of Economic Development & Planning. Victoria Walker, Victoria.Walker@;  JFK University: Joyce Sietz;  Chamber of Commerce, Marilyn Fowler, mfowler@;  Todos Santos Business Association Darrin Walters,;  Concord Small Business Association. Virginia Thomas, VirginiaThomas@;  Work Force Development Board,

Page 7

Directory of Advertisers Automotive Clayton Valley Shell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-3900 Bakery Sweet Bakery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-0936 Beauty and Pampering Bella Mia Spa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .680-7792 Clayton Mind and Body Connections . . . . . . . . . .673-0686 Business Services Rising Moon Marketing & Public Relations . . . . .672-8717 Construction and Trades Appliance Repairs by Bruce, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2700 Belfast Plumbing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .457-5423 Burkin Electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-1519 Diablo View Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .822-5144 Gary’s Home Repair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .787-2500 J.A. Ronco Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .872-3049 Schaefer’s Painting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .260-6065 Tipperary Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216-2679 Dining and Entertainment Clayton Club Saloon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .673-0440 El Molino . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .963-7472 Los Rancheros Taqueria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .685-7110 Oakhurst Country Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9737 Scousers Fish’n Chips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .521-1962 Education St. Agnes School . . . . . . . . . . . Events Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market . . . . . . . . . . .800-949-3276 Financial, Insurance and Legal Services Archvest Wealth Advisors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .215-5600 DuRee, Daniel – The Law Office of . . . . . . . . . . .210-1400 Littorno, Richard – The Law Office of . . . . . . . . .432-4211 Van Wyck, Doug – State Farm Insurance . . . . . .672-2300 Flowers A Floral Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .705-3088

Library offers free Covered California workshops

Funerals Ouimet Funeral Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .682-4242

The open enrollment period for 2015 health insurance plans through Covered California began Nov. 15 and ends Feb. 15, 2015. The Concord Library is offering a series of workshops to assist residents in learning about their options. The workshop dates are Saturdays, Dec. 13, Jan. 10, Jan. 24 and Feb. 14 (the day before the enrollment period ends). Workshops are held in the library meeting room from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Concord residents are encouraged to attend one of the free workshops to find out about program eligibility, and if they qualify for free Medi-Cal or

Groceries Doorstep Farmers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .349-4568

financial assistance. Certified enrollment counselors will be on site to answer questions and assist with sign-ups. This event is open to the public. Assistance will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Some translation services will be available for Spanish speakers. Residents should bring the following: • Proof of identity: California ID, driver’s license, or U.S. Passport • Proof of California residency: California ID, driver’s license, rental/lease agree-

Residents needed for boards and commissions Have you ever wanted to be part of the city government of Concord? The City Council encourages residents to apply for openings on the Board of Appeals, Design Review Board, Personnel Board, and Planning Commission. Deadline for applications is Friday, January 9, 2015. The Board of Appeals is comprised of up to five members. This recruitment is for two members. The board hears appeals of decisions made by the City Building Official. Meetings are scheduled on an asneeded basis. The Design Review Board is comprised of five members; three design professionals, one public member and one member of the Planning Commission. This recruitment is for two design professionals. The board reviews the design of any development for which design review is required by city ordinance and any matter referred to the board by the Planning Commission, Zoning Administrator or Planning Manager. Members must be residents of Concord. Meetings are held the second and fourth Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. in the Permit Center Conference Room located at the

Civic Center, 1950 Parkside Drive. The Personnel Board is comprised of five members and is recruiting for three members. The board receives and hears appeals and grievances and, as directed by city council, conducts hearings on personnel matters, gathers information and data, and provides written reports of findings. Meetings are scheduled on an as-needed basis. The Planning Commission is comprised of five members and is recruiting for two openings. Members review developments, tentative subdivision maps, use permits, and rezoning applications as well as administering the City’s General Plan document. Applicants must be residents of Concord. The commission meets the first and third Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chamber located at Civic Center, 1950 Parkside Drive. Applications may be obtained at the city clerk’s offices, 1950 Parkside Drive, or requested by calling 925671-3495. Application forms are also available on the City’s website at www.cityofconcord.or g/ BCApplications.

ment, or utility bill • Proof of Income: Past 30 days of pay stubs, income tax return, or award letters (unemployment, disability benefits, social security benefits, etc.) • Proof of citizenship: Birth certificate, Permanent Resi-

dent Card (green card), or Certificate of Naturalization • Social Security numbers, birth dates and home zip code The Concord Library is located at 2900 Salvio St. For further information, contact the library at 925-6465455.

Detroit, from page 4 had concerns about the traffic exiting or entering Detroit to or from Walters Ave. The project proposes to add a rapid-flashing beacon system at that intersection. Some in attendance were skeptical that such a system would be effective there. Improvements in sidewalks, the removal of used cars for sale, and the installation of bike lanes are part of the project, as is the installation of traffic signal lights at the intersections of Detroit and Sunshine Drive and at Detroit and Laguna Street. Now, at those intersections, there are stop signs. But at night, the areas are very dark. New traffic light installations also provide excellent intersection lighting. Currently, the only traffic lights between Monument and Clayton Rd on Detroit are at Oakmead Drive.

Detroit Ave will remain one lane in each direction for vehicular traffic. The new bike paths are designed to provide a buffer between vehicles and pedestrians. Current parking along Detroit Avenue, for the most part, will not be affected. A second workshop will take place in early-to-mid December. The project plan with be finalized in January, with implementation projected for spring/summer of 2015. Most of the funding for the project comes from the One Bay Area Grant program. A design consultant will provide the civil engineering design services. The City contributed $25,653, preliminarily, as a local match for the project. For more information, contact Mark Migliore, City of Concord Public Works, at 925-671-3422.

Bell Ringers, from page 4 VOLUNTEERS HELP, TOO In addition to the 55 employees on the roster, many individual volunteers step in to ring the bell. Five different Rotary Clubs joined in on one weekend, the local chapter’s basketball team and Boy Scout troop gave a day of service, and on Sundays the Salvation Army Band, an integral part of the Salvation Army, plays at Fry’s Electronics in the Park and Shop. “Normally we don’t work on Sundays, since that is our day of worship, but it’s the only time all our band members can get together,” says Lewis. The bell ringers are asked to

stand, establish eye contact, be pleasant, and refrain from smoking, cell phone use or any controlled substance. They do not actively solicit money and, although they are asked to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the Salvation Army, they are not to proselytize or preach. Lewis spends up to four hours a day matching employees to locations. Weather, personality, location all play a role in finding the right fit. “Some may not do well in one place, but work out better in another,” she notes, philosophically. “Everyday is a new set of circumstances.”

Health Foresight Optometry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-4100 Erdell, Dr. - Orthodontics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .946-1951 Home and Garden Clayton Furniture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .686-2299 Diablo Lawnscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .381-3757 Interiors Panache . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-7920 Nichols Landscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9955 Soto HVAC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .497-7426 The Floor Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .969-9890 The Maids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .798-6243 The Royal Rooster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2025 Waraner Bros. Tree Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .831-2323 Waraner Tree Experts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .250-0334 Mailing Services The UPS Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-6245 Photography Rochellez Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .510-677-4170 Real Estate and Mortgage Services French, Lynne – Windermere Real Estate . . . . . .672-8787 Hayes, Diane and Bill – Better Homes Realty . . .890-4701 Howard, Don – Better Homes Realty . . . . . . . . . .408-3184 Howard, Emily – Better Homes Realty . . . . . . . .408-1871 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 Stojanovich, Jennifer – Better Homes Realty . . .567-6170 Vujnovich, George - Better Homes Realty . . . . . .672-4433 Recreation and Fitness Anytime Fitness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-6700 Concord American Little League . . . . . . . Diablo FC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Diablo Yoga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .304-2127 Earthquake Arabians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .360-7454 East Bay Regional Park District . . . . . . . . . .888-327-2757 Senior Services Courtyards at Pine Creek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .798-3900 Services, Other Clayton Valley Frameworks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-6066 ComputersUSA! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9989 Cutting Edge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .304-2200 HobbyTown USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .685-3802 Net Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-6029 Recycling Center & Transfer Station . . . . . . . . . .682-4518 Travel Travel to Go . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9840 Worship Concord United Methodist Church . . . . . . . . . . . .685-5260

Page 8

Concord Pioneer •


Holiday Toy Drives put smiles on kids faces and keep us healthy


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Open Mic Thur. nights, 8-11 pm

The holiday season can be a complicated time of the year. Emotions run high, extra obligations and stressors can make it easy to slip from nostalgia to melancholy. Giving to others, specifically children, this time of year, makes us feel more connected to our communities can have tremendous health benefits for the giver. People who donate and volunteer are more likely to live longer, be less sick, feel more optimistic and have more hope than their Grinchlike counterparts. Here are some local Toy Drives that can help put the spirit back in the holidays, and help many unfortunate children have a brighter season.

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TRADITIONAL TOY DRIVES U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is surely the biggest, most well-known toy drive in the country. It was founded in Los Angeles by Major Bill Hendricks in 1947. The following year the program was adopted by the US Marine Corps Reserve, and went national with the help of a Walt Disney designed logo. Toys for Tots is expected to bring toys to more than 7 million children this year. New, unwrapped toys and stuffed animals can be taken to Contra Costa County Fire District Fire Stations for donation. If you’d prefer to send a monetary donation, mail your check to Toys for Tots Program - U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. 3225 Willow Pass Road Concord, CA 94519. Concord’s own Monumental Toy Drive (MTD) was started in 1997 by the City of Concord alongside the Concord Police Department. Today, the program is a standalone non-profit organization that works to bring

toys to about 2,300 children from six local elementary schools. The MTD “helps the poorest children in Concord enjoy the warmth of the holiday season and the excitement of a gift they would not otherwise receive.” If you’d like to help, a new, unwrapped toy can be taken to collection barrels located in the Concord Police Department or City of Concord offices. MTD makes it easy to help out by volunteering or donating online with links on their home page at THE BIGGEST HEART IN CONCORD If Concord gave out a Most Compassionate Citizen Award, it would surely go to Kathy Gleason. Gleason works at the Contra Costa and Solano County Food Bank, co-founded the all-volunteer Concord Naval Weapons Station Neighborhood Alliance (CNWSNA), and her name appears on the papers of incorporation for ARF. She is well known for her own animal rescue and spay/neuter efforts in the community. As if all of this weren’t enough, Gleason embodies the spirit of giving every year by bringing Christmas to kids on Marclair Drive in Concord. It started one day when Gleason drove through the neighborhood and “saw people who needed a little bit of help.” While that thought would

have been the end of it for most people, it led to three sleepless nights for Gleason. Realizing that she knew how to “connect the dots,” she set about bringing Christmas to kids in Concord and unintentionally created a local tradition. Gleason gathers the names of all the children on the block a few weeks in advance and then farms out the presents to friends and family. Once everything is assembled, a big event is made for the kids on Christmas Eve, including a motorcycle convoy delivery donated by a local club. To support Gleason and her friends in their remarkable efforts, contact her at

MEMORIAL TOY DRIVE FOR FOSTER KIDS Last year, 21 year old Clayton resident Dylan Mitchell had just moved to San Francisco to begin an apprenticeship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers when he was killed in a collision with a truck while riding his bicycle. He was, by all accounts, “a light that could brighten the darkest room.” Coincidentally, his birthday was Dec. 25. This year Dylan’s mother, Julie Mitchell, and Dylan’s three siblings are starting a toy drive of their own. “Dylan loved Christmas, and kids,” remembers Mitchell. Since they became a foster family just a few months ago, the Mitchells would like their toy drive to both honor Dylan’s memory and help local foster kids. If you’d like to drop off a toy, you can contact Julie Mitchell directly at 925-9147752. To make a monetary donation, you can find Dylan’s Memorial Toy Drive for Foster Kids online at:

KATHY GLEASON WITH JORGE, ONE OF THE DOZENS of kids in the Marclair Drive neighborhood that benefit from her work to bring the Christmas spirit to those needing “a little bit of help.”

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Concord resident Micah Pierce likes to ride his bike down Clayton Road to work in downtown Concord each day, but doesn’t really care to take his life in hands when fighting for road space with cars. That’s why he said he was “stoked” when the Concord City Council last week took steps to establish a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, which will guide the city creating a comprehensive plan to make biking and pedestrian safety a priority in the city. Under the plan, a committee comprised of Vice Mayor Laura Hoffmeister, a planning commissioner, a member of the Parks, Recreation and Open Committee and two at-large residents will review city and regional biking and walking paths, and propose ways to link paths and to avoid “dumping” the trails onto busy streets. The establishment of the committee will also aid in gaining grant funds necessary to make the improvements. While the action was seen as a step forward by many biking and walking enthusiasts packing the council chamber, it was not without controversy. Many speakers urged the council to increase the make-up of the at-large members of the committee. Both Council members Edi Birsan and Ron Leone favored increasing the number of atlarge members on the commit-

tee to four, but Councilmember Dan Helix — who serves on the council subcommittee that recommended the formation of the BPAC — put the brakes on it. “I feel we have a strong representation from the city,” he said, adding that the meetings of the BPAC will be open and transparent, and anyone with a stake in the issue of bicycle and pedestrian safety will have an opportunity to express their feelings at those meetings. Alex Chavez, Chair of the Central County Regional of First5, lobbied the council to increase the at-large number of the group to at least three, with one coming directly from the Monument Community. “This is about the safety of those families in the area,” he said, adding than many walk to work, to shop and to drop off their children at school. Besides a large contingent from the Monument Corridor, the meeting was filled with many representatives of Bike Concord, the local advocacy group for bicycle safety. “It was great to see so many community members attend the meeting and speak passionately about making our streets safer,” said Adam Foster, head of the group. “Dozens of letters, numerous public comments and a lot of behind-the-scenes conversations have been had about this matter. Last night was an opportunity for the city council to give the community a vote of confidence in leading the charge

on making our streets safer. Two council members voiced support for a community-led effort. Two council members clearly did not want to hand over that kind of power. It was a power struggle. Ultimately, Mayor Tim Grayson was the deciding vote and he knew what was at stake.” After an amendment to the plan put forth by Birsan to increase the make-up of the committee to seven — including four at-large members — failed,

Grayson tried to find a consensus within the council. But Helix dug in his heels, and ultimately he, Hoffmeister and Grayson voted for the five-member committee. Birsan and Leone opposed the vote. “You hope that your elected officials will side with a passionate, patient, large, rational group of residents who take the time to have a voice in their community,” Foster said. “Last night, that did not happen.”

Two members needed for Bicycle, Pedestrian, Safe Routes Committee The Concord City Council encourages residents to apply for openings on the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Safe Routes to Transit Plan Advisory Committee. The deadline for applications to be received by the City Clerk is Jan. 9, 2015. The Bicycle, Pedestrian and Safe Routes to Transit Plan Advisory Committee is comprised of one Council member, one Planning Commission member, one Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Committee member, and two at-large members with two alternates. This recruitment is for two at-large members and two alternates. This Advisory Committee’s focus will be to provide input for the development of policies and programs that support safe alternative modes of transportation through the preparation of the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Safe Routes to Transit Master Plan. The Advisory Committee will meet approximately once a month for the duration of the plan, estimated through mid-2016. Applications may be obtained from the City Clerk’s Office, 1950 Parkside Drive, or requested by calling (925) 671-3495. Application forms are also available on the City’s website at

December 19, 2014

Concord Pioneer •

Page 9

BUSINESS Chamber shines spotlight on the Diablo Toastmasters Club 598 Road in Concord. At the meetings, members participate in “Table Topics” designed to build extemporaneous speaking skills. Prepared speech presentations are then followed by feedback from the audience. To learn more about the Diablo Toastmasters Club, visit


CHAMBER OF COMMERCE The Diablo Toastmasters Club 598 was chartered in 1948 to help people build their confidence and suppress fears about presentations and public speaking, an essential aspect of creating a successful business, and is one of the oldest chapters in California. The Toastmasters organization began 90 years ago, and now spans across 126 countries with 14,000 clubs and 300,000 members. The Diablo Toastmasters hopes to become a “go to” source for members of the community to improve their public speaking and presentations skills through feedback from various Diablo Toastmasters members. Melissa Rea, Chamber Membership Services Coordinator recently spoke to the club about the Chamber, detailing events

For more information on becoming a member of the Concord Chamber of Commerce, please visit or call (925) 685-1181.

TODOS SANTOS BUSINESS ASSOCIATION Melissa Rea, Concord Chamber Membership Services Coordinator and Sterling Routson-Thomas, Attorney at Law at Toastmasters meeting.

and mutual benefits the Chamber and Toastmasters can share. Sterling Routson-Thomas, an attorney and member of the Concord Young Professionals with the Concord Chamber, was also invited to inform the group

about the Young Professionals, including events held and the mission of the group. The Diablo Toastmasters meet every Thursday from 7-9 Sizzler’s Restaurant, located at 1353 Willow Pass

City says Chevron’s loss shouldn’t impact economy PEGGY SPEAR Concord Pioneer

When the Chevron offices on Diamond Blvd. close their doors for good in 2016, Concord will lose more than the 800 jobs there; the company has been an iconic business resident since the late 1960s. “We are sorry to see them go,” says the city’s Economic Development and Housing Manager John Montagh. “They’ve been a great corporate citizen for many years. My dad even worked there.” But the loss doesn’t outweigh the gains the city has made in bringing businesses to city in the last few years. “Chevron represents only about 1 percent of the total workforce in Concord,” Montagh says.”From an economic perspective, it’s not a huge impact.” Chevron will transfer employ-

ees in its finance and information technology departments to the company’s Bishop Ranch location in San Ramon. The company plans to sell the buildings, and according to Montagh, there has already been inquiries from other businesses interested in moving to the offices because of its prime location. “The property is located near I-680, across from the Concord Hilton, and near the Willows Shopping Center, which offers great shopping and restaurants,” Montagh says. “I don’t know of another property that offers as much in the central county area.” Montagh is quick to note that while Chevron has downsized and prepares to leave, several other companies have moved in to the city in recent years, improving the economic vitality of the city, which is known as a regional

job center. Those companies include Fresenius Medical Care, which left Walnut Creek, and Genworth Financial, which relocated from Pleasant Hill. AIG and Amtrust Financial also moved to Concord, adding in all 200,000 square feet of office space and more than 1,000 jobs. “Concord is a regional job center, offering diverse opportunities,” Montagh says. “We’re attracting Fortune 500 companies, Research & Development companies, biotechnology, retail and entrepreneurs. We want it all.” During the swearing-in ceremony held at the Dec. 2 city council meeting, all the newlyelected members — incumbents Ron Leone and Laura Hoffmeister, as well as Mayor Tim Grayson — said economic development was a priority for the city.

Where to go for LOCAL news For fast, on-the-spot coverage of the latest police action, traffic jams, emergency information and chat, social media and local blogs, like are often good sources of breaking news. For more complete, in-depth coverage of local news, readers turn to their independently owned community newspapers. With news that people care about – local politics, schools, sports, events and stories about their friends and neighbors, the community newspaper is social media the old fashioned way. To find out what is happening in neighboring cities, check out these Contra Costa Community News Group newspapers Clayton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Clayton Pioneer . . . . . . . . . . Concord . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Concord Pioneer . . . . . . . . . . Pleasant Hill, Martinez . . . . . . . . . . . .Community Focus . . . . . . . . . Lafayette, Orinda and Moraga . . . . . .Lamorinda Weekly . . . . . . . . San Ramon, Danville, and Alamo . . . .Valley Sentinel . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Contra Costa Community Newspaper Group is a consortium of independent, locally newspapers with a combined circulation of more than 150,000. To advertise in all five papers with just one phone call, go to or call 844.457.7665

Vinnie’s offers a rockin’ good time The Todos Santos Business Association is proud to put this month’s spotlight on Vinnie’s Bar and Grille. Since 2002 Vinnie’s has been owned and run by Dalton Parker and his partner Jeanne Manny. Manny describes her role as, “Bar Mother and Chief Peon.” Vinnie’s is located in the Bacon Block Building at 2045 Mt Diablo St. in Concord. In fact, Dalton owns the entire building — which helps if the music gets too loud. Vinnie’s is one of Concord’s premier spots for live music and dancing. Starting with Tuesdays, Vinnie’s offers Country music and line dancing lessons. Wednesdays are Jam nights, so performers can bring their instruments and be ready to play. Thursday is the very popular Salsa Night. Patrons can dress up and be prepared for a work out. On Friday and Saturdays, Vinnie’s always has live bands from 9 p.m. to 1 p.m. There is Classic Rock, Metal, Pop, R&B and more from some of the best bands in the East Bay. Check Vinnie’s website calendar for information on cover charges and bands at Vinnie’s also serves great bar food every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to midnight. It’s a great place to grab a burger, fish and chips or share some of their famous fried zucchini and bond with friends over drinks. Vinnie’s also offers pool tables, darts and an outside patio where smoking is allowed. There are plenty of TV screens for sports enthusiasts and Vinnie’s boasts a great staff of bartenders and security. Some have been working at Vinnie’s since it opened. Vinnie’s is a safe and fun place to dance, meet friends, enjoy a game of pool or grab a bite to eat.

P.O. Box 1246 6200 Center Street, Suite H, Clayton, CA 94517 TAMARA AND 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 Editor PAMELA W IESENDANGER , Administration, Calendar Editor S TAFF W RITERS : Peggy Spear, Pamela Wiesendanger, Jay Bedecarré

C ORRESPONDENTS : Cynthia Gregory, Patricia Romero, John Jackson, John Miller


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 name, address and daytime telephone number. We will not print anonymous letters. E-mail your letter to Letters must be submitted via Email.


Tel: (925) 672-0500 Fax: (925) 672-6580 Tamara Steiner Send Ads to Send Sports News to Send School, Club and Calendar Items to

The Clayton Pioneer and the Concord Pioneer are monthly publications delivered free to homes and businesses in 94517, 94518, 94519 and 94521. ZIP code 94520 is currently served by drop site distribution. The papers are published by Clayton Pioneer, Inc., Tamara and Robert Steiner, PO 1246, Clayton, CA 94517. The offices are located at 6200 Center St. Suite H, Clayton, CA 94517 LET US KNOW Weddings, 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 resident in our home delivery area. Submit on our website and be sure to attach a JPG photo that is at least 3 MB. Also on the website are forms for calendar items, events & press releases. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Both Pioneer newspapers welcome letters from our readers. As a general rule, letters should be 175

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CIRCULATION as of Sept. 2014 The Concord Pioneer is delivered monthly to 30,000 homes and businesses Papers are delivered by carriers for ABC Direct around the last Friday of the month. To stop delivery for any reason, call the office at (925) 672-0500 . If you are NOT receiving the Pioneer, please check the distribution map on the website. If you live in the shaded area and are not receiving the paper, please let us know. If you are not in the shaded area, please be patient. We will come to your neighborhood soon. The Clayton Pioneer is delivered by US Mail to 5,500 homes and businesses in 94517 around the second Friday of the month. SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe to either the Clayton Pioneer or the Concord Pioneer, call the office at (925) 672-0500. Subscriptions are $35/year for each paper, $60/year for both.

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Page 10

Concord Pioneer •

December 19, 2014

SCHOOLS Concord High CHS offers 12 Days of Happiness


Ygnacio Valley we covered all the mirrors at our school and told our student body to celebrate their inner beauty because true beauty shines through your personality. All these days were focused on making our student’s week better. The Happiness Campaign organizers are glad that they have the chance to make such great

things happen around campus. There’s no better feeling than making someone smile, and with the Happiness Campaign, something as small as a box of a candy can do that. Azeema Yahya is a senior and Codrum Major. She loves music and plans to attend UC Davis in the fall. Send comments to

Stephen Brady

Bond money lights up Ygnacio Valley


Rianne Pfalzgraff CHS PRINCIPAL

WEIGHTS TEACHER AND HEAD FOOTBALL COACH BRIAN HAMILTON (left) and government and psychology teacher Jeff Schiebler arm wrestle for a good cause — granting a student’s wish.

December is the month of giving for Concord High School. At our school we have something called the CHS Happiness Campaign. This is where students from Leadership dedicate a few weeks to simply making people happy. On Dec. 4 we started our “12 Days of Wishes.” This is when we try to make as many wishes as we can come true. We’ve been able to grant wishes by giving people candy, watching teachers arm wrestle, and even having the band, “5 Seconds of Summer” serenade a few people. As one of the students in charge of the campaign, Vanessa Martinez mentioned, “It’s the part of making

people happy that makes me happy. It’s one of best activities at Concord High.” Furthermore, the week of Dec. 15 was our “Happiness Week.” Monday was “Hug Me Monday,” where the students gave out hugs to everyone. Then it was “Chocolatte Tuesday” where we gave out free hot chocolate during lunch. Next was “Worry Free Wednesday” where students wrote down all their worries on balloons and then we released them together letting go of all our worries. “Thoughtful Thursday” gave a chance for people to thank one another publically. And lastly, we ended the week with “Feel Good Friday,” where

New facility will serve CHS students

Concord High is very excited to present our new Academic Honor Roll distinctions! Students with a 3.0 – 3.49 will earn their place on the Minutemen Green Honor Roll, a 3.5 – 3.99 the Minutemen Silver Honor Roll, and finally a 4.0 or higher the Minutemen Gold Honor Roll. This quarter proved to be successful, as 818 students proved their commitment to academic excellence. Students will receive an Honor Roll certificate and their names will be posted outside the office in our display cases. The Senior class has proven strong, as 72 students made the Minutemen Gold Honor Roll. These students are: McKenzie Acton, Alejandra Alegria, Jowar Basulto, Peter Bergen, Vandelinda Beri, Danielle Blake, Deekota BrettBlunt, Parker Burr, Monica Camare-

na, Yvonne Cao, Kelsey Clark, Nicholas Colarich, Alia CortezBridges, Mitchell Daniels, Devynn Darner, Jessica Daynes, Kimberly Dell, Philip Dempster, Tiffany Dinh, Jacob Dowd, Natassja Jacklene Esquivel, Ervin Fernandez, Jenna Fitzpatrick, Gabriela Flores Caro, Leah Ford, America Frausto, Justin Furtado, Benjamin Geiser, Terra Gifford, Mariah Gonzalez, Rachel Henry, Cesar Gabriel Higuera Moras, Eric Higuera Ramirez, Sequoia Huerta, Kevin Kruse, Amelia Kubik, Jennifer Lam, Enrique Loza-Vega, Daisy Martinez, Vanessa Martinez, Shelby McCarthy, Jacob Meyer, Isabella Mulford, Jacob Neef, Biviana Ochoa, James Olesen, Dani Pallas, Dylan Parisi, Nathan Pass, Nathan Petersen, Jack Pickard, Jonathan Pluth, Taylor Ramson, Lisa Repetto, Natalya Reynoso, Trever Rivera, Thomas Salvin, Molly Santa Maria, Brevin Schmidt, Alondra Serrano, Jakub Sevcik, Brett Shearer, Nicole Slattengren, Ebonie Smart, Renessa Soriano, Mathew Tara, Faith Veloria, Ernesto Ventura, Brittany von Savoye, Azeeya Yahya and Ning Zheng.

Our premier Art & Science teachers are doing excellent work, presenting professional development. Leslie Addiego, Gary Macaluso, Gioia Stark, Nastasha Robinson, Stephen Brady, and Andrew Hubbell are “representing”! Performing Arts outperformed itself. The music boosters stepped up with wonderful support. They are currently working on a trip to New Orleans. Given Kelly Cooper, Thom Kwiatkowski, Stephen Brady, and Measure C’s Charlie Beirgarten, Tim Cody, and Mitchell Stark, the dance studio, formerly a broken stage floor, is up! Our recent Santa Cruz band trip, guitar concert and districtwide music practice (our Honor Jazz Rehearsal) were celebrations. Our Puente small learning community, facilitated by teachers Kara Yu and Samantha Hopper and administrator Socorro Lomas, toured colleges and universities. including UC Santa Barbara and UCLA. Our firstgeneration college aspirants have bought even more into their education as a result.

Our football teams put many points on the scoreboard and won a number of games. We are honored (again) to have Coach Puentes ensuring our athletes grow as team, have fun, and learn the game. Speaking of fun in learning: our Health Academy, headed by Shannon Carr, recently took a working field trip to John Muir Medical. They met with professionals, learned, and fostered smiles. Our Education Academy, facilitated by Thatcher Palmer, hosted outstanding speakers, including vice principal Thom Kwiatkowski, secondary support administrator Bill Morones, Cheryl Hansen of our Board, and superintendent Dr. Nellie Meyer. SF Giants Brandon Crawford and Wells Fargo presented checks for the KNBR Step Up to the Plate for Education grants program. YVHS’s football team received $5,000. Coach Phillip Puentes, the gogetter in this endeavor, embodies the Warrior spirit! Send comments and questions to

Tensions erupt at two recent CVCHS board meetings JAY BEDECARRÉ Concord Pioneer

While academics and athletics are soaring at Clayton Valley Charter High School, bad blood and tensions are running high at the board level, marring the high school’s success. Raucous verbal exchanges and protests marked two recent governing board meetings in the past several weeks between audience, board members and staff, stemming back to an administrative blowup last spring, the firing of the IT Director and this month’s board elections. Acrimony first reached a boiling point on Thanksgiving eve at a special board meeting called to consider the termination of school IT director Matt Rosso due to his actions following the firing of administrator and charter leader Pat Middendorf. At the hastily called meeting in

the school library on Thanksgiving eve to deal with the Rosso matter, there were emotional outbursts by speakers and members of the audience supporting Rosso. FIRING OF IT DIRECTOR The charges against Rosso, a 10-year classified employee, revolved around his actions following the termination of Middendorf last May. Linzey instructed Rosso to secure and archive all of Middendorf ’s emails on the school system in anticipation of potential litigation following her termination. He was instructed to do this in confidence but eventually told both Middendorf and then board president Tom Branich. Rosso was terminated by the board after a closed session review of the charges. At the December meeting there were about 50 audience members dressed primarily in black and many carrying signs

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from the California Teachers Association lining the back of the school’s small gym behind the audience of community members, teachers and students. During the three and a half hour session there were a number of outbursts from audience members, a couple of standing ovations for speakers and cries of “shame on you” when board actions didn’t meet with audience approval. As he had done at the regular November board meeting Executive Director Dave Linzey, at whom much of the anger was directed, made a statement defending his administration. He said that benefits and salaries have increased approximately 20 percent for all CVCHS teachers and certificated staff since turning into a charter — the largest increase in the county — and their new collective bargaining agreement has significant protections for teachers and staff.

He stated that in the 30 months of Clayton Valley Charter an average of 1 percent of the staff has been disciplined and not a single tenured teacher or permanent classified staff member has been terminated by the board. Management staffers Middendorf and Rosso are the only permanent employees who have been fired. BOARD ELECTIONS At that meeting, board members Ted Meriam and Megan Kommer were each re-elected to two-year terms by the board with teacher representatives Christine Reimer and Amber Lineweaver dissenting. Diane Bailey was returned to the board as the classified staff rep after her only challenger, Rosso, was fired and thus no longer on the ballot. Chemistry teacher Victoria Campbell was elected as a teacher representative by her fellow faculty members. She replaces Reimer who chose not to run for the seat

she had been appointed to last spring. Jim Killoran, a 26-year Chevron employee, was elected from a slate of four candidates for the one-year community member-at-large seat. But the retired teacher post remained unfilled, due to more controversy. Retired teacher Dick Ellis recently stepped aside as a candidate for a new term. The 83year-old former teacher at the school faced a challenge from retired school principal and teacher Bud Beemer, who was a student while Ellis was teaching at Clayton Valley. Ellis said he dedicated three years to the board for “doing the right thing” and feels that “because of all of the things going on, I withdrew my application to run.” A couple audience members had verbally challenged Ellis at the Thanksgiving eve board meeting. However, the night before

last week’s meeting, outside counsel Paul Minney determined that Beemer was not eligible to sit on the board because of two apparent conflicts of interest. Beemer is the paid commissioner of the Bay Valley Athletic League, currently projected as the new home of CVCHS athletic teams starting in 2016-17. He also has a “romantic relationship” with MDUSD School Board member Cheryl Hansen. CVCHS rents its facilities from MDUSD and thus there is the potential for a conflict, said Minney, who concluded “the appointment of Bud Beemer…would create an impermissible conflict of interest and would constitute an incompatible office with his current office of Commissioner of the BVAL.” The board put off taking any action on the retired teacher position until January.

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December 19, 2014

Concord Pioneer •

Page 11

Northgate Northgate students debate at Mock Congress Emily Wright NORTHGATE CORRESPONDENT

Every school has traditions and “rites of passage.” When I was a freshman at Northgate there were several senior traditions I noticed. One of them involved two days during which seniors disappeared from classrooms only to show up at lunch dressed formally and talking about laws and politics. I soon found out that

they were participating in an event called Mock Congress. Seniors had been sorted into several “senates” where they debated student-written bills using the same regulations as the actual U.S. Senate. Each year after that, I was quite aware of this senior event, and though I was very interested in participating, it seemed extremely far away in the future. Now, however, I’m a senior, and now I have participated in

Mock Congress. I wrote a bill, chose a party, and was put into the Little Theater Stripes Senate where I debated with other seniors about which bills would benefit America most. It seemed almost surreal as it occurred. Now that it’s over, I kind of feel like I should still be waiting for my time in Mock Congress. After so much anticipation, how can the two days spent debating bills be over? Not to say that it wasn’t

rewarding. Going into caucuses, coming up with amendments, and stating facts to either support or put down a bill definitely helped show what goes into a real congressperson’s job. I’ll carry this knowledge with me. But just like everything so far this senior year, it went by too fast. Emily Wright is a senior at Northgate High School. She is currently the news editor for the Northgate Sentinel newspaper and is in her second year of ROP Journalism II. Email comments or questions to

Mt. Diablo High



Stllar staff helps CVCHS soar

We have a multitude of “shining stars” at Clayton Valley Charter High School. With more than 125 teachers and staff members, CVCHS has many talented and positive staff members who put the focus on kids. I would like to recognize a handful of the many staff members who go above and beyond to make a real difference in the life of a school or who demonstrate exceptional talent. HELEN BENDOYRO – ADMISSIONS OFFICER Helen is truly a difference

maker on campus. Her consistently positive, warm, humorous approach causes her to stand out as a real joy for others to associate with. I applaud her tireless efforts to register students, communicate with parents, print transcripts, handle report cards, meet deadlines, and do so much more. KEO PIERCE – MEDIA ASSISTANT (LIBRARY) Keo is dedicated to getting the job done well. Ordering all the textbooks, scheduling classes in the library, managing shipments and orders and

working closely with students and parents is an endless job. Yet Keo manages all of this with class, organization and teamwork. GARY STOFER – FINANCIAL LITERACY TEACHER Gary has taken the Financial Literacy program to great heights, winning awards for his students, bringing in the banking community to hold Financial Literacy Fairs, etc. He is student-centered and always growing and learning as an educator, even after his recent 74th birthday! He is truly a pleasure to have on our CVCHS team. It is truly a privilege to work with such a talented and positive group of educators who truly make a difference in my life and the life of our staff and students! Send comments and questions to

Alberto Ruiz

MDHS shines on the field, in class


It’s been an exciting fall at Mt. Diablo High School. Although our football team lost to Los Lomas in the very first round of playoffs, the students, faculty and staff of MDHS could not be any prouder of the team. It was quite amazing to see the bleachers packed on the night of the playoff game, roaring with excitement for our team. Now, the school looks with


PHMS stages warm-hearted ‘Christmas Carol’

Recently at Pine Hollow, more than 30 students performed in the classic tale “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, helping adults and children everywhere get into the holiday spirit. These blooming actors and actresses are part of an afterschool drama class called Defying Gravity, which meets Tues-

days and Thursdays in the Pine Hollow multi-use room. For the past two months, they have been working diligently on their play and Christmas music. The students’ hard worked was certainly rewarding for them; on Friday, Dec. 12 the Pine Hollow M.U. was full to the brim with eager audience members awaiting the only matinee

the students were offering. Everyone who attended the performance was touched by the moral of the story, which never gets old, and filled with Christmas spirit. The middle-schoolers in the play did a real service by standing in the spotlight, literally, and showing the residents of Concord, as well as people from out of town, the true meaning of Christmas. After being visited by the three ghosts, the only time Scrooge might say “Bah, Hum-bug” is if someone was left out during the holidays. From Pine Hollow to you, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Rayna Stanziano is in the eighth grade at Pine Hollow. She has a passion for writing and loves English and swimming. She lives in Concord. Send comments to

anticipation towards next year to see what will happen and hope that the football team can go even farther than this year. But MDHS is not all about sports, as our academics are soaring as well. The first quarter of the school year saw a large increase of students making honor roll, a substantial than recent years. As the second quarter is coming to an end and Christmas break is

rapidly approaching, many students are bracing for the muchdreaded week of finals that will occur in mid-January. All these good deeds have not gone unnoticed. The MDHS administration congratulated all of our students who have been achieving academic success and who are continuing to do so by hosting a huge Honor Roll Rally last week. This is an annual event at our school, but this year it was bigger than ever. We head into the second part of the school year in hopes that this success continues.

Alberto Ruiz is a senior at Mt. Diablo High where he is student body secretary and a member of the Medical Biotechnology Academy. Send questions and comments to

Hispanic Chamber’s conference inspires future leaders LAURA MALDONADO Special to the Pioneer

Pine Hollow

Student senators (from left to right) Senator Krasilnikov, Senator Lam and Senator Law listen to discussion during Mock Congress.

More than 200 high school students from throughout Contra Costa County attended the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Contra Costa County Foundation’s (H5CF) 14th Annual “Narrowing the Gap” Education Conference at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga last month. The Conference, whose

theme was “Grow Today, Lead Tomorrow,” brought various corporate and community leaders from the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), business/finance, public service and human resources sectors. Among the participants there were representatives from AT&T, Goldman Sachs & Co., U.S. Secret Service and the Lawrence Livermore Lab, all inspiring our future generations to “Grow

From left: Dan Walden, Treasurer for H5C, Emanuel Gomez, Las Montanas, Johnny Huang, President of H5C, Edgar Hernandez, scholarship recipient, College Park High School, Jesse Tejada, H5C Education Conference Scholarship Committee Chair.

Today, Lead Tomorrow.” As H5CF President Johnny Huang said, “This Annual Education Conference brings together stakeholders in the community to show our young Latinos that they are important and they can achieve great success through higher education.” Throughout the day, students were able to hear from many professionals who shared their stories and struggles along the way. Conference participant Ivan Elizondo, mechanical engineer at DOW, said, “I believe in the youth of this community. I believe that the kids that come here believe in their future and can give back to their communities in the future.” Lastly, H5CF presented a $1,000 scholarship to Edgar Hernandez from College Park High School, courtesy of Las Montañas. “I’m thankful to get the scholarship and I’ll make good use of my education wherever I study” said the scholarship winner, a student at College Park High School in Pleasant Hill.

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Concord Pioneer •

December 19, 2014


IN CONCORD Tuesdays Farmers’ Market Tuesdays year round. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Todos Santos Plaza, downtown Concord.


Dec. 22 Home for the Holidays

Feb. 1 Concert

Concert performed by Diablo Symphony Orchestra and featuring The Ashmolean Singers. 7:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $12-$28. 943-7469.

Performed by the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra. 3 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. Free tickets: 943-7469.


Dec. 23 Home for the Holidays

3rd Sundays Antique Faire Antiques, collectibles, handmade arts and crafts. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Todos Santos Plaza, downtown Concord. Free admission.

Concert performed by California Symphony and The Pacific Boychoir. 3 and 7:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $70. 943-7469.

Dec. 24 Concert

Thru Dec. 21 Holiday Home Tour See the Galindo House decorated in holiday splendor by the Concord Historical Society. Refreshments. Weekends 1 – 4 p.m. Wednesdays 7 – 9 p.m. 1721 Amador Ave., Concord. 685-8203.

Christmas Eve concert performed by San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. 5, 7 and 9 p.m. Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., San Francisco. $25-$35.

On Sale Now Concerts The Concord Pavilion is located at 2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord. Concert schedule for 2015: May 28, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, 7 p.m. July 21, 5 Seconds of Summer, 7 p.m. Aug. 7, Idina Menzel, 7 p.m.

Christmas for Everyone, Dec. 25

Jan. 25 - 27 Auditions

Dec. 25 Christmas for Everyone

Clayton Theatre Company is holding auditions for “Arsenic and Old Lace” in April and “Urinetown” in October. No appointment necessary. Jan. 25 from 1 – 5 p.m. Jan. 26 and 27 from 7 – 10 p.m. Endeavor Hall, 6008 Center St., Clayton. For more information, go to, audition page.

Sing Christmas carols with the ABC (Any Body Can) Singers. Songbooks provided. 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. New Hope International Church, 2120 Olivera Court, Concord. Free. Contact Maxine for more information at or 969-9693.

Explore the slopes of Mount Diablo in search of (Santa’s) beard lichen, romantic mistletoe and colorful Christmas berry. 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Meet at Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center. Registration required: or

Jan. 4 Oak Knoll and Summit Loop Hike Hike and visit to Interpretive Center. 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Meet at Juniper Camp Trailhead.

Jan. 11 Circle the Mountain Hike Views in all directions while circling Mt. Diablo peak. 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Meet at Juniper Camp Trailhead.

Jan. 18 Mushrooms, Fungus and Lichens See the fascinating colors and shapes of some local fungi. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Summit Audio Visual Room.

EVENTS & ENTERTAINMENT Thru Dec. 21 “A Christmas Carol” Brimming with music and dance, love and laughter and scary ghosts. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $41-$49.

Thru Dec. 21 “The Biggest Gift”

Dec. 27 Comedy Show XXII Big Fat Year End Kiss Off comedy show presented by Worst of Durst. 8 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $22-$25. 943-7469.

Jan. 10 Build a Kestrel Nesting Box Learn through hands-on demo and take home your own nesting box. 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Markham Regional Arboretum Society, 1202 La Vista Ave., Concord. Supply fee $20 members; $25 non-members. Limit 10 participants.

Beginning Jan. 15 Ham Radio Licensing Course Seven-week course to learn what you need to earn your Technician Class FCC Amateur Radio License. Held by Salvation Army and Mt. Diablo Amateur Radio Club. 6:30 – 9 p.m. Salvation Army, 3950 Clayton Road, Concord. Class is free. $7 materials fee plus textbook. Registration required.

Jan. 17 Magician and Mentalist Performance by Jay Alexander. 8 p.m. El Campanil Theatre, 602 W. Second St., Antioch. $25.

Jan. 18 Whimsy and Virtuosity Presented by California Symphony. Pre-concert lecture 3 p.m. Concert 4 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $70. 943-7469.

Jan. 23 Cattywampus! Presented by Ready or Not Improv. 8:15 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $15. 943-7469.

Jan. 23 Concert

Presented by Fantasy Forum Actors. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $14. 9437469.

Performed by Winds Across the Bay. 8 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $12. 943-7469.

Dec. 19 Mobius Trio

Jan. 23 – 24 “Teen Cinderella”

Performs for Walnut Creek Guitar Series. 7:15 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $25. 943-7469.

Dec. 19 – 20 “Hansel and Gretel” A fairytale adventure of a mystical forest, two lost children, an enticing gingerbread house and a wicked witch. Presented by Solo Opera. Del Valle Theatre, 1963 Tice Valley Blvd., Walnut Creek. $25-$40. 943-7469.

Dec. 19 – 21 “The Nutcracker” Performed by the Brentwood Children’s Ballet Theater. El Campanil Theatre, 602 W. Second St., Antioch. $16-$20.

Dec. 20 ‘Twas the Improv Before Christmas Presented by Trapped in a Rumo Improv. 7:45 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $12-$15. 943-7469.

Dec. 20 Holiday Party A night of dance led by ballerina Rosselyn Ramirez; food, wine, punch. Proceeds benefit Diablo Ballet and its Performing Arts Education and Enrichment for Kids Program. 7 – 9 p.m. Steinway Piano Gallery, 1605 Broadway St., Walnut Creek. $50.

Jan. 9 ARF Comedy Night

Walk-through Christmas musical light show to raise funds for Katie-Grace Groebner fund of the Children’s Organ Transplant Association. 1185 Pine Lane, Clayton. Free admission.

Dec. 21 Winter Solstice Hike

Veterans of Foreign Wars serve breakfast to the public: Eggs, pancakes, sausage, beverage. 8 – 11 a.m. VFW Post 1525, 2290 Willow Pass Road, Concord. $5, $3 children under 12.

Baked goods for your holiday feast. Some kitchen craft items. Proceeds benefit St. Bonaventure Food Pantry. Open to the public approximately one hour after service. Mass times: Sat. 5 p.m. Sun. 7:30, 9 and 11 a.m.; 12:45 and 5 p.m. St. Bonaventure Foyer, 5562 Clayton Road, Concord. 672-5800.

Thru Dec. 28 A Heart for Christmas

Mount Diablo Interpretive Association programs listed are free with the exception of park entrance fee. Go to and click on Events Calendar for more information.

2nd and 4th Sundays Pancake Breakfast

Dec. 20 – 21 Country Kitchen



Presented by Civic Arts Education Junior Theatre. Del Valle Theatre, 1963 Tice Valley Blvd., Walnut Creek. $16.75. 943-7469.

Jan. 24 – 25 “Annie Jr.”

An evening of laughter benefiting the Animal Rescue Foundation’s lifesaving programs. 7:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $20, $40, $60. 943-7469.

Jan. 10 ARF Stars to the Rescue XXIV Proceeds allow ARF to save dogs and cats that have run out of time at public shelters and bring people and animals together. 7 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $45, $100, $250. 943-7469.

Jan. 24 Crab Feed Crab feed, music, dancing. Sponsored by Mt. Diablo High School Sports Hall of Fame. 6:30 p.m. Zio Fraedo’s, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill. $50; $60 after Jan. 1.

Jan. 31 Crab Feed St. Agnes School and St. Agnes Knights of Columbus host this crab feed to raise funds for the Parent Association and programs for the students. 5:30 p.m. Garaventa Center, Carondelet High School, 1133 Winton Drive, Concord. $55. Tickets available until Jan. 19 at the school or parish offices, 3886 Chestnut Ave., Concord. For questions or tickets, contact Danielle Grimesey at 330-7317 or

AT THE LIBRARY The Concord Library is at 2900 Salvio St. Programs are free unless otherwise noted. See full schedule of events at or 6465455.

Dec. 22 Holiday Houses Build a graham cracker house for the holiday season. Kids up to age 11. 7 – 8 p.m. Registration required.

Jan. 10, 24 Covered California Workshop Enrollment and questions/answers. 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Jan. 26 Financial Education Workshop Organizing your financial records. First of nine financial workshops Concord Library is having in partnership with Travis Credit Union. 6 – 7:30 p.m. Registration recommended. The Clayton Library is at 6125 Clayton Road. Programs are free unless otherwise noted. See full schedule of events at or call 673-0659.

Jan. 7 Winter Business Series Charlie Michelson discusses his experience growing a small ship supply company to the international level. 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 12 Clayton Library Book Club Sunny Solomon leads book discussion. Book to be announced. Open to anyone who wants to join. 7 p.m.


Beloved musical about a sunny orphan and her adventures presented by Poison Apple Productions’ newest branch, Apple Teens. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $12. 943-7469.

6:30 p.m., Council Chamber, Concord Civic Center, 1950 Parkside Dr.

Jan. 30 – Feb. 28 “The Book Club Play”

1st and 3rd Wednesdays Concord Planning Commission

A comedy about books and people who love them. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $39-$58.

1st, 2nd and 4th Tuesdays Concord City Council

7 p.m., Council Chamber, Concord Civic Center, 1950 Parkside Dr.

Jan. 31 – Feb. 1 “Adventures of Alisa” Performed in Russian by Russian Drama Club Skazka. 4:45 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $17. 943-7469.

Meeting dates and times for local clubs and organizations are listed at Click on ‘Links’

December 19, 2014

Concord Pioneer •

Page 13

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ARF delivers pets for Christmas This holiday season, your family’s newly adopted pet can be delivered right to your door. ARF will offer a holiday pet delivery service to those adopting a furry friend, granting wishes across the community. For three days leading up to Christmas Day, choose a pet from ARF for your own family or another loved one, and sign up to have one of ARF’s volunteer “elves” deliver the adopted

dog or cat on the afternoon of Dec. 24 or until noon on Dec. 25, right in time for Christmas or Hanukkah. “A home is the best present a shelter pet could wish for, and there are few gifts as great as the opportunity to share your life with an adopted dog or cat,” says Elena Bicker, ARF’s Executive Director. “ARF wants to save more lives and create oneof-a-kind memories for families

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to cherish.” ARF hopes to use this service to encourage adoption instead of other avenues of acquiring a pet, and aims to adopt and deliver as many animals as possible over the holidays. Cheery volunteers will act as Santa’s helpers, delivering pets within a 20-mile radius of ARF’s


Walnut Creek headquarters. Adopters can expect to pay a $50 fee for delivery in addition to adoption fees, and go through ARF’s standard adoption process. View pets up for adoption at or visit Monday, Dec. 22 through Wednesday, Dec. 24, noon to 5 p.m.

Beanie and Sassy are ARF's adoption stars for December ing creature comforts in life. He currently weighs 56 pounds. The adoption fee for adult dogs is $225 and includes 50% off one 7-week dog training session.


5-year-old Beanie is an adorable gentleman who likes to snuggle and sit on your lap (he does not realize how big he is). Beanie is good with dogs of all sizes and loves food and toys so much that he will work to earn them — and will be a dream to train. We recommend Beanie take a Basic Manners class where he can learn polite ways of seek-

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6-year-old Sassy is a sweet lady who is a bit shy in new environments. She will enjoy soft petting and sweet talk! Sassy likes petting around her cute, chubby cheeks and will make a great companion. She is suitable for a first time cat guardian. Sassy must be an indoor only cat. Sassy’s adoption fee has been prepaid by a generous donor. Meet your forever friend at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, 2890 Mitchell Drive, Walnut Creek, during adoption hours: Noon to 6 pm Wednesday & Thursday, Noon to 7 pm Friday, and Noon to 6 pm Saturday & 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.


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tive problems. Bones can tear up your pets insides and onions can destroy a dog’s red blood cells. Chocolate, especially baking chocolate, can actually kill your dog so keep it well out of reach. Instead, indulge your dog with a few teaspoons of peanut butter in a Kong toy or give your cat with some healthy natural cat treats or a new catnip toy. Be sure all your guests understand the house rules about feeding table scraps to pets. Then there are decorations. Twinkling lights around the house mean extra cords and plugs which can look like tempting things to chew on for pets. Taping down or covering cords will help prevent shocks, burns and more serious injuries. Dangling tree ornaments can seem like great toys to both

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going and always be sure they are wearing current identification tags and their microchip information is up to date. Pets can get stressed with increased guests and the noise and activity they bring. Make sure your pet has a quiet place to go to escape the commotion. Remember that pets thrive on routine and increased activity and visitors in the home can upset that routine. Try to keep your pet on their regular schedule for feeding and exercise and be sure to give them plenty of love and attention this holiday season.

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Concord Pioneer •

December 19, 2014

Local couple honored with Jefferson Award JOHN JACKSON Correspondent

Concord residents Dave and Sheila Rowntree are being rewarded for their outstanding service to Boy Scouts and the special needs community with the prestigious San Francisco Bay Area Jefferson Award, which many recognize as America’s highest honor for public service. In short, the Jefferson Award is given to the unsung heroes of our communities who share their own talents and time without expecting anything in return. This would certainly describe the Rown-

trees, who have led a Boy Scout Troop for children with special needs. Although their own children had outgrown Boy Scouts several years earlier, Dave and Sheila got wind of a large void in the program and couldn’t help but do something about it. Their experience in scouting and desire to help kids drove them to form Troop 1994 nearly 21 years ago, a Boy Scout Troop specifically for children with special needs. “We have anywhere from nonverbal to extremely verbal,” says Dave. “We have some orthopedic challenges. I would say many of the youth are somewhere on the spectrum

Timeless classics make great gifts





The gift of a book is one of the most generous gestures ever made. Books are in themselves gifts of time and adventure, with the added bonus of becoming something entirely new with each reading. Maybe the best thing about giving a book, is it doesn’t have to be expensive – or even new –to carry great value. One December years ago when living on a very tight student’s budget, I went to the local used book store and came away carrying sacks of fiction that made for a very rich Christmas indeed. It almost goes without saying that I’ve never found a list of “best” books that I entirely agreed with. However, this is just a short list of eight, and a list of classics, at that. Like every classic, these are timeless. “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Beginning with what is quite possibly one of the best first sentences in the history of literature, Garcia Marquez spins a yarn of love, redemption, war, and magic. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” “The Sun Also Rises,” by Ernest Hemingway. The poetic lilt of Hemingway’s dialogue is some of the best ever written and makes me fall in love with words every. Single. Time. “Everyone behaves badly – if given a chance.” “The Diary of Adam and Eve,” by Mark Twain. One of Twains lesser known works is nonetheless an enchanting lesson in love. “How I wish I could make him understand that a loving good heart is riches enough and that without it intellect is poverty.” “Mrs. Dalloway,” by Virginia Woolf. Not an easy read but a dazzlingly brilliant classic. Woolf delivers this Valentine of book in stream-of-consciousness prose and begins with another amazing first line: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” by Flannery O’Connor. This is a collection of short stories that will scare the wits out of you as it nabs you by the collar and whips you around with a command of language that is both naked and forgiving. “She wouldn’t stay at home to be queen for a day.”

“The Bean Trees,” by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s actually difficult to choose just one Kingsolver novel as a stand-alone but if you must choose, this is a good start: a story about love, friendship, abandonment, putting down roots, and a girl named Turtle. “I had decided early on that if I couldn’t dress elegant, I’d dress memorable.” “Housekeeping,” by Marilyn Robinson. There is a haunting quality in Robinson’s work as she writes about the small details of ordinary life. Her examination of the glue that holds our worlds together is at once pointed and astonishing. “You never know when you will see someone for the last time.” “Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse,” by Louise Erdrich. If you have any tender sensibilities at all, this writer will pierce your heart. Erdrich’s sense of irony, poetry, and social justice mingle in a tale that is at once outrageous and plain in about a million ways. “To love another human in all of her splendor and imperfect perfection, it is a magnificent task. . .tremendous and foolish and human.” There you have it: a short list of classics. Enjoy the season, and happy reading! Cynthia Gregory is a North Bay nonprofit leader, writer of short fiction, and author of a blog. Email comments and questions to

for autism.” In troop 1994, boys with special needs find a warm place where they learn the skills that any Boy Scout would learn. More importantly, they receive the acceptance and friendship that seems to elude many of them who are misunderstood in social settings. “A lot of the young men in our troop really don’t have close friends in the traditional setting of school,” says Sheila. “When they come to the troop, they start to form a bond and a friendship that doesn’t often happen. They just find a home.” Dave says that most new Scouts in Troop 1994 arrive and almost immediately find companionship. “About 90 percent of the time when they walk through the door, they immediately are attracted to



“Petals in the Dust” looks at the practice of infanticide, where many people — most from the poorer regions — will find out the sex of their child, and abort girl fetuses because they are not seen as “valuable.” In fact, ultrasounds to determine the sex of a child are outlawed in the country, but the practice still exists.

another person who has a similar special need and they just attract like magnets.” At the troop, all types of special needs are welcome: autism, learning difficulties, Asperger’s syndrome and any

Elections, from page 1 the three council incumbents and city treasurer at the council’s Dec. 2 meeting. Grayson, Hoffmeister and Ron Leone were sworn in for another four years, as was incumbent city treasurer Tom Wentling. Hoffmeister was unanimously selected as vice mayor. Each “new” council member thanked their supporters for their help in their reelection. “I could think of no better partners in my reelection campaign

than my family,” said Grayson, pointing out wife Tammy and his two children in the audience. “We have a great opportunity this year as we move forward with plans for the Concord Naval Weapons Station,” he said. “Concord is going in an exciting direction.” Hoffmeister too thanked her parents for their support, and said that economic development and infrastructure maintenance would be her top priorities.

Pavilion, from page 1 to $187,542, so the city received a total of $987,542 — which will be put towards its bond debt retirement from the Pavilion’s 1986 expansion. Concord Parks and Recreation Director Joan Carrico, who oversees Pavilion operations on behalf of the city, called it “a really great year.” Carrico pointed to the variety of musical offerings from long-time Pavilion staples like classic rock and R&B concerts to additions of country, Latin and Christian music concerts. Part of the new contract with Live Nation called on the firm to invest $3.7 million in facility upgrades within the first three contract years. They did all that work (and a little more)

Filmmaker, from page 1 Caputi, who directed and coproduced, is wrapping up production of the film this month, and hopes to screen it at film festivals — such as the San Francisco International Film Festival and the Asian American Film Festival in San Francisco, among other showings — beginning early next year. Caputi says she is one of the lucky ones. Born in India, she says she was raised by “an enlightened father,” who favored both his son and daughter equally. “Even though I grew up in India, I didn’t realize the violence happening to girl babies as well as women in my home country,” she says.

SHEILA AND DAVE ROWNTREE, long-time Scouting supporters received the prestigious Jefferson Award for their work with Troop 1994, a Boy Scout troop for scouts with special needs.

The film explores the cultural origins of this vast genocidal crime and includes the voices of activists and gender experts; as well survivors who have struggled to build meaningful lives. During her research on the film, she discovered that the violence against females wasn’t just directed at female infants, but extended all the way into adulthood. The film also looks at the culture of rape, as well as “bride trafficking,” where young girls and women are kidnapped and sold to men — then “shared” among the male members of one family. She says that the social stigma of having girl babies has to change. “In the poorer regions, it is not seen as a bad thing to abort a girl baby or even kill the baby after it is born,’ she says. “That’s how deep-rooted the problem is.” She blames a lack of education on the part of the poorer residents, as well as the lack of knowledge about the positive impact of modern adoption. “Many people would rather kill their daughters than ‘risk’ them being raised in a home that

during 2014. Pavilion General Manager Aaron Hawkins says his firm spent that money for changes that impacted both Pavilion attendees and artists and should pay dividends for years to come. The most dramatic change was the removal of all the permanent seats in the inner circle directly in front of the Pavilion stage. They were taken out to facilitate flexible seating arrangements, including having a general admission pit for some shows, which certain artists prefer. The format allows for nearly 500 additional tickets to be sold for those events. For the majority of concerts, comfortable portable reserved seats fill the inner circle area.

may not have the same cultural or religious beliefs as they have,” she says. She says that there is violence against girls at every stage of their lives, including gang rapes and abuse that goes unreported — and that happens in all classes of society. “If a woman can’t produce an acceptable dowry, it is okay to abuse her, and in some instances, even kill her so that the husband can marry someone else.” LOCAL HELP Caputi, who holds a masters degree in biotechnology, left her job in Mumbai and moved to the U.S. 12 years ago to begin a career in filmmaking at the New York Film Academy. It was there she met her husband and the film’s co-producer and director of photographer, director Gino Caputi, a San Francisco native who has made a name for himself working on many Hollywood films such as “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “Bee Season” and “War of The Worlds,” among others. They live in Concord with their two sons. In fact, it was talk of the film on a local website that helped her gain partners in its produc-

other troubles that would make life a little more challenging for a child. “This is a really loving and caring troop,” says recent 16year-old Eagle Scout Joshua Hughes. “I feel like I’m with

people that I can trust.” Sheila says that that comment from Joshua means a lot. “The parents are seeing that their kids are successful and feeling good about themselves.” Dave is clear to emphasize that families are encouraged to give the troop a try, even if just to gauge interest. “I often receive calls from folks who aren’t sure if they will fit it, but they have a son who may be interested in Scouts. I always say, ‘Why don’t you just bring him and we’ll see what happens.’ Then most of the time, they start appreciating the Scout program and they stay around a while.” For more information on Troop 1994, e-mail Dave Rowntree at

“You really can’t have one without the other,” she said. Leone agreed that economic development was a cornerstone of Concord’s success. Wentling accepted his job by saying that after this term is over, he will have spent 37 years in service to the community, including as a past city council member. After the pomp and ceremony of the swearing in, Hoffmeister surprised Grayson with her “bag of tricks,” which included tree ornaments marking some of the mayor’s

achievements, some meaningful — like a small serviceman marking the city’s Welcome Home program for returning veterans — to a more sporty toy police car marking the return of School Resource Officers to Concord high schools, a joint project between the city and the Mount Diablo unified School District. Perhaps the best ornament was a large “Q2” that signified the extension of the city’s Measure Q half-cent sales tax, which voters overwhelmingly supported in November.

Most of the capital improvements were completed in a condensed period before the season except for the re-designed entrance area around the box office. That work has been ongoing since the end of the season and is slated to be completed shortly. “The artists have been extremely happy,” Hawkins said. Not only was the flexible seating a hit but improvements to the dressing rooms and the eating and rest areas for artists’ staff and crew all met with thumbs up. Five of the 18 concerts were near or total sellouts. Trying to carry on the momentum of this season’s successes, Live Nation has announced three shows for the new year. Tickets for Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga (May 28), the

Australian boy band 5 Seconds of Summer (July 21) and “Frozen” and Broadway star Idina Menzel (Aug. 7) are already on sale. Carrico says two parts of the new contract still need to be implemented. A five-person community advisory committee has yet to be been formed. Hawkins will serve on the committee along with four Concord residents who will be selected early next year. Carrico envisions the group becoming “evangelists” for the Pavilion, helping attract more community events to the venue. During contract negotiations Live Nation suggested developing an educational outreach program. Carrico says the city and promoter have yet to start this. “I would like to see some daytime performances where school children come on a field trip to enjoy a live performance.”

tion. A Walnut Creek woman heard about “Petals in the Dust,” and offered to help out with the film’s editing. A Concord woman contributed the artwork on the film’s poster. Caputi was also assisted on the film by executive producer Mohamed Hamir, a retired financier who was born and raised in Tanzania. He and his family are of Indian origin, and is a member of the Advisory Board of PRATHAM Los Angeles, the largest educational non-profit involved in child education in India. “He and my father are two of the enlightened Indian men who value women in Indian society,” Caputi says. “I couldn’t have done the film without him and his and my husband’s support.” MEN MORE AFFECTED She says of the people who have seen the film — and even the trailer on its website — men seem to be more affected by it than women. It’s important to talk about gender equality in every country earlier than those discussions usually arise, says Caputi. “It should begin around middle school. Young men should

know that gender inequality happens in every country, among every class level. Enforcing laws isn’t changing the way men think — it has to be a cultural change.” She points to the recent slew of domestic violence cases in U.S. sports as an example. She says that although she was depressed while traveling through India while researching the film — “I’m very patriotic and it was hard to see and hear some of the victims’ stories — she was inspired by the way many of the survivors featured in the film stood up to talk about their experiences. “They are courageous,” she says. “They are the true heroes.” Caputi says that bringing this issue out into the open, she hopes to “light the spark of resistance to this culture of gender violence and extermination,” mobilize the Indian and international communities into getting involved in ending this “gendercide” and to encourage a new generation of Indian citizens to value and respect their daughters, wives and the women in the community. For more information and to see a trailer of “Petals in the Dust,” visit

December 19, 2014

Concord Pioneer •

Page 15

Port Chicago’s history etched into Concord CAROL LONGSHORE

OLD NEWS The following story is about what happens to a small town that is effected by a big war… Pearl Harbor was bombed Dec. 7, 1941, Dec. 8, l941, the U.S. declared war on Japan and on Dec. 11 of the same year war was declared on Germany and Italy. It was very traumatic for Concord and Port Chicago, a little neighboring town with a shipping port. The shipping port in Port Chicago became a loading dock for oil, gasoline and chemicals along with other wartime supplies produced in the area. The Naval Ammunition Depot on Muir Island expanded and Port Chicago became the Naval Magazine extension on Dec.4, 1942. It was the Navy’s only wartime ammunition ship-

ping point on the West Coast. The Depot employed 1,796 civilians and 2,200 military personnel. As the government continued to expand the Naval Magazine by buying the farmland around it, the landowners were considered unpatriotic if they complained about the value they were getting from a Chicago land company for their farms. It was a sad time for Concord. On the night of July 17, l944 at 10:17 p.m., to be exact, the towns were startled by a sudden and violent lurch. The townspeople witnessed brilliant flashes in the sky filling it with red and white light. The Port Chicago Theater was showing Alan Ladd’s movie “China” and right as the Japanese were throwing hand grenades the explosion went off. A Port Costa resident was at the theater that night and was thrown from her seat and hit on the head by the falling ceiling. The wall collapsed and you could see through the wall opening a brilliant display of fireworks. Shrapnel was falling all over the

town of Port Chicago. The closed windows in houses and businesses of Concord residents had shattered, chimneys rolled down roofs, young Navy men were running down the road with terror in their eyes, a young Pacheco boy was kissing his girlfriend good night and thought her father was coming after him with a shot gun when he heard the blast. Two ammunition ships at the Port had blown up while explosives were being transferred from rail cars to the piers to the ships. Three hundred and twenty military personnel were killed and 390 military personnel and civilians were injured. Reconstruction began immediately and by April 1, l945, six new berths at three new piers were in operation. The war ended and on Jan. 18, l946 it was established as an independent command as the people of Port Chicago healed and rebuilt. On Dec. 23, 1957, it was designated as the United States Naval Ammunition Depot. The next change would

come in June 18, l962, when it became the United States Naval Weapons Station under the Bureau of Naval Weapons. Then again, on May 1, l966, the Bureau was taken over by the Naval Sea Systems Command and changed to simply the Naval Weapons Station. As you have heard the Station is now closed and the City of Concord is negotiating with the Navy for the development of the land. If you recall, we went through this once before as a community, when Michael Chavez was on the city council. We spent many, many hours and weekends and money on deciding the Plan. It was approved by everyone, as you remember, to only have the Navy pull the rug out from under our feet and cancel the whole thing. So we start again. Maybe the farmers that were chased out can come back? Carol Longshore has been a Concord resident since 1950. She is a community leader and current president of the Concord Historical Society. Send comments and suggestions for future topics to

Are you ready for some meatballs? Most of us learned at an early age that when someone called you a meatball, it wasn’t necessarily a compliment. Culinary-wise a “no respect” designation pretty much sums up what this round object has been given by American society. Still, it is an integral part of our cuisine. In local restaurants meatballs can be found on most menus in some form. They all utilize different types of meat, spices, breading, size, etc. Generally they are served with some kind of a sauce and starch to accompany them. Locally, there are many versions of meatballs available for hungry diners. One of the best can be found at Bambino’s. Located in a small strip mall at the corner of Willow Pass and Farm Bureau Road in Concord, this eating establishment puts emphasis on “home made.” Everything is freshly prepared on the premises. Bambino’s co-owner Ismael Palacio has worked in restaurants since he was a teenager growing up in the Mission district of San Francisco. Having put in his time in all phases of the business, Palacio took over the location of the former Aladino’s Pizza seven years ago. He has succeeded with word-ofmouth advertising to bring clientele to this establishment rather than relying on traditional marketing techniques normally employed by similar businesses. The meatballs at Bambino’s reflect his commitment to home-made. Twice a week utilizing ground beef with a 75/25 fat ratio, they make up 20 lb. batches. Italian sausage, red

RICHARD EBER & WHITNEY FLORES TASTE AND TELL onions, parsley, garlic and parmesan cheese are the main ingredients in their recipe. After these items are mixed, they are hand rolled into their final large golf ball-sized shape and recoated with a layer of bread crumbs. Cooked in a convection oven at 350, the rest is history. At Tower Grill located on the Square at Todos Santos, their meatballs are much different yet are able to impart a favorable culinary experience which has made this restaurant a popular dining destination in Concord’s downtown area. Owner Gordon Clarke has a philosophy of making a limited number of dishes from fresh ingredients, stressing quality over a chain restaurant menu featuring 10 different varieties of chicken breast. His meatball recipe, which features Angus beef, fresh pork, garlic, two varieties of cheese, bread crumbs, eggs, and assorted spices, is a compilation from several chefs he has worked with over the years. It is by far the most complicated of those we tasted.

One major characteristic of the Tower Grill’s final product is the juiciness of the meat balls and the ability of those eating this dish to be able to distinguish between the different flavors of the ingredients, which also include pine nuts. This dining experience is enhanced especially on their meatball sandwiches where a side of high quality marinara sauce is served. In the future he intends to make new versions using different meats including lamb to offer their clientele. Judging from the popularity of Tower Grill’s famous sliders often donated to community fund raisers, Clarke’s next generation of meat balls is an event to look forward to. Sorrento’s is a restaurant that seems to have been around forever. Established in 1975, it is tucked away next to the Genova Delicatessen on Bancroft and Treat in Walnut Creek. Being known for its high-quality pizza, Sorrento’s offers a full service menu, of which its meatballs comprise a major component. Manager Paolo Caturegli, whose family has owned the restaurant for a generation, told us of the unique ways they prepare their impressive baseballsized meatballs. To start, Caturegli emphasized that all of their bread products, including their delicious focaccia, is made on site each day. They use these breads as a staple ingredient in their meat balls, which are also used in various other dishes the restaurant prepares such as their cannelloni and lasagna. Sorrento’s also utilizes a

combination of three different meats (beef, veal and pork), all of which are freshly ground each day on the premises. Fresh herbs and various spices round out their recipe, which Caturegli says originated in Northern Italy where his family immigrated from. The attention to detail and quality, along with the authenticity of their end products, are what makes Sorrento’s, Bambino’s, and Tower Grill, nominees for the local Meatball Hall of Fame. Here is one of Whitney’s favorite meat ball recipes for you to try at home: Mix: 1 lb. ground beef 1 lb. ground Italian pork sausage 1 cup dry bread crumbs ½ cup grated parmesan 1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley 2 gloves fresh garlic, minced ½ cup milk 2 eggs Salt and pepper to taste Form meat mixture into 1.52-inch balls. Line bottom of a large frying pan with a thin layer of oil or butter and pan fry meat balls with 1 cup of minced onions. Once cooked through, blend in 2 Tbsp. flour. Add your favorite homemade marinara sauce and let simmer for about one hour. Serve over angel hair pasta with a slice of warm garlic bread. Rich Eber is a local columnist for the blog Halfway to Concord and a selfdescribed “foodie.” He teams up with daughter, Whitney, a student, avid cook and taster and mother. Email comments to

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Concord Pioneer •

December 19, 2014

SPORTS Spartans, Eagles go for football glory Saturday JAY BEDECARRÉ Concord Pioneer

Charter bus services in Contra Costa are in high demand this weekend as three county high school football teams—De La Salle, Clayton Valley Charter and Campolindo—-are headed to Carson in Southern California for CIF state bowl games. This Saturday, CVCHS will be making its first-ever appear-

JUNIOR JAKE PERALTA’S (32) secure wrap up of an Oakdale receiver is demonstrative of Clayton Valley Charter’s defense in the Northern California Regional game last Saturday at Gonsalves Stadium. Peralta and his defensive mates held four of their five playoff opponents to one touchdown or less as the Eagles gained their first-ever state bowl game berth.

ance in this lofty territory when the Eagles (15-0) meet Redlands East Valley of Redlands (14-1) at 4 p.m. in the Division II finals at StubHub Center. Following that game De La Salle (13-0) will be in its ninth consecutive state bowl game against a familiar foe, Centennial (12-2) of Corona, at 8 o’clock. It’s the fourth time the Spartans have faced Centennial since 2007. It’s downright improbable for two of the 10 teams in state bowls to come from Concord and three overall from Contra Costa. Campo (15-0) plays El Capitan (14-0) of Lakeside to start Saturday’s tripleheader at noon. All three games will be telecast live by Comcast SportsNet. Both Clayton Valley Charter coach Tim Murphy and his DLS counterpart Justin Alumbaugh targeted the state bowl game as their team’s goal since the season began. De La Salle has been to every CIF bowl game since the state championships resumed in 2006, so this is nothing new for the Spartans. Campolindo also played in the 2011 state finals. Clayton Valley won its first-ever North Coast Section football title in 2012, Murphy’s initial year in charge of the Eagles, but was eliminated in the inaugural Northern California regional bowl game by Oakdale. Last Saturday, before 4000 fans at expanded Gonsalves Stadium, Clayton Valley Charter overcame a slow offensive start to run up a 28-point lead and won 28-7 over Oakdale, turning the tables on the Mustangs (13-

Jason Rogers photos

CLAYTON VALLEY CHARTER’S OFFENSE HAS RELIED ON RUNNINGBACK MILES HARRISON (3) to carry the majority of the load and the senior hasn’t disappointed. He ran for 238 yards and three touchdowns in the Northern California Regional win over Oakdale 28-7 last Friday. All-DVAL tackle Joe Levine (54) is one of the linemen clearing holes for Harrison and making the wing-gun offense of coach Tim Murphy go..

2) to earn the Concord school its first state bowl berth. School officials on the field Saturday night said they had reserved buses to take the varsity football team, coaches, trainers, cheer squad and band to Southern California for this historic event. About 200 people directly connected to the team will be bussing down I-5 for the game.

Sarah Nelson national player of the week for Dominican ST. LOUIS, MO. – Sarah Nelson of Dominican University of California was named the inaugural U.S. Basketball Writers Association Women’s Division II National Player of the Week for the week ending Dec. 7. This is the first season the USBWA will recognize national players of the week from Division II. Nelson, a 6-4 senior center from Clayton Valley High School, led Dominican to its best Division II start in school history with two wins by averaging 20.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and nine blocks per game. Nelson’s efforts also earned her Pacific West Conference Player of the Week laurels. In an 85-60 home win over Notre Dame de Namur, Nelson recorded 22 points, a career-high 17 rebounds and eight blocked shots. She then reached that elusive triple-double with 19 points, 13 rebounds and a school-record 10 blocked shots in a 66-63 road win at Holy Names. Nelson leads the PacWest Conference and NCAA DII with 5.5 blocks per game. Dominican is 4-3 overall and matched its best start in PacWest play at 2-0. As a senior at Clayton Valley Nelson helped the Eagles to the North Coast Section Division II championship game and a berth in the Northern California tournament for the first time since 1998. She averaged nine points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.4 blocked shots per game her

Once again it was runningback Miles Harrison who led the Eagles with 238 yards rushing and the first three touchdowns for the winners. Clayton Valley didn’t attempt a pass until the fourth quarter. The Eagles defense has risen up in the past three weeks to hold powerful Casa Grande, Concord and Oakdale to 16 points total. In its five playoff games CVCHS outscored its foes by 202 points. Their opponent, Redlands East Valley, won its first Southern Section title this year and beat Ridgeview of Bakersfield 59-42 for the Southern California DII regional title. Its last three section games were all decided by six points or less. De La Salle has won two of three matchups with Centennial in state bowl games. The Spartans have rolled over their 13 opponents this fall while posting five shutouts and winning by an average of 41 points a game. The team has overcome several injuries that even forced tight end Devin Asiasi to quarterback the team to a playoff win after the top two Spartan QBs were both injured. The junior RB duo of Andrew Hernandez and Antoine Custer has each run for over 1600 yards from scrim-

mage and scored over 300 points between them. Their opponent Centennial, a public school, has defeated four private schools to come through the Southland and earn the Open Division berth against DLS. They lost their season opener to Mater Dei of Santa Ana and later fell 43-42 to Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, the No. 1 team in the nation.

Clayton Valley Charter to appeal added year of NCS probation North Coast Section Commissioner Gil Lemmon issued a four-page letter to CVCHS after the NCS eligibility committee met concerning the denied transfers of three players to Clayton Valley Charter for the 2014-15 school year. The school had earlier been placed on one-year probation for all sports after the football team was adjudged to have practiced outside the allowed time period last June. Six football players applied for NCS waivers after transferring to Clayton Valley Charter and three of them were denied, having been ruled that the transfers violated “CIF and NCS rules, regulations or processes.” Lemmon enumerated a number of issues surrounding the transfers involving contact with player’s families and paperwork mistakes. School officials said they will be appealing the additional probation period that runs through the end of the 2016 spring season. - Jay Bedecarre


Photo courtesy Dominican University

Senior Sarah Nelson (11), a Clayton Valley High grad, made a little history earlier this month when she was named the firstever NCAA Division II women’s basketball national player of the week for her Dominican College Penguins by the USBWA. She leads the PacWest and the nation with 5.5 blocks per game. Nelson was named PacWest Defender of the Week earlier in the season.

senior year, which included a 20-game winning streak and the Diablo Valley Athletic League championship. Each Tuesday, the USBWA is selecting men’s and women’s Division II National Players of the Week. This is the first season that the USBWA will recognize national players of the

week from Division II. The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of thenNCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball.

Celebrating its 60th year providing youth baseball to the Concord community, Concord American Little League is holding in-person registration on Thursday, Jan. 8, from 5-8 p.m. at Westwood Elementary, 1748 West St. Boys and girls from 414 within the league boundaries can register. Online registration is open through Jan. 9 at Tryouts begin Jan. 10.


Diablo FC is now taking registration for its 14th annual Winter Soccer Academy held on Mondays and Thursdays at Willow Pass Park in Concord from Jan. 5 – Feb. 19. The program is part of the San Jose Earthquakes Regional Development

Centennial has offense to spare but five times has allowed opponents over 40 points. The Huskies are used to playing close games as they won their playoff games by 4, 3, 1 and 7 points including a revenge win over Mater Dei and an upset of St. John Bosco in the section finals. De La Salle, on the other hand, has won every game by three touchdowns or more.

School and is open to boys and girls of all skill levels ages 5-11. Players receive an Earthquakes Academy t-shirt. For more information and to register visit

CV HOLIDAY YOUTH BASEBALL CLINIC DEC . 22-23 Clayton Valley Charter High School baseball coaching staff and players are offering a holiday baseball clinic Dec. 22-23. The program focuses on the skills necessary to be a successful player including batting, fielding, pitching, throwing, catch play and speed/agility drills each day. Sessions are held from 9 a.m. – 12 noon at the Clayton Valley Varsity Baseball Facility for boys and girls ages 5–14. Contact Eagles head coach Casey Coakley at with questions or to register.


Winter youth volleyball signups are open for the season that runs on Saturdays from Jan. 3-Feb. 21. Spring leagues for youth basketball, tee ball and adult softball are now open. For complete information on All Out Sports programs, visit

CONTINENTAL LITTLE LEAGUE SIGNUPS OPEN Continental Little League, which encompasses parts of Concord and Walnut Creek, is open for online registration for the 2015 season. CLL is for boys and girls from four to 17 and starts with an ages 4-5 peanuts program. Visit for complete information.

See Sports Shorts, pg 17

December 19, 2014

Concord Pioneer •

Section playoffs. He also plays club rugby for Danville Oaks and is a member of the leadership program at Concord as rally commissioner. Leadership teacher Leah Darby says, “He is in charge of school spirit and people certainly love and adore him. I have wanted him to join leadership since he was a freshman since I knew he was a natural leader.”

Athlete Spotlight

The Concord Pioneer congratulates Robert and thanks Athlete Spotlight sponsors Dr. Laura Lacey & Dr. Christopher Ruzicka who have been serving the Clayton and Concord area for 25 years at Family Vision Care Optometry. Visit their website at

Robert Liu Class: Senior School: Concord High Sport: Football His coach Brian Hamilton says that senior lineman Robert Liu has been a “mainstay” of the Concord High football program for three years. “It’s a tough job for a sophomore to start every game but Robert did.” The 6-0, 260-pound lineman

gained 35 pounds since that sophomore season and the two-way lineman was firstteam all-Diablo Valley Athletic League as a junior and senior. Liu and his teammates were 12-2 this season making it to the championship game of the North Coast

Do you know a young athlete who should be recognized? Perhaps he or she has shown exceptional sportsmanship, remarkable improvement or great heart for the sport. Send your nomination for the Pioneer Athlete Spotlight today to

Minuteman, Eagles get DVAL football Most Valuable Player recognition JAY BEDECARRÉ Concord Pioneer

Clayton Valley Charter High School football players Jax Carter and Miles Harrison and runningback Malik Blackburn of Concord were recognized for their outstanding football seasons as most valuable players by Diablo Valley Athletic League coaches. Harrison was tabbed DVAL MVP during his undefeated senior year while the Eagles won their third successive league title. He was first-team all-DVAL as a junior runningback and rushed for over 4000 yards over two seasons. “Miles is one of the best running backs in the state. He has that rare combination of speed, vision and power...and just as important as all of those, he takes care of the ball.” His coach Tim Murphy continues, “He is a great kid and I’m going to miss coaching him.” Murphy says of Carter, “Jax is an outstanding all-around player. He was linemen of the year last year in our league and this year he is the defensive player of the year for his play at linebacker and defensive line. But his best position may actually be fullback. He is one of the best blockers and hard running FBs I have ever had. He is actually being recruited [by colleges] more as a fullback/h-back. Bottom line is the kid is a flat out good football player.” Blackburn is a “dynamic player who comes out of the

Jason Rogers photos

Runningback Malik Blackburn (3) is the 2014 DVAL offensive MVP after accounting for over 2500 yards of offense for the Concord High Minutemen. Blackburn averaged nearly three touchdowns a game while also playing defense as his team went all the way to the North Coast Section championship game. Alex Vargas (58) blocks for Blackburn in the NCS finals against Clayton Valley Charter.

backfield and is elusive in open space,” says Concord head coach Brian Hamilton. The DVAL offensive MVP was part of the Minutemen’s threeheaded offensive monster along with quarterback Mitch Daniels and wide receiver Mason Knight. Blackburn scored 36 touchdowns in 13 games and gained over 2500 yards in offense. Daniels and Knight were both first-team all-DVAL choices for the second year in a row. Blackburn and Knight both play both ways for Concord, which finished the season with a 12-2 record and reached the North Coast Section championship game for

the third time in the past five years. First team offense— Daniels, Knight, Robert Liu, Nolan Breckle, David Valenzuela (Concord), Shimon Rosenblatt, Joe Levine, Chandler Wakefield (CVC), Floyd Armenta, Mason Mitchell (NG), David Jones, Jordan Martinez (CP), Jesse Guzman (YV). First team defense—Charlie Alofaki, Davail Jenkins (MD), Jake Peralta, Daniel Ferrell, Rich Peralta, Sean Vaisima (CVC), Mike Ihejeto (NG), Jose Rivera, Josh Weins (Concord), Alex Stevenson, Thomas Garcia, Andrew Sabet(CP).

Second team offense— Harrison Boyle, Justin Zapanta, Brandon Estrada, Nate Keisel (CVC), Yvon Emalea, Jonathan North (CP), Jonathan Krucker (NG), Diego Lopez (YV), Asante Moore (MD), Alex Vargas, Jed Gwynn (Concord). Second team defense— Christian Bates, Rembert Sisson, Paco Orepeza, Demaria Capers (Concord), Omar Wahba, David Jones, Justin Aranzamendez (CP), Drew Crabbe, Lucas Ostalaza, Elijah Breon, Ryan Cooper (CVC), Jackson Smith, Nick Makrakis (NG), Taveon Moore (MD).

Page 17

Warriors sizzling to start the season

TYLER LEHMAN SPORTS TALK The Golden State Warriors are off to the greatest start in franchise history, finding themselves among the elite teams in the NBA while setting numerous team records. It is no small task to be competitive in the Western Conference, playing against teams like the Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets and Clippers, let alone the Thunder once they are fully healthy. The Warriors’ new coaching staff so far has been giving the team the extra push towards greatness that it seemed to be lacking last year. Steve Kerr, who signed a five-year, $25 million contract this year to become the Warriors head coach, has shown himself to be up to the task of being an everyday coach during the early part of the schedule. There were some question marks about Kerr coming into this season. He is a first-time coach and, although he was a long-time player and then television analyst, not all NBA players become great NBA coaches. Kerr has answered those questions so far, with improved defense and offense being shown by the Warriors early on. A huge problem for the Warriors last year on offense was ball movement. The offense would tend to stagnate into oneon-one basketball with virtually no ball movement between the players. This year the ball has been moving for the Warriors, giving Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson easy, open shots. It is great to see the team

DIABLO FC BENEFIT CRAB FEED FEB. 6 AT CENTRE CONCORD The 12th annual Diablo FC benefit crab feed and raffle is set for Friday, Feb. 6, at Centre Concord. Tickets are now on sale for the event that benefits programs for the local competitive youth soccer club affiliated with the San Jose Earthquakes. For the second year they are also having a Super Raffle in conjunction with the crab feed featuring a four-day shopping trip to New York City as the grand prize. Visit for more details and to purchase crab feed and raffle tickets.


Registration for Clayton Valley Little League is now open for the spring 2015 season.

Baseball programs for players ages four to 14 and softball for girls four to 14 are both open for registration. The CVLL program began in 1964 and includes a Challenger Division for players with physical and mental special needs. Players must reside within the CVLL boundaries. Go to for complete information and to register.

DIABLO FC U9-U12 COMPETITIVE SOCCER TRYOUTS BEGIN JAN. 18 Diablo FC tryouts for the 2015 season for under 9 through under 11 boys and girls competitive teams are Jan. 18, 22 and 25 in Concord. Tryouts for U12 girls and boys are Jan. 31 and Feb. 4 and 8. Older tryouts for U13-14 players will be held Feb. 15, 18 and 21. There is no charge to try out and players can

Tyler Lehman is a junior at San Francisco State University and a 2012 CVHS graduate. He is majoring in print/online journalism and wants to be a sports writer. Email your comments or questions to

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Sports Shorts, from page 16

play with a crisper, more threatening offense, but there is still room for improvement. The Warriors still have some things to address before they can seriously consider making a run at the title this year. The Achilles heel of the Warriors has been turnovers. It is hard to win basketball games when you turn the ball over 20 times a game and once the team began trimming that number they went on a winning streak. Turnovers are something that will be constantly addressed as the year goes on and certainly Kerr and his excellent staff are working hard to make the Warriors players more conscientious about their ball handling. The Warriors decided to start Harrison Barnes at small forward over veteran Andre Iguodala, who has been a starter his whole career. Iguodala seemed to have a hard time adjusting to coming off the bench during the early schedule. In a perfect world Iguodala would be the leader of the Warriors second unit. He has never been an immense scoring threat in his career but he needs to be more aggressive on offense. Too many times he wants to be unselfish and facilitate the ball when he should just be taking his open shots. The Warriors weathered the injury to all-star David Lee, partially due to the great bench play of Mo Speights who helped Andrew Bogut hold down the middle. Overall the Warriors are looking great to start the season, capped by a franchise record 15game winning streak. The team is definitely better than it was last year and if they can shore up a few issues, the sky is the limit for the Warriors.


pre-register today at For more information on the club and tryouts contact director of coaching Brian Voltattorni at


First conceived in 1974, the long-awaited Northgate High School aquatics complex and sports medicine center are now under construction. Primarily funded by MDUSD Measure C, the $8.1 million center is on schedule to be completed this winter. It will include a 40-meter x 25-yard, 16-lane pool with a dedicated sports medicine training facility and classroom. The Northgate Community Pride Foundation is currently raising the balance needed to complete the project in time for the spring swim season. To get more information and to donate visit

Who can play: Every child 4-14 who resides or attends school within our legal boundaries

Page 18

Concord Pioneer •

December 19, 2014

CVCHS defeats archrival to take NCS football crown JAY BEDECARRÉ Concord Pioneer

The Concord High and Clayton Valley Charter football teams have established themselves among the elite of North Coast Section Division II football programs in recent years and have engaged in some thrilling games that have determined Diablo Valley Athletic League championships. The two schools are about three miles apart and the rivalry

burns bright. Clayton Valley has won four league championships and Concord two since the DVAL was re-established in 2008. After 2009, 2012 and this fall’s regular season the teams also met in the Section playoffs but those games were each decided by at least 20 points, unlike the league games the past two years. Coach Tim Murphy’s Eagles used a stunning defensive display to defeat Concord 33-6 in the NCS finals two weeks ago at packed, rain-drenched Diablo

Junior quarterback Nate Keisel (11) has been the field general for the undefeated, high-powered Clayton Valley Charter High football team this fall. He has rushed and passed for nearly 1500 yards combined while throwing 19 touchdown passes on only 92 pass attempts. Concord’s Donald Hollars (4) tried to corral the Ugly Eagles QB during last Friday’s NCS championship game at Diablo Valley College.

Valley College. It was the 14th straight win for CVCHS as they continued to rack up school records and remained among the nation’s top high school offenses with over 7400 total years this season. The Concord-Clayton Valley NCS finale was unlike the last two high-scoring matchups (49-48 last year and 48-40 in October) between the intra-city rivals that was each decided on the game’s final play with the Eagles defense holding off the Minutemen from scoring a winning or tying touchdown. Brian Hamilton’s Concord team has been to three NCS title games in the past five years including a 2010 championship. The Eagles won the 2012 Section title, ending a run of three failed Section finals efforts over the years for CVCHS. The 2014 title was Murphy’s fifth section championship spread over three schools since 1999. League MVP Miles Harrison carried the load for the Eagles offense, rushing for 287 yards and three touchdowns against Concord. CV raced out to a 27-point lead before Concord was able to score just before halftime. Harrison has run for 2140 yards from scrimmage leading the Eagles’ double-wing offense to 81 rushing TDs in 14 games. It was the CVCHS defense

that stifled the three-pronged Minuteman offense in the NCS finals. Concord quarterback Mitch Daniels threw the 109th and final TD pass of his prep career to DVAL offensive MVP Malik Blackburn in the NCS title game. It was Blackburn’s 36th touchdown of the year. For the most part the Ugly Eagles defense throttled high-scoring Concord. A disappointed Hamilton said his team came into the season with “high expectations to win NCS. We had a more explosive offense [than the 2010 and 2011 NCS finalists] and we’re proud of the 12 wins but disappointed in the final outcome.” The two teams accounted for 14 of the 25 first-team all-league players as well as the three DVAL football MVPs. CROSS COUNTRY DVAL champion Parker Burr took eighth at the NCS cross country Division III championships to qualify as an individual for the CIF State Meet. The Concord High seniority Volleyball player became the first Minuteman runner to qualify for the State Meet twice. At the end of November he improved his time from last year by 30 seconds and 20 places, getting 66th with a time of 16:22 (5:17 mile pace) in Fresno. De La Salle dominated the DI Section finals with Matt Schumann taking first, Austin Sanchez second and Roc Johnson fourth at NCS for the Spartans. DLS finished 10th at State with Schumann again leading his teammates with a 16th place finish. Junior Sayed Opeyany was the leading boys runner for Clayton Valley as the Eagles took 13th, one spot ahead of Northgate. Laurence Seabrook took 23rd as the top Bronco runner. College Park was fifth. Keeley Murphy led Carondelet to a fifth place NCS Division II girls placing. Northgate was one spot behind as Megan Coyle (8th) and Jessie Boucher (16th) led the Broncos. CVCHS freshman Kelly Osterkamp paced the Eagles to eighth place in the Division II finals. She was 28th overall and the seventh frosh. Lindsay Mondloch was the next CV finisher and the only senior among the seven Eagle runners. College Park was fourth at NCS. WATER POLO Northgate’s boys (25-3) lost the DII NCS finals to top-seed Redwood 13-7 after winnings the opening two matches. De La Salle lost in the second round to eventual boys champion Miramonte in DI. Carondelet, Concord and Northgate were all ousted in the opening round of the girls DII tourney as was Clayton Valley Charter in DI.

Jason Rogers photos

All-DVAL quarterback Mitch Daniels (10) was scrambling much of the evening at the NCS finals while being chased by CVCHS defenders. Daniels was a two-time all-league quarterback and threw for nearly 8400 yards and 109 TD passes as a three-year starter. The Minutemen won 30 games over those three seasons including a 12-2 mark this fall.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL DVAL champs Northgate were a losing semi-finalist to Maria Carrillo in five sets. Carondelet lost in the second round to eventual champ Redwood. Clayton Valley Charter lost its NCS opening match to Las Lomas. GIRLS GOLF Carondelet was fourth at the NCS Tournament of Champions just missing by one stroke from advancing as a team to the

NorCal tournament. Angela Bagasbas was low scorer and qualified for the NorCal tournament as an individual. Annika Borrelli, Sabby Virtusio and Kelly Ransom helped the Cougars to their high finish. Northgate was led by Oymphna Ueda with a 78 that also earned her a NorCal berth. DVAL runner-up CVCHS advanced to the TOC where Rachel DeLong shot 87 for the low Eagles score to conclude her high school career.

Ricky Lloyd leads his college past Concord!

Photo courtesy Minnesota State Athletics

Former Concord High School quarterback Ricky Lloyd (8) transferred to Minnesota State this year and has helped the undefeated Mavericks (14-0) to the NCAA Division II championship game in Kansas City this Saturday where they meet Colorado State-Pueblo (13-1). Ironically Lloyd’s four touchdown passes led his team over Concord University of West Virginia last weekend in the semi-finals. Lloyd spent three years at Southern Mississippi after taking Concord High to the 2010 North Coast Section championship while topping all California preps in passing yards and completions.

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Concord Pioneer •

Page 19

Brighten winter with colorful Camellias


well. Be careful and don’t use more fertilizer than recommended. Starting in March, begin feeding your Camellias with an acid fertilizer, and always follow the package instructions. Sasanqua Camellia shrubs make great additions when planted along a fence line or against a blank wall of house trained as an espalier. Shop for a Sasanqua Camellia while in bloom, that way you can find the selections of this type of Camellia that are fragrant.


GARDEN GIRL Concord’s Sasanqua Camellias are in full blossom. Their pink, red and white flowers can be seen bursting into bloom all around town. Sasanqua Camellias are evergreen shrubs that have a lovely, seasonal flower display. They have dark green, medium-sized leaves and flowers of many different petal counts. Depending on the selection, your Sasanqua Camellia may have a single flower style, like the popular Yuletide variety, semi double flowers like the Cleopatra, or a full-peony style flower like the ones found on the White Dove variety. Sasanqua Camellias are very easy to grow. They are one of the most sun tolerant, shadeloving shrubs available. Sasanqua Camellias can thrive in full morning sun, or half a day of afternoon sun exposure, even during our Concord summers. Occasionally, you may even spot a Sasanqua Camellia planted in full summer sun, although I wouldn’t recommend you planting one in full sun on purpose. Take care when planting any Camellia. Aggressively work the roots loose. Soak the Camellia in water if you have to. You would like the plant’s roots to look like they were never in a pot. Lots of folks make mistakes when installing plants by not spreading out the plant’s root properly. You won’t hurt your plants, rather you’ll do more harm to

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Concord Pioneer •


Happy Holidays from

Celebrate the holidays with cheer, laughs

Helping Members Live Successfully in Their Own Homes. Join us! Donate! Get involved! Help us build our infrastructure, so we can launch our programs & services to serve the Clayton/Southern Concord community in the coming year. Clayton Valley Village is a non-profit volunteer organization. All donations are tax deductible.

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December 19, 2014

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The holidays are always a very busy time of the year. Regardless of whether you celebrate Hanukkah (Dec. 16-24), Christmas (Dec. 25) or Kwanzaa (Dec. 26 – Jan. 1), there is always too much to do and too little time to do it. But for local actors performing in holiday entertainments, December becomes a whirlwind of activity. I remember performing in Center Rep’s “A Christmas Carol” many years ago as the Ghost of Christmas Past. That particular year we even performed on Christmas Eve – what was the producer thinking! It may have been hectic, but I think that Christmas was one of my favorites – one in which I felt the spirit of the holidays most profoundly. Although the schedule isn’t quite as daunting, the current cast of Center Rep’s “A Christmas Carol” has retained that special bond forged – unlike Marley’s chains – of love. Martinez resident Jeanine Perasso has been playing Mrs. Fezziwig in the show since 1997. “I start-

ed doing a scrapbook that first year,” says Perasso. “Each year at our first rehearsal, I always bring the previous year’s book. We all love to see how much the children have grown.” Perasso also makes an opening night gift for each cast and crewmember. “This production is about the warmth, sharing and joy people feel with loved ones. I guess the word ‘family,’ even if you’re not related, says it all,” she adds. “A Christmas Carol” continues through Dec. 21 at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts. Call 925-943-SHOW or go to To help give your holidays an old-fashioned twist, Bill Chessman offers two science fiction radio dramas. On Dec. 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 28 at 2:30 p.m., be prepared to boo, hiss or laugh out loud as Chessman presents “I Want Your Brain” and “The Biggest, Most Horriblest Monster Ever.” The first show deals with a highly respected restaurant that serves unusual fare, and the second tells of a famous scientist whose research on solving world hunger has gone terribly wrong. The shows are at the Martinez Campbell Theater, 636 Ward Street, in Martinez. Call 925518-3277 for more information. For a non-holiday theatrical experience, try Kenn Adams Synergy Theater. Taking place once a month at Lamorinda Music in Lafayette, the fulllength improvised shows rely on

This weekend is the last chance to see CenterREP’s A Christmas Carol’ at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek.

audience members to help create each show. On Dec. 20 at 8 p.m., Synergy presents “Backer’s Audition,” where audience suggestions become pivotal scenes. “Then in Act II, we take the audience’s favorite scene and transform it into a full play – or at least as much as the cast can remember,” laughs Adams. On Dec. 21 at 3 p.m., the company presents “Spontaneous Combustion,” a comic explosion based on real-life stories. Tickets can be purchased online at For more information, go to Maybe it’s not a Christmas play, but it certainly carries a holiday sentiment as the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist

Church (MDUUC) Uniplayers present “A Police Inspector Will Call.” Proceeds from the staged reading of J.B. Priestley’s Tony Award-winning play will benefit the Winter Nights program, which provides temporary shelter during the winter months for homeless families. Performances takes place Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 25 at 3 p.m. at 55 Eckley Lane in Walnut Creek. Call 925-934-3135 or go to Sally Hogarty is well known around the Bay Area as a newspaper columnist, theatre critic and working actress. She is also the editor of the Orinda News. Send comments to

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The Diablo Symphony Orchestra’s annual holiday “Home for the Holidays” concert returns with a festive repertoire featuring the gorgeous “Die Natali” Christmas Preludes by iconic 20th century American composer Samuel Barber. The orchestra will also perform several holiday choral favorites with The Ashmolean

Singers, directed by Steven Mullins. “Home for the Holidays” will be presented on Mon. Dec 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lesher Center for the Arts. Tickets to the Lesher Center concert can be ordered at 925943-SHOW (7469), online at, or at the Lesher Center Box Office The Ashmoleans were

formed in Rossmoor in the spring of 2005 from a group of 16 hand-selected men and women singers. Choristers now number over sixty. The Diablo Symphony Orchestra is a Central Contra-based community orchestra it its 52nd season. For more information about the DSO, go to

December 19, 2014

Concord Pioneer •

A Time for Us: Stars 2000 presents

‘West Side Story’

Photo by Ellen Smith.

Rachel Wirtz stars as Anita and Oliver Rubey is Bernardo in the Stars 2000 production of “West Side Story,” opening in January. SALLY HOGARTY Concord Pioneer

Forbidden love, family tensions and rival gangs will heat up the stage at Las Lomas High School this January as Stars 2000 presents “West Side Story.” What better way to portray two rival teen gangs than by having teenagers bring their youthful exuberance to the roles? “It’s a very emotional journey. The stakes are so high right from the prologue,” says Anna Barcellos, a junior at St. Mary’s High School in Berkeley who plays Maria. The roles of the young lovers are doubled with Barcellos and Griffin Silva alternating as Maria and Tony with Sydney Chow and Chris Aceves. “The emotions are very challenging,” adds Aceves, who attended Danville’s Monte Vista High School. “Tony and Maria need to have a deep connection. Luckily, this is the fourth show that Sydney and I have done

together, and we’ve become really close.” A modern day version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the Bernstein and Sondheim musical takes place on the turbulent streets of New York City. It’s the 1950s and rival gangs — the Jets and the Sharks — are about to rumble. Of course, Tony is a leader of the Jets while Maria’s Puerto Rican heritage places her with the Sharks. “Unfortunately, the racial tension and gang atmosphere is still relevant today,” says director and founder of Stars 2000 Diane Kamrin. “Part of our mission is to educate our young performers, and while the storyline can be challenging, it’s also something the kids are familiar with,” says Ellen Smith, who is co-producing the show with Julie Hahn. Set designer Mark Mendelson adds to the company’s educational element by working with the stagecraft class at Las Lomas High School as they build the set. Concord resident Sean Stover, who plays Riff, a Jet, brings an added perspective to his role. The Diablo Valley College sophomore played a Shark in a previous production. “Sometimes when rehearsing, I start to fall into my Shark persona and have to pull back. But it gives me a look into both sides,” he says. “Riff is very intense and in-your-face, but I think that’s because deep down he’s scared of losing control of the only family he knows – the Jets.” Silva, a junior at Walnut

Creek’s Northgate High School, also dug deep for his portrayal of Tony. “I wrote a complete backstory for Tony and even have a play list of period music that helps me get into character,” he explains. Silva says the show’s song “One Hand, One Heart” has special meaning for his reallife family. “My parents played the song at their wedding.” Barcellos, Silva’s Maria, translated some of her lines into Spanish to help her prepare for her role. “But, the music really helps you find your character. It’s so beautiful and exciting to sing.” According to Chow, her role as Maria was a big change. “I usually do musical comedy and this show is about losing everything you love. But it’s a good kind of challenge,” says the Benicia High School student. Finding his role a bit less daunting is Concord resident

Page 21

Gerardo Valencia, who plays Bernardo. The sophomore at San Francisco State says Bernardo is very paternal towards Maria. “As the oldest of three, I can easily relate. We also speak Spanish in my family so Bernardo is a good fit for me.” “West Side Story” marks the first production for Stars 2000 as an independent company. For 22 years, the group fell under Diablo Theatre Company (DTC). DTC suspended main stage shows at the Lesher Center for the Arts last year. “DTC decided to go in a different direction,” says Kamrin. “It wasn’t a direction we wanted to go in so we decided to form our own nonprofit.” Thanks to help from the theatrical community and parents of both current students and alumni, the fledgling company is doing well. “West Side Story” runs at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2:30 p.m. Sundays from Jan. 16 – 31. Tickets are $20 (general), $15 (students), $18 (seniors) and $14 (groups of 15 or more). Call 925-324-7359 or visit


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General auditions set for Clayton Theatre Company General auditions for the Clayton Theatre Company will be Sunday, Jan. 25 from 1 to 5 p.m. and Monday, Jan. 26 from 7 to 10 p.m. Call backs will be Tuesday, Jan. 27 from 7 to 10 p.m. at Endeavor Hall, 6008 Center St., Clayton. No appointment is necessary. Auditions are open for actors age 16 and up. Actors are asked to prepare a two-minute monologue. Those who want to be considered for the fall musical should prepare 32 bars of a musical theater song that demonstrates vocal strength and range. Bring sheet music in the appropriate key, and an accompanist will be provided. No recorded music or a cappella will be allowed. Actors are also asked to provide a head shot and resume. Download the audition form on the audition page at Clayton Theatre Company is committed to non-traditional casting. All are encouraged to audition. Auditions will be in January for the fall 2015 show, “Urinetown.” Rehearsals will begin the last week in August and the show will run in mid-October. Join the CTC mailing list to stay informed about the company’s special events and future auditions. There is also a Facebook for info and special ticket offers.

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Concord Pioneer •

December 19, 2014

A sticky finish for holiday meals LINDA WYNER




It’s really a good thing that the holidays come but once a year because my waistline and budget get stretched to the max. Of course, one could select the “light” eggnog at the store or bake up some whole grain cookies sweetened with stevia, but it just isn’t the same. So, what’s on your holiday dinner table? Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding? Glazed ham and sweet potatoes? Turkey with all the fixings? How about dessert? Unlike the huge array of pies expected during Thanksgiving, many Christmastime sweets are little things — truffles, fudge, decorated cookies and so forth. Years ago, we Americans had an obsession with holiday fruitcakes. Unfortunately, they are now more popular as the butt of many jokes. In England, however, the holiday tradition remains focused on cakes and steamed puddings. Steamed puddings are really very moist cakes, often baked in a hot water bath. Earlier this year the good folks at Pans on Fire made individual sticky toffee puddings for a class and I’ve been impatiently waiting for Christmas to make these again. Enjoy them with a steaming cup of “butterbeer” and you’ll be humming “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” in keeping with the season. Happy Holidays!

STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING (From Food Network Kitchens) Makes about 7 (one-half cup) servings Toffee Sauce: 2½ cups heavy cream, divided 1 cup sugar ½ cup light corn syrup 1 stick sweet unsalted butter In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine 1¼ cups of the heavy cream, the sugar, corn syrup and butter. Cook, stirring often, until a dark amber color, about 40 minutes. Be patient; it’s worth every minute. Carefully add the remaining 1¼ cup heavy cream. It will bubble up and it will be hot. Cake: ½ stick (4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing 6 oz. dates, pitted 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour 1 tsp. baking powder ¼ tsp. baking soda Pinch salt ¾ cup light brown sugar 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 1 large egg ¼ tsp. orange zest Whipped cream, for serving Preheat the oven to 350

degrees. Grease seven 1/2-cup ramekins and set aside. Combine the dates and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan and cook until the dates are softened, about 15 minutes. Puree in a food processor and cool. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, egg, zest and date puree. Stir in the dry ingredients. Divide into the prepared ramekins and bake about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and remove the cakes from the ramekins. You can transfer the cakes from the ramekins to individual plates and top with the sauce and a spoonful of whipped cream, or you can slice the cakes in half horizontally. Rinse out the ramekins. Pour a little toffee sauce in the bottom of the ramekins and top with the bottom layer of the cake. Add more toffee sauce, place the top cake layer on top and cover with more sauce. Heat slightly before serving invert onto plate and cover with more sauce. Serve with whipped cream.

BUTTERBEER FOR GROWN-UPS 2 Tbsp. brown sugar 2 Tbsp. butter 1 cup milk 1/2 tsp. vanilla a pinch of cinnamon 1 shot (1.5 oz) butterscotch schnapps Melt butter and sugar in a saucepan to make a caramel. Add milk. Bring to a simmer. Add vanilla, cinnamon, and schnapps. Drink while warm. Linda Wyner owns Pans on Fire, a gourmet cookware store and cooking school in Pleasanton. Send suggestions or questions to

DEC 19 Concord Pioneer 2014  
DEC 19 Concord Pioneer 2014