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Look for your next Pioneer on January 17


December 20, 2013


Concord residence offers temporary lodging for special-needs adults JOHN JACKSON Clayton Pioneer


For families with adults that have developmental disabilities, life is busy and often overwhelming. Basic household chores, local errands and other necessities can get neglected as they care for their precious loved ones. This was the case for Diane, a single parent who was caring for her adult daughter with a disability. Diane’s father was nearing the end of his life, but he lived on the east coast. She needed to visit him, but she needed help. Diane’s plight is an example of why Concord’s Respite Inn was started in 1989. The idea behind the Respite Inn is to allow families to bring their loved ones for a given period to provide rest to the caregiver and to allow an experience of relaxation and fun for the guest. “We’re here to keep families together,” says the Inn’s Director Maureen Wright. “When the families need a break, they bring their (loved one) to us, and it


New mayor seeks input from you Hello Clayton! This is my first column as your new mayor, and I would like to start it by honoring my predecessor. We are fortunate to have Julie Pierce in our city. She has served Clayton well as mayor five different times over the years, including this past year. Thank you, Julie, for all of the time and energy you devote to Clayton and our region. I am honored to serve as

See Mayor page 2

Morgan Fire, Station 11 closing top list of 2013 stories

Rochelle Douglas /

THE RESPITE INN IN CONCORD PROVIDES SHORT TERM CARE FOR DEVELOPMENTALLY DISADVANTAGED ADULTS, giving their caregivers a welcome break and the guests some relaxation time. From left: Executive Director Maureen Wright, guests Mike and Natascha and staff member Ellee Coleman.

Council names Stratford mayor for 2014

PEGGY SPEAR Clayton Pioneer

TAMARA STEINER Clayton Pioneer

As this is the last issue of the Clayton Pioneer for this calendar year, we decided to look back on the top stories that impacted our community in 2013. From fires to music to sports to theater, these issues are the ones that made residents stand up and take notice. 1) FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN A scary fire sparked by a target shooter and flamed by high, hot winds raged on Mt. Diablo for three days in September, scorching 3,111 acres, causing the evacuation of 100 homes and ultimately caused $5.3 million in damage. Still, the community support from local residents and businesses, as well as the efforts of Cal Fire, were the real story of the Morgan fire, as Clayton neighbors rallied to help those affected by evacuations and road closures, donated to Red cross efforts, and even helped find temporary homes for animals affected by the blaze. No charges were filed against the target shooter whose sport led to the Sept. 8 blaze. 2) STATION 11 CLOSES Fire safety has been a concern all year, as Clayton residents

See Review, page 7

AT THE DEC. 2 CITY COUNCIL REORGANIZATION, Julie Pierce passes the gavel to Hank Stratford, who will serve as mayor for the second time in his council career. Dave Shuey was elected vice-mayor. From left Howard Geller, Julie Pierce, Mayor Hank Stratford, Vice-mayor Dave Shuey and Jim Diaz.

The Clayton City Council’s annual reorganization at the Dec. 3 meeting handed the 2014 mayor’s gavel to Hank Stratford and put David “Shoe” Shuey in the vice-mayor’s seat. Stratford was first elected to the council in 2006 and served as mayor in 2010. He was instrumental in bringing the Do the Right Thing character building program to the schools in 2010 and wants to see the program extend into the broader commu-

nity in 2014. Stratford’s 2014 focus will include working to ensure a seamless transition at City Hall as the city heads into the year with two new key staff members. Kevin Mizuno replaces retiring finance director Merry Pelletier. City Clerk Laci Jackson Kolc resigned in December and Janet Brown will serve as interim city clerk as the city searches for a replacement. Keeping the city on sound financial ground and facilitating

See City

Council page 4

Tree Lighting starts countdown to Christmas The townsfolk bundled up in scarves, jackets and mittens and braved the frigid night air for the annual Clayton Tree Lighting festivities on Dec. 7. The evening started with horse-drawn carriage rides through town before the crowds gathered in The Grove for holiday greetings from the mayor and a short concert by an exuberant Mt. Diablo Elementary School Choir. Then, Santa, who arrived in Clayton’s vintage police car driven by Chief Thorsen, leads the “parade” down Main Street to the official tree. After an off-key

verse or two of Jingle Bells, the enthusiastic crowd counts down, Santa pulls the switch and the skies light up. Then, it’s a quick stop for cider and socializing at the Clayton Community Church before heading home. The Tree Lighting is sponsored by the Clayton Business and Community Association. The carriage rides, sponsored by Stephanie Lopez, Leigh Klock, the Moresi Family and the P2C Foundation, have become a staple in this tradition-loving town. Turn to page 3 for more Clayton Christmas photos.

What’s Inside

Club News . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Community Calendar . . . . .16 Concord City Beat . . . . . . . .9 Design and Décor . . . . . . . .15 Directory of Advertisers . . . . .5 Fashion over 50 . . . . . . . . .15 Garden Girl . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Around Town . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Book Review . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Church News . . . . . . . . . . .17 Classified . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Rochelle Douglass/

See Respite

City confirms 10 more years for Pavilion, Live Nation JAY BEDECARRÉ Clayton Pioneer

The outdoor performing arts center on Kirker Pass Road will begin its 40th season in the spring just as it did its first in 1975, as the Concord Pavilion. Earlier this month the Concord City Council approved a new 10-year management agreement with Live Nation, the world’s largest live entertainment company, to continue operating the venue, which they have done since 2000. With the expiration of the current Live Nation contract at the end of this year the City was seeking an arrangement that would see the venue, which opened in May 1975, more utilized than in recent years when there have been fewer than a dozen concerts each season. The new agreement with Live Nation mandates 75 concerts drawing a minimum of 3000 attendance over each five-year period (including a potential five-year extension from 2024-28). That works out to 15 concerts annually, a slight increase over recent years.

THE MT. DIABLO ELEMENTARY CHORUS kicked off the annual tree lighting celebration with a concert at the gazebo.

Get Up & Get Out . . . . . . . .15 Holiday Shopping Guide . . .18 Letters to the Editor . . . . . . .5 Northgate Reporter . . . . . . . .8 Pets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Performing Arts . . . . . . . . . .19 Pine Hollow Reporter . . . . . .8

Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Sports Talk . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Sports Shorts . . . . . . . . . . .13 Tech Talk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Teen Reads . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Teen Speak . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

Inn page 9

See Pavilion page 4

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Clayton Pioneer •

December 20, 2013

Around Town Blake Buchanan achieves Eagle Scout ranking

Pioneer Travels SANDUSKY, OHIO


On a recent trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio with Caroline and Luke Maynard, we provided the light reading between the roller coaster rides.

We certainly get around. Last month, we were in China, following the route of the Silk Road for 16 days. We stopped for a photo op and snapped this one at the Astana tombs outside Turpan in the ancient city of Gaochang. From left: Bob

Duensing, Candy Negrete, Stephanie Pence, Carol Riley, Jim Riley, MaryLou Gallagher.

Blake Buchanan, Boy Scout Troop #364 in Clayton, recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout when he completed building 16 barn owl boxes. He donated the boxes to the Native Bird Connections to provide a habitat for Bay Area barn owls displaced by urban development. Owls are natural predators to rodents and contribute to natural pest abatement. Blake is a 2013 graduate of De La Salle High School and attends Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. Blake is also a member of the Boy Scouts of America Order of the Arrow and is a third generation Eagle Scout. He is the son of Don “Buck” and Joy Buchanan.

from page 1 mayor. I admit that the office makes me a little nervous and I hope to serve the community in a meaningful way this next year. How can I help you, or your family, or your neighborhood? I hope that you will offer suggestions on how I and/or the city can help you. I realize that our resources are limited and that there always seems to be myriad reasons why something can’t be done, but it is helpful to hear your thoughts and ideas. As for this column, I will try to write about those things that are of interest to our community. I welcome (maybe even beg for) your questions or suggestions for the column.


Casey Mitchell goes for gold


Gary Halick has a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. In October, we went along to help him make a sales call in Guam.


CASEY MITCHELL (left) supervised a team that prepared art kits with supplies and craft instructions and delivered them to Autumn Green, director at All in Need Family Support.

Casey Mitchell is aiming for the Girls Scouts of America’s Gold Award with a project that uses art to develop skills and bring enjoyment to children with special needs. For the past eight months, Casey has taught art classes to children at All in Need Family Support in Pleasant Hill and has provided takehome art kits for the students. The Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouts, requiring at least 80 hours to complete. Casey submits her project for approval in January. All in Need provides support to East Bay families with children that have special needs. Casey is a junior at Clayton Valley Charter High School and has been in Troop 31895 since first grade.

DOING THE RIGHT THING Our schools – Mt. Diablo Elementary, Diablo View Middle School and Clayton Valley Charter High School – have each implemented our community character initiative, “Do the Right Thing.” For the months of November and December the focus is on the character trait of Kindness. This seems to be an easy time of year to witness and perform acts of kindness. I hope that we can be a little kinder to those around us. Have an enjoyable and safe Holiday Season. Feel free to contact me at

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December 20, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 3

Dessert with Mrs. Claus

Tree Lighting Celebration

Santa and Mrs. Claus heeded the CBCA call for Clayton’s kids and stopped by once again for the annual Dessert with Mrs. Claus at Endeavor Hall. Inside, the kids whispered in Mrs. Claus’ ear while out on the patio, they presented their lists to a waiting Santa. One little guy showed Santa his list and said “the circled things are what I really want. The rest are optional.”

Photos by Rochelle Douglass

Horse-drawn carriage rides have become part of Clayton’s annual Tree Lighting celebration. Pictured above, with the Cinderella coach, are sponsors Leigh Klock, Antonio Tapia and Stephanie Lopez.



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Clayton Pioneer •




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Thank you to all of our clients and friends for joining us in the holiday carriage rides.


December 20, 2013

City Council, from page 1 economic growth will continue to be high priorities for Stratford and the council. Stratford, 48, is a Clayton Valley High alum and a graduate of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He holds an MBA from U.C. Berkeley and is a Certified Public Account. The newly organized council’s first order of business was deciding what to do with $181,671 in “found” money. The excess funds were discovered by the city’s auditors when they closed the books on the 2012 fiscal year. All five council members were in agreement with City Manager Gary Napper’s request to add $54,154 to the city’s Self-Insurance Fund, which is used to cover miscellaneous legal expenses and unin-

sured claims, and another $25,000 to beef up the Capital Equipment Replacement Fund. The council was not, however, so quick to accept his recommendation to set aside $103,517 in a special “Labor Relations Contingency Fund,” pending the outcome of the city’s two labor contracts currently in active negotiation. Both the Miscellaneous Employees Group and the Clayton Police Officers Association (COPA) contracts expired June 30. Members of both bargaining units have made major concessions to avoid cutting city services during the Recession, including taking 11 unpaid furlough days. Napper expects most of these days to be reinstated in the new contracts.

Pavilion, from page 1 When the Live Nation operating contract went into effect in 2000-2003 there were 26-29 concerts annually with attendance ranging from 153,000-190,000. Since 2003 there have only been three years with as many as 20 concerts and only once in the past five years have there been more than 11 Pavilion shows. The council set out three goals in negotiating a new management contract, which drew initial interest from Nederlander and SMG in addition to Live Nation. Only Live Nation and Nederlander eventually submitted written proposals and, following analysis of those, the city exclusively negotiated with Live Nation. The three goals set out by the council for the new management contract: Revitalization/reactivation of the venue: Increase the number of concerts and diversity of commercial and community entertainment offerings. Restore a sense of civic pride and partnership.

The contract assures an average of 15 concerts per year, slightly more than the recent average but far less than the Pavilion presented in its first 25 years when 50 shows a season were the norm. The diversity of offerings remains to be seen as Live Nation navigates a challenging touring concert landscape. Changing the name back to Concord Pavilion from the Sleep Train Pavilion at Concord (it was Chronicle Pavilion for a number of years as well) and offering local residents opportunities for pre-sales (300 available to residents before general public sales) and free tickets (1000 to City residents and 1000 to Concord school children each year) address the goal as well. Financial stability: Receive revenue to cover debt costs and minimize financial risk to the City. The contract calls for a guaranteed $800,000 payment to the City each year (rising to $900,000 should the extension kick in). This replaces the previous

Several council members questioned the wisdom of earmarking the funds before negotiations were complete. “Is this (amount) a starting point?” asked Stratford. “Or does it say ‘this is what we have – it’s all you’re going to get.’” “I have a problem showing our hand this early,” Shuey agreed. “This is the downside of public transparency. I don’t want us to be bound to this amount.” Council member Julie Pierce was not as worried about the city showing its cards. “The damage is done,” she said. “These numbers are already out there — they go through city hall faster than Gary can get them to us. That’s the nature of a small town.” The council finally voted 4-1 to accept Napper’s recommendation. Howard Geller cast the single “no” vote.

arrangement of a $500,000 payment plus $3 per ticket surcharge. The new deal has an escalating ticket surcharge for sales over 100,000 (starting at $3 per ticket for first five years). Improve structural integrity and quality of maintenance: The Pavilion appearance (from parking lots to restrooms) has diminished over the years since the City stopped its maintenance responsibilities in 2000. Live Nation has pledged to spend $3.7 million before the end of 2016 on capital investment. The firm will allocate $100,000 annually for facility repairs and maintenance with the City committing an equivalent amount. When the contract was submitted for final ratification on Dec. 10, Concord City Manager Valerie Barone said, “I believe that the council made this happen. They were very clear that something needed to change and we needed a renewed commitment and reinvigoration of the facility,” Barone said. “Because they made that so clear, I believe we ended up with a much better contract than we would have.”

December 20, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Letters to the Editor 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 PAMELA W IESENDANGER , Administration

Give Common Core a chance

S TAFF W RITERS : Denisen Hartlove, Pam Wiesendanger, Peggy Spear

We remember Jill Bedecarré - Her spirit is our muse


Tel: (925) 672-0500 Fax: (925) 672-6580 Tamara Steiner Send ads to Send Sports News to Send Club News to Send Church News to

Send School News to

Send Classified Ads to

can also mail or bring your print to the office and we can scan it for you. Also on the website are forms for calendar items, events & press releases. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The Clayton Pioneer welcomes letters from our readers. As a general rule, letters should be 250 words or less and submitted at least one week prior to publication date. Letters concerning current issues will have priority. We may edit letters for length and clarity. All letters will be published at the editor’s discretion. Please include name, address and daytime telephone number. We will not print anonymous letters. E-mail your letter to Letters must be submitted via E-mail.

CLASSIFIEDS Classified rates per insertion: $48 for first 30 words, 40 cents each additional word Non-profit: $24 for first 30 words, 20 cents each additional word To place your classified ad over the phone, call the office at (925) 6720500 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mon.Fri. All classifieds must be paid for in advance by credit card (Master Card or Visa) We will not accept any ad that discriminates on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, nationality, family status or disability. The Clayton Pioneer reserves the right to reject any advertising we believe is unsuitable.

LET US KNOW Weddings, engagements, anniversaries, births and deaths all weave together as part of the fabric of our community. Please let us know of these important events. We ask only that the announcement be for a resident in our home delivery area. Submit on our website and be sure to attach a JPG photo that is at least 3 MB but not bigger than 6MB. You

I found the article on Common Core in the Nov. 22 issue of the Pioneer to be fantastic. It gave me a great deal of information, plus it had a balance of opinions. I attended a session on Common Core put on by the Mt. Diablo School District. I came away thinking that Common Core was anything but “radical.” Still in place will be the same schools and subjects and teachers and student-teacher ratios. We were told that a goal would be for these same teachers to cover fewer items, but with more depth. That seems like a reasonable goal. Personally, I would like to see the District have “blended learning” schools at all levels, ones that reduce the studentteacher ratio in favor of computer-based-education opportunities. Clearly, a percentage of kids would thrive in such an environment.

What I hope does not happen is that Common Core is attacked as if the sky will fall if it implemented. That kind of stuff is what I find “radical.” George Fulmore Concord

Quincy Winship Your editorial response re the Quincy Winship award was well thought out and succinctly stated. The reader who criticized the Pioneer's recognition of Ms. Winship's accomplishments sparked an interesting debate, however, I believe the Pioneer struck the right balance. Whether in football, art, or in this instance, marksmanship, achieving excellence is the product of dedication, and should be noted. Congratulations to Ms. Winship, and to the Pioneer for eschewing zealotry on either side of the gun debate. David DeMordaunt Clayton

CIRCULATION Total circulation of the Clayton Pioneer is 15,500. Papers are delivered to households in ZIP codes 94517, 94518 and 94521. In Clayton, all papers are delivered Every Door Direct by the US Post Office. We cannot start or stop delivery to individual addresses. All Concord delivery is by carrier and delivered twice a month on a Friday morning. To stop delivery for any reason, call the office at (925) 6720500 or email 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 call us or send an email to If you are not in the shaded area, please be patient. We will come to your neighborhood soon.

SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe, call the office at (925) 672-0500. Subscriptions are $50/year and are for full year only.

News & Feature Writers The Clayton Pioneer is looking for news and feature writers who have a passion for community journalism. Assignments are made on a freelance basis. Writers must be local (Clayton or Concord residents), and have a polished, lively and interesting style. Send two short writing samples — a straight news story and a feature or profile to Include contact information and a cover letter.

Classified SENIOR SERVICES Getting you out and about. Local mom, active in the community, offering non-medical and practical help: shopping, errands, salon, doctor visits. Transportation included. Seniors About Town, Terri Gerow at 3305090.

GARDENING Flower Gardening by Nicole Hackett Perennial, ornamental, rose and container care. Keep your garden in flowers this year with monthly fertilizing and pruning visits. Email for consultation or details.


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ing You a Very Happy Wish Holiday Season

Richard A. Littorno LITTORNO LAW GROUP Assisted over 4,000 Families since 1979      

Office and retail space for lease in Historic Clayton City Center: Village Oaks Center, 6200 Center St., Clayton. Call Nick Adamson at (408) 371-8770, ext. 21.

Living Trusts and Wills Tax & Estate Planning, LLM (Tax) Probate & Trust Administration Asset Protection Strategies Medi-Cal & VA Benefit Planning VA Accredited Attorney, Member of Academy of VA Pension Planners and ElderCounsel

Computer Tech Growing business has position for onsite pro computer tech in Contra Costa County. Must have experience in Windows and Mac OS, network repair and troubleshooting. ComputersUSA! 672-9989. Sales Associate Rodie's Feed & Pet Supply is looking for an animal-loving, team player with excellent customer service skills. Shifts 2-3 days per week; 8.5 hours. Contact Nicole for more information: or 672-4600. Come join Mazzei Realty! Currently interviewing and hiring new and experienced real estate agents. Call 693-0757 for details.

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Holiday Guide Bella Mia Spa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .680-7792 Clayton Furniture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .686-2299 Concord United Methodist Church . . . . . . . . . . . .685-5260 Earthquake Arabians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .360-7454 Lehmer’s Concord Buick GMC . . . . . . . . . . . . . .344-4205 Nichols Landscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9955 SNAP Fitness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .693-0110 Walker, Becky – Nails . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .640-8995 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 Iron Horse Concrete . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .566-8666 Steffan Smith Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .914-0497 Tipperary Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216-2679 Dining and Entertainment Clayton Club Saloon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .673-0440 Oakhurst Country Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9737 Financial, Insurance and Legal Services DuRee, Daniel – The Law Office of . . . . . . . . . . .210-1400 Littorno, Richard – The Law Office of . . . . . . . . .432-4211 Sorensen, David – Wells Fargo . . . . . . . . . . . . . .296-3086 Travis Credit Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .888-698-0000 Van Wyck, Doug – State Farm Insurance . . . . . .672-2300 Funerals Ouimet Funeral Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .682-4242 Groceries Doorstep Farmers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .349-4568 Home and Garden Diablo Lawnscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .381-3757 Interiors Panache . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-7920 Navlet’s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .681-0550 The Floor Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .969-9890 The Maids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .798-6243 Utopic Gardens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .524-0055 Waraner Bros. Tree Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .831-2323 Waraner Tree Experts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .250-0334 Mailing Services The UPS Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-6245 Medical Clayton Valley Medical Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-6744 Optometry Foresight Optometry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-4100 Pet Services Cat Hospital of Clayton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2287 Monte Vista Veterinary Hospital . . . . . . . . . . . . . .276-5744 Pittsburg Pet Resort . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .432-7387 Rodie's Feed and Pet Supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-4600 Real Estate and Mortgage Services French, Lynne – Windermere Real Estate . . . . . .672-8787 Geddes-Sinclaire, Christine – Alain Pinel . . . . . .286-7593 Howard, Don – Better Homes Realty . . . . . . . . . .408-3184 Howard, Emily – Better Homes Realty . . . . . . . .408-1871 Klock, Leigh – Coldwell Banker . . . . . . . . . . . . . .212-5593 Landgraf, Linda – Prudential . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .876-0311 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 Levity Fitness Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2995


Senior Services Chateau on Broadway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .686-1700 Montecito – Oakmont Senior Living . . . . . . . . . . .852-6702

Help Fight Hunger Anna Chan – AKA: The Lemon Lady needs your help! Weekly commitment appreciated. For more info and contact numbers, go to

Clayton Community Library Needs volunteers. Minimum age 13. Minimum commitment is 6 months. Some training provided. Contact Arlene at 673-9777 or

Pittsburg Office:

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Page 6

Clayton Pioneer •

December 20, 2013

Neighbors organize to oppose Silver Oaks development TAMARA STEINER Clayton Pioneer

A high-density housing development proposed for 14 acres on the south side of Oakhurst Blvd. is raising the ire of adjacent residents. The neighbors, organized as Clayton Citizens for Responsible Development, are opposed to the Silver Oaks project which includes 54 condominiums, seven single-family homes and a recreation center with a community pool and cabana. The affected residents recently met at the home of Isabella Carranza in Oakhurst to review their concerns and formalize their group. Chief worries are traffic congestion, increased student load on local schools and the sheer size of the development which, they say is not in keeping with the “small town” feel of Clayton. “This development is outrageous,” said a resident who asked not to be named. The seven single-family homes will be at the north end of Lydia Lane, with gated access from the one-lane, Italianatestyle Lydia Lane bridge. Residents are concerned that the

increased traffic so close to Lydia Lane Park will create a safety hazard for pedestrians. The condominiums are clustered at the east end of the property with access from Oakhurst Blvd. via an extension of Yolanda Circle. The property includes a stretch of Mt. Diablo Creek designated by the State Water Resources Board as having “beneficial use for fish spawning and habitat for endangered species.” “This is a wildlife corridor,” said Meredith Yalenty. “I love seeing the foxes and the turkeys in my yard.” Yalenty moved to her Oakhurst home which is near the proposed condos, just one week before getting notice of the development. Environmental studies, which will address the wildlife issues and other impacts of the project, are currently underway. According to Clayton Community Development Director Charlie Mullen, the city expects to receive a “mitigated negative declaration,” meaning all issues must be addressed by the developer before the project can proceed. Mullen does not expect a draft report before the end of January. “This is a big project,”

Mullen noted. “We’re taking all the time we need for a thorough analysis.” The proposed development is adjacent to expensive singlefamily homes on large lots – from a quarter to a full acre. Opponents agree that the highdensity plan proposed is out of place. It doesn’t fit aesthetically and could potentially attract “low income housing designations,” causing a decline in surrounding home values. The property is owned by Richard Seeno, who purchased it from the Hurd family in 1970. In 2009, the old ranch house, built in the 1920s and known locally as “Yolanda” burned down. A caretaker’s residence, water tower, stables, corral and bridge are still standing. The environmental study will consider whether these buildings are culturally historic and subject to the Cultural Resource Evaluation required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Once the environmental studies are complete, there will be a window of 30 days for public comment before it goes to the Planning Commission for approval, probably not before March.

December 20, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 7

2014 looks rosy for housing


REAL ANSWERS Q. Any positive news on the housing front leading into 2014? A. Though there are still many challenges with the housing market recovery, economists predict a much stronger economic recovery will take hold next year. This is led by the housing market. These predictions are from mortgage giant Freddy Mac’s economic report. As long as we have increasing income growth, even if

interest rates go up, we should have affordability on the Pacific Coast. The Atlantic coast also has the affordability risks. Housing in most other parts of the country will remain affordable. In spite of this, Freddy predicts that in 2014 single-family home sales will reach a level higher than 2013. They predict that borrowing costs and interest rates will keep going up but other factors will allow the housing market to continue to recover. Something positive for our general area is that out of the top 10 towns that lead the housing recovery, six are in California. Two are in the Bay Area: Oakland (No. 1) and San Jose (No. 4). This is based on inventory, median list price, days on the market and search and listing activity. This study is from the California Association of Realtors.

Q. What are some of the most expensive home sales this year by the rich and famous. I find this topic fascinating A. I do too. Periodically I will present interesting home sales of various types. Today I will talk about a few significant estates selling this year. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s Franklin Estate: It is a 753-acre parcel in Franklin, TN. The property has four residences and an 12-stall barn. This home was previously owned by Hank Williams Sr. It is selling for $20 million. This home isn’t their primary residence. That is a custom-built home in Nashville. Jon Bon Jovi: His SoHo penthouse is nearly all glass, with 360-degree views of Manhattan. Bought in 2007, he put millions into renovations. It is selling for $39.9 million.

“ Let Us Light Up Your Life”

Richard Gere: He bought two parcels in the Hamptons in 2005 and 2007. They were $6.9 million and $1.675 million respectively. It is named “Strongheart” Manor. It is 12,000 square feet with 12 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms and more than 300 feet of waterfront. It is selling for $65 million. Celine Dion: She bought two homes, one for $12.5 million in 2004 and one in 2007 for $7 million. The diva turned them into a resort-style oasis with several pools, patios, a bridge and a floating river between the homes. She isn’t spending much time at the estate so is selling it for $72.5 million.



Review, from page 1 decried the closing of the only Contra Costa Fire Protection station in town, Station 11, in January. The defeat of Measure Q in November 2012 led to the shuttering of four Contra Costa County stations, including No. 11. However, Fire District and county leaders scrambled to come up with a plan that would not leave Clayton area residents without services. Firefighters from Station 22 near the Crystyl Ranch housing development work out of the Clayton station during part of the district’s peak call hours of 2 p.m. until 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The Clayton station stands empty on Sundays. 3) SMD SCORES BIG WITH CURRY RANCH PURCHASE In November, Save Mount Diablo announced their biggest and most expensive land acquisition in its 43-year history, with the $7.2 million purchase of the 1,100-acre Curry Canyon Ranch. The property is the “heart” of Mt. Diablo and will ultimately be transferred to the state to add to Mt. Diablo State Park. 4) CONCORD PAVILION REIGNS AGAIN

As first reported in the Clayton Pioneer, the Concord City Council has approved an agreement that continues management of the city’s performing arts amphitheater by Live Nation for the next decade. The contract calls for the firm to produce a minimum of 75 concerts over five years, attracting minimum attendance of 3,000 over the first five years and a similar amount the next five years through 2023. The company has not exceeded a dozen shows in any of the past three years. The agreement also calls for the reinstatement of the venue’s name as the Concord Pavilion. 5) CITY OF CLAYTON BUYS CHURCH PROPERTY FOR DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT

The city of Clayton and the Clayton Community Church finalized a deal in January that both sides called a win/win when

the city agreed to purchase the larger of the church’s two downtown parcels – 1.66 acres between Main Street and Clayton Road – for $1 million. They also received a first right of refusal to purchase the adjacent smaller parcel where the old Pioneer Inn houses church offices and meeting rooms.The deal will assure the future commercial development of the Town Center and allow the church to complete the purchase of a 4.5-acre building site on the hill next to Mt. Diablo Elementary School. 6) VALERIE BARONE SELECTED AS CONCORD’S CITY MANAGER Valerie Barone, who was hired on as Concord’s assistant city manager four years ago – and had served as Interim city manager since January 2012 – was the unanimous choice of the Concord City Council to fill the top position on a permanent basis. She was officially appointed to the job April 9. Barone worked in San Mateo County and as community development manager for the cities of Milpitas and Walnut Creek before shifting her attention to Concord, Contra Costa’s largest city, and one that has always been mired in issues of land use. “I am very good at pulling together disparate ideas and visions, and helping develop strong plans,” Barone said. 7) CYCLIST SURVIVES LIFETHREATENING CRASH INJURIES

A terrible head-on collision between a motorcycle and a Toyota Corolla on Clayton Road June 27 left the 51-year-old cyclist in critical condition and a 21-year old Clayton woman, Jessica Mercurio, facing charges for felony DUI with a penalty enhancement that could mean a state prison sentence. The plight of the crash victim, Mark Tomaszewski, inspired local residents to send good wishes and help raise funds for medical care. Tomaszewski, an operating room technician at the Sequoia Surgical Center in Walnut Creek, suffered internal injuries, severe head injuries and multiple broken bones. He has made steady

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progress and is now at home, and is “humbled by all the support from the community.”

although several backing up to the Cardinet Trail were filled with smoke. Neighbors near the fire were out with garden hoses and chainsaws, removing low hanging branches near their properties. According to Police Chief Chris Thorsen, the fires appear to be connected and all deliberately set.

8) MASONIC TEMPLE MOVED Thanks to the tireless efforts of some local historians, Concord’s once-and-future dance hall will again be open for business when the Concord Masonic Temple becomes the Concord History Museum and Resource Center sometime in the next few years. In May, construction crews moved the 85-foot-long by 50foot-wide temple weighing almost 300 tons, 1,200 feet to its new site across Clayton Road. The Masonic Temple was built in 1927 by local craftsman Laurence Perry. It served as a community center, hosting both meetings and socials. From the early 1930s through the 1960s, the building was “the spot” for local dances, attracting big bands from San Francisco and Oakland, and even a 12-year-old musician named Dave Brubeck. 9) CLAYTON TRIES ITS HAND AT BOCCE

By next summer, Clayton’s nights will be filled with the thwack of palinos hitting bocce balls. The Clayton Business and Community Association, approved plans to help fund bocce courts at the corner of Main and Oak Streets, on property owned by the Ipsen family. Skip and Kent Ipsen and Ed Hartley shared their vision of having the organization help create four bocce courts in July, and CBCA was quick to embrace the idea of having the popular sport come to Clayton. The ambitious plan called for CBCA to switch its tax exempt status, gain city support, and procure funding for the $250,000 project. Skip Ipsen would contribute $125,000 cash to the CBCA, while the club would agree to front the remaining $125,000. 10) ARSONISTS STRIKE ALONG CARDINET TRAIL Suspects are still at large in a string of eight grassfires that were deliberately set along the Cardinet Trail in Clayton in July. The fires were small, burning a total of no more than two acres. No homes were damaged,


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11) GONSALVESES ELECTED TO HALL OF FAME The Clayton Valley High School Athletic Hall of Fame inducted its third class on May 18. Athletes, teams and coaches dating from the 1960s to the end of the millennium were lauded for their accomplishments on the field, court, track and pool. Yet none of the newly-enshrined Hall of Famers has had a greater impact on the school over the past four decades than Debra and Steve Gonsalves, who were 2013’s Community/Leadership honorees.

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12) LIVE THEATER RETURNS TO CLAYTON It was a rousing, bawdy Southern fairy tale, “The Robber Bridegroom,” that ushered live theater back to Clayton. The new Clayton Theatre Company presented the rollicking production in October to rave reviews at Endeavor Hall. The company will be holding auditions for its next Broadway-style production in January. Stay tuned!

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Clayton Pioneer •

Congressman’s visit spotlights Northgate’s award-winning sports medicine program

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News teams and cameras descended on Northgate High School Nov. 22 as Congressman George Miller presented the National Safe Sports School Award First Team, praising the top-ranked sports medicine program that provides top-notch care to Bronco athletes. Miller was joined by former NFL defensive back Honor Jackson to promote his bill, the Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act, which will create new guidelines on handling concussions in sports. More than 100 student trainers from the Regional Occupation Program (ROP) sports medicine classes, as well as sports staff and administrators, attended the Friday morning ceremony the gym “We want to identify a concussion when it happens, arrange

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REPORTER for athletes to not have to play, not have to go to school concussed, make classroom modifications, and just make sure that they come back when it is appropriate and safe,” sports medicine instructor Glen Barker said. “We do this so we can check for lasting symptoms, post-concussion syn-

drome, anything that’ll affect them in their career.” Northgate boasts one the best sports medicine programs in the nation. Every school team is assisted by another team, commonly known as “sports med.” They attend nearly every practice of every team, and they are at every game, perfecting their craft of taping ankles and wrists and assisting athletes when they need it. “Having them there is such a boost,” said senior Jeremy Lee, who played center on the football team and is a sports medicine participant. “Whatever we need, they’ve got it.” Sports med has thrived at Northgate. Incoming juniors take the rigorous ROP course that may lead to potential career options. Enrollees learn about

the human body and go through a real life scenario in which they must act appropriately and correctly in order to become a “level two,” exceptional seniors in their second year of Sports Med. Like those on the field, they are in uniform, khaki pants with a wide range of t-shirts and polos, all labeled “Northgate Sports Med.” From summer until the football team’s recent playoff loss, a set squad of level-twos came to every practice, rain or shine. In fact, come game day, sports med participants often outnumber the players geared up on the field. “Football trainers came to summer morning practices

See Northgate pg 17

Importance of family, traditions outshines what’s under the tree

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December 20, 2013


PINE HOLLOW REPORTER For many families around the world, Christmas is an important holiday. For some it is because of their religion. For others it is because they get to spend time with family, friends and the people they love.

Christmas is an important holiday for my family because it doesn’t matter what is under the Christmas tree. What matters is who we spend the holiday with and how we make the holiday our own each year. I spoke with Pine Hollow Middle School eighth grader Diego Salcedo, he said “It is important to my family that they are together and are able to have fun.” That is just one example of how the importance of Christmas differs

between families. I also talked with eighth grader, Emma Ramirez, who says Christmas is important to her family because they like to be with loved ones and they love seeing and spending time with relatives they haven’t seen in a while. Christmas is important in different ways to families. It could be because of the people they spend it with or because of the traditions they have. Although families spend Christ-

mas differently, in a way it is the same. Each and every family makes Christmas their own and enjoys how they spend it. Christmas comes just once a year, so whether its spending time with family, or enjoying old or making new traditions, enjoy it while it lasts. Carlie Beeson is an 8th grader at Pine Hollow Middle School. She enjoys reading, playing soccer, and singing. Questions or comments? Email her at License. 906211

Midterms aren’t a zombie apocalypse






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The days become shorter and the nights grow longer. The sky fades into dark-gray as cold clouds and fog shroud the sunlight. Before I leave the safety and warmth of home, I make certain I have the proper supplies I need to survive the day. Upon reaching my destination, I tense upon seeing the hundreds of lifeless bodies roaming the hallways. They crowd the campus, stumbling in a daze. Their faces are ashen with fatigue, and their spines contorted by the weight of a dozen textbooks. My fellow survivors and I unite to escape the groaning horde of exhaust-

ed teenagers and prepare for the final test. No, this vivid description is not a trailer for the next blockbuster zombie apocalypse movie; in fact, it is far more horrifying. For the next few days, students everywhere will be preparing for the final battle of the semester: midterms. Is it reasonable to compare first semester finals to a zombie epidemic? Almost certainly, considering that both the students and staff at Clayton Valley Charter High School have dubbed the week prior to finals as “Dead Week”— perhaps honoring mortality rate of students’ social lives. In reality, Dead Week means no more new curriculum in classes, so students can dedicate all their attention to final exams. Surviving both midterms and pandemics require quick responses, forgoing sleep for preparation, and swinging around heavy backpacks like melee weapons. With bloodshot eyes, pale complexions, and shallow breathing,

most students look and surely feel like the walking dead. However, for the hardworking teenagers at CVCHS who are willing to do anything to survive potential catastrophe, the school initiated the first ever “Cocoa and Cram” program. For the duration of Dead Week, students were welcomed into


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See Teenspeak pg 17

‘Night Road’ is unforgettable journey

EMILY YORK It could be a virus, or it could just need a tune-up.

the cafeteria for optional, afterschool study sessions. For two hours each day, dozens of students crowded the building to cram for tests and escape the chilly weather. As an extra incentive to encourage attendance, the staff

“Sometimes you need to be a little broken before you can put yourself back together” is Alexa Baill’s (Lexi’s) life motto. In “Night Road” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press; March, 2011), Lexi grew up with a mother who was in and out of jail, which caused Lexi to be in and out of foster homes. Sometimes she would find a good family to live with, but once they found out about her unappealing life story, which consisted of living on the streets with a drug-addicted mother, no one wanted any part of her. Once her mother died, Lexi came into contact with her great-aunt, Eva Lange, and moved with her to Port George,

Washington. Before she knew it, Lexi was forced to face her worst nightmare: her first day of high school. But when she thought her day couldn’t get any worse, things took a turn for the better when she meet Mia Farraday. The two quickly became best friends and Lexi slowly yet secretly fell in love with Mia’s twin brother, Zach Farraday. Keeping their relationship from Mia didn’t last long but she didn’t mind; instead, the three of them became indivisible. When their senior year of high school comes along, all kinds of mistakes are made and one night Lexi, Mia, and Zach make one terrible decision that they can’t undo and never forget. The events that follow that horrible night are what makes this a truly remarkable book. This masterpiece kept me rising with hope and plunging with fear. “Night Road” is a remarkable book about an unforgettable tragedy and the power of forgiveness. Emily York is a freshman at CVCHS.

December 20, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 9

Naming of city streets should fall to council for input


CONCORD CITY BEAT What’s in a name? Well, a lot. Especially if we are talking about the name of a street you might live on. And I believe residents

should have more of a say about how local streets are named. The most common names for streets in the United States (in order) are: Second, Third, First, Fourth, Park, Fifth, Main, Sixth, Oak, and Seventh. Some of the other common names are types of trees and names of people and places. Sometimes names of streets are used to recognize notable figures like Washington, Jefferson, Martin Luther King or (locally,) Salvio Pacheco. In the City of Concord, just who decides whether a street shall be named or renamed? Many would probably assume that the elected City Council would have

the final decision, but surprisingly it has more to do with the people who are not elected: the property developers or the city’s planning staff. Developers planning a new development contact the city’s planning staff to allocate street names. Those names are proposed to the planning manager and he/she approves it without any input from the elected city council. Staff does, however, consult with the fire district and the Concord Police Department and others when they feel necessary, such as adjacent cities, utility providers, and the U.S. Postal Service. This ensures that the new

street name is not confusing or duplicative (with very similar sounding names, such as Bootbinders and Bookbinders) and that it follows logical addressing conventions for emergency responders. I believe that this street naming procedure in Concord is a good process to have in our city however, with one major change. It is my contention that the elected City Council should have the final say in naming or changing the names of our streets. The naming our streets is too important to leave in the hands solely to the city staff or with developers. Names that are assigned will

Grayson says downtown growth, weapons station project highlight Concord’s future PEGGY SPEAR Clayton Pioneer

New Concord mayor Tim Grayson has just one word to describe his plans as mayor of Contra Costa’s largest city: “Opportunity.” “There is so much going on right now, so much possibility for growth,” he told the Clayton Pioneer. “Our city is brimming with opportunity.” Grayson was elected by his colleagues on the city council earlier this month to serve in the new two-year term. Councilman Ron Leone was elected vice-mayor. For Grayson, the new two-year term could be a bit problematic. First elected to the council in 2010, he is up for reelection next fall – just one year into his two-year term as mayor. “I hope I get to serve the full term,” he laughs. That sense of optimism underscores Concord’s fortune these days. With the help of Measure Q – the half-cent sales tax – as well as increased sales tax from businesses, the city has weathered recent economic woes. Between the recession and the loss of local redevelopment funds, Concord took a double whammy to its coffers. While Concord wasn’t alone in its financial distress, Grayson is quick to say “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” The heart of the city’s resurgence, according to Grayson, is the potential for development downtown around Todos Santos Plaza, the Monument corridor, and perhaps most importantly, the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

CONCORD CITY COUNCILMAN TIM GRAYSON (right) was elected by the Concord council to fill the new two-year mayor’s term. Behind him is Ron Leone, who will serve as vice-mayor for a one year term

Grayson estimates that the transfer of CNWS lands from the Navy to the city will begin as early as late 2014, and from then on he expects to see “a lot of interest” from developers that will help vitalize the community. His own main goal is to see the development of a “world-class sports facility,” that will attract players and businesses. He also hopes that the CNWS lands can be the home of a state university. “We are the only county of more than one million people in the state without [its own] state university,” he says. “I think that can change.” He says there has already been interest by California State University officials.

Respite Inn, from page 1


warmly decorated like a comfortable bed-and-breakfast. On this day, a guest is sitting on a recliner with an iPad on her lap, enjoying a movie. Another is getting ready for a game of holiday bingo with the staff. Each bedroom in the home is themed to add variety: Southwestern Room, 49ers Room, Garden Room, and Angel Room. The kitchen is well equipped for family dinners. There are large living areas intended for playing board games, watching television, relaxing on the sofa, or engaging in conversation.

The facility rests in a peaceful neighborhood setting in Concord. The ranch-style accommodations allow guests to have handicap access if needed and plenty of space to enjoy the property. There are simple decorations furnishing the grounds and one can visualize guests eating a picnic or throwing a Frisbee on the lawn. Over the years, many improvements have been done to the outside one-acre inn, many of them coming from volunteers such as the Boy Scouts. One such boy completed his Eagle Scout project by designing and installing an impressive bocce ball court in the garden-like backyard. Another Eagle Scout did the same when he put in a raised vegetable garden for the guests and staff to enjoy. All of this adds to a calming environment that gives guests a home-like feel while their caregivers tend to other matters. The inside of the Inn is

RESPITE FOR CAREGIVERS The Inn serves about 120 guests per year and is licensed through the State of California. Some of these return several times throughout the year, as their families need the service regularly. Guests may stay anywhere from one to 21 days at a time, depending on the situation. “Mike is here because his sister (caregiver) is moving,” says Wright of one guest. “Once she has everything settled, he will go back with her. Change is hard enough already for him, it’s better if she can do the whole move while he is here.” Staff members at the facility work daily to provide a caring environment for each guest at the inn. There are three full-time workers and one part-time worker. The rest of the helpers are on-call and available depending on the need. The demands of the inn and the staff multiply

gives their family member a chance to have fun and experience life away from home in a little more independent situation. The goal is both for the caretaker and for the family member who has a disability, to help them.” With the help of the Respite Inn, Diane was able to visit her father before he passed away. The Inn cared for her daughter for three weeks during that time. “I choke up every time I talk about it,” says Wright. PEACEFUL, FUN

Housing will also play a major role in that development, he says. Another area of growth for city is the area of Grant Street from the Concord BART station to Todos Santos Plaza. “I want Concord to be a destination city, the sort of place people come to eat, shop and play,” he says. Already he says last summer’s concert series and Farmers Market on Thursday nights at Todos Santos Plaza attracted more people than ever before. In addition, local hotels are working together to develop a Tourist District, taxing themselves to promote Concord as a hub for activities and conferences. Another one of Grayson’s pet projects is a Family Justice Center, a public/private endeavor that will help alleviate domestic violence in the community. “More than 50 percent of crime in the U.S. is committed by someone who was a victim of domestic violence,” he says. “The city hopes that by ‘nipping this in the bud’ we can cut down on the source of crime in the city.” He says the center should be up and running by the end of 2014. Finally Grayson, who serves as a crisis chaplain for the Concord Police Department and is involved in the Citizens’ Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, hopes to create neighborhood emergency centers in every neighborhood. “I want Concord to be prepared when the Big One comes,” he says. “There should be no instances of people going without food or power after an emergency,” he says. Grayson is owner of Grayson Construction. He and his wife Tammy have two children.

during the holiday season since families are busy and a simple break from caretaking care make a huge difference. Most of the staff members have been there for many years are clearly content in what they do. “Sometimes you feel you were born to do certain things and this is my thing,” says Ellee Coleman, who has been at the Inn for 13 years. “I feel like this is my calling and this is what I do.” The inn not only provides respite for the caregiver, when guests come to the Inn, they rarely want to leave. “They’re usually nervous to come for the first time, because it’s like going to camp and you don’t know anybody,” says Wright. “But once

they come here, they love it! It’s like being at a slumber party. They develop new friends and they get so excited and we have so many activities for them to do.” Thirty-nine year-old guest Natascha feels exactly that way. “I like the people a lot!” she says excitedly, with a huge smile on her face. It’s obvious that Natascha has a special rapport with the staff at the inn. “That’s Cookie,” she says of Coleman. “Her name is Ellee, but I say Cookie. Cookie, is that right!?” “That’s right,” replies Coleman. If you would more information about the Respite Inn, call 925-6865758 or visit

be with us forever. With the final decision left in the hands of our elected officials, the residents of Concord will be afforded greater input on the naming of streets as well. With the current procedures, there is little accountability to the choosing of street names. There is also little (if any) public input. I will be asking that the City Council look at addressing this street

naming policy in January. With the coming of the development of the Concord Naval Weapon Station area, this will become of even greater importance. Ron Leone, a Concord city councilman and former mayor, welcomes comments and questions. Call him at (925) 680-1776 or

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Clayton Pioneer •

December 20, 2013

Holiday bakers blend fun and PEGGY SPEAR Clayton Pioneer

Make no mistake, Claytonians love their holiday cookies. And never was that so apparent as when more than 70 local bakers and cookie aficionados crowded into Hoyer Hall at the Clayton Library for the Clayton Pioneer’s 10th annual Holiday Cookie Contest on Dec. 12. The five judges touched, sniffed and ultimately tasted 25 decadent desserts, and when finally the cookie crumbled, Priscilla Williams and McKenah Alton walked away the winners in their respective categories. Williams won the Master Baker category for adult cookie makers for her strawberry almond bars, and McKenah was tops in the Junior Baker category with A Little Slice of Heaven: a graham cracker, chocolate and peppermint confection. Coming in a close second and third, respectively, for the Master Baker category were Linda Mieczkowski with a white chocolate raspberry cookie, and Jessie Hoppie with traditional Christmas “Shuggies.” Joanna Rogers took second place in the Junior Bakers category with her Reindeer Cookies, while third place went to Sarah Mieczkowski with her homemade “Snicker Bar.” It was a close race this year, said head judge Nicole Hackett, gardening columnist for the Pioneer. “There were some really outstanding, original cookies.” “My teeth hurt,” said judge Chris Thorson, Clayton’s Chief of Police, after muttering that the cookies were so good,

First Place, Master Baker Priscilla Williams Strawberry Almond Bars

COMPETITION WAS HEAVY FOR THE TOP HONORS at this year’s Christmas Cookie Contest. Pictured with head judge, Nicole Hackett(left) and Santa are Jessie Hoppie (third place), Linda Mieczkowski (second place) and Doug Williams standing in for wife and first place winner, Priscilla Williams.

“there were some to die for.” Big praise coming from the police chief. Junior judge Caitlin Reimer, a teen correspondent for the Pioneer, said what she looks for in a good cookie is “chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.” There was plenty of that going around. Judge Tamara Aszklar was perhaps best prepared for her job, having taken the top honors in the past three contests. This year, she hung up her apron and picked up a clipboard. And even her discerning palate was impressed by the winners. “My favorite was the one that ultimately won,” she said. Clayton’s Sue Elliot rounded out the judging panel,

and was instrumental in helping set up the busy crafts table that kept children occupied for the hour or so while the judges rated the cookies. There was face painting, origami and bookmark making. Revelers were treated to the music of local family band the Van Liew Family — dad Kris, mom Becky, and children Justin, 19, Lynnsae, 18, George Curtis, 17, Peter 12 and Joshua, 8 with sing-along caroling and a several children shaking bells and snapping belts helping the band keep time with “Sleigh Ride.” However, the highlight of the evening was an appearance by the Big Man himself, Santa Claus, who sang along with the band, shook hands and gifted the patient children with candy canes while they waited for the judging to be over and the sampling to begin. Some of the experts in the house shared what they look for in a good cookie. “Taste,” said 10-year-old contestant Maddie LaVenture. “Texture,” said 9-

year-old Megan Perkins. “Not too crunchy,” said her brother Tyler, 10. There were enough soft cookies to satisfy Tyler, as well as some crunchy ones to appeal to Megan’s love of texture. Contestant Hilde Chan has lived in Clayton for four years, but this is the first time she ventured to enter the cookie contest with her German hazelnut cookies. “My husband made me do it,” she said. It was a family affair, as her daughter Natalie entered with mocha nut balls. While neither took home a top prize, they were a favorite of the crowd, disappearing quickly after the sampling began. “This is a great event,” said first-time attendee Mara Rogers, whose daughter Joanna took home second prize. “Joanna loves making kid-friendly treats, and this was a great experience for her.” So hurry up bakers: there are only 51 more weeks to perfect the perfect holiday treat for next year’s contest.

1/2 cup butter or margarine 12 ounces chopped white baking chocolate 2 eggs, slightly beaten 1/2 cup sugar ¼ teaspoon almond oil 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup strawberry jam ¼ cup Strawberry Jammy Bits (King Arthur Flour) 1/4 cup sliced almonds Preheat oven to 325F. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup of the chocolate pieces (do not stir). Set aside. Grease a 9x9x2-inch baking pan. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Add butter mixture to egg mixture; stir just until combined. Stir in almond oil. In a small bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add flour mixture to egg mixture; stir just until combined. Spread half of the batter into prepared pan. Bake in a 325F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are light-

Second Place, Master Baker Linda Mieczkowski Raspberry Filled White Chocolate Bars 1 c butter 4 c vanilla chips, divided 4 eggs 1 c sugar 2 c flour 1 tsp salt 2 tsp almond extract 1 cup seedless raspberry fruit preserves 1 c sliced almonds Preheat oven to 325F. Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and add 2 cups of the vanilla chips. Let stand, do not stir. In mixer bowl beat the eggs until foamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at high speed until lemon colored. Stir in vanilla chip mixture. Add flour, salt, and almond extract and mix at low speed until blended. Spread 1/2 of the batter in a greased 9”x13” pan. Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

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Stir remaining 2 cups of vanilla chips into remaining batter and set aside. Melt raspberry jam in a saucepan and spread evenly over cooked batter. Gently spoon remaining batter over fruit. (Some fruit may show through). Sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 325 for an additional 30-35 minutes. Test for doneness. Let cool completely and cut into 1” squares. From Buffet on the Bayou (Texas II), but compiled from “Recipe Hall of Fame Dessert Cookbook”, Brownies and Bars.

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ly browned. Remove from oven. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt jam over low heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in Jammy Bits. Spread melted jam mixture evenly over warm crust. Stir the rest of the chocolate pieces into the remaining batter. Drop the batter in small mounds onto the jam filling. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake about 35 minutes more or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and top is lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 16 bars.

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December 20, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 11

finesse at annual cookie contest Third place, Master Baker Jessie Hoppie Christmas Shuggies Sugar Cookie Dough 2 sticks salted butter ¾ cup sugar 3 egg yolks (reserve egg whites for royal icing) 1 tsp vanilla 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking power Preheat oven to 350F. Cream butter and sugar for about 2 min. Then add remaining ingredients until well mixed. Roll out dough to about a ¼ inch thickness. Use desired cookie cutter. This should make approximately 2 dozen cookies (depending on the size of your cookie cutter). Bake at 350 degrees for eight minutes. Allow to cool and add royal icing.

Royal Icing 3 egg whites 4 ½ cups powder sugar ½ tsp cream of tartar ½ tsp vanilla Mix all ingredients until well mixed. Add desired food coloring and frost cookies. Adapted from recipes featured by Williams and Sonoma.

Second Place, Junior Baker Joanna Rogers, 8 Reindeer Cookies 1 cup butter or margarine, softened 1 cup sugar 1 large egg 1 tsp. vanilla 2 tsp. baking powder 3 cups flour Cinnamon and sugar (opt.) Chocolate covered pretzels Eyeball Candies Red spice drops Frosting Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add baking powder and flour one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Dough will be stiff. Do not chill dough. Roll out onto floured surface and cut using an egg shaped cookie cutter. Place each cookie on cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake on middle rack of

oven for 12 minutes or until done. Let cool about one minute and carefully transfer to cool surface. Firmly press 2 chocolate covered pretzels onto each cookie. Allow to cool completely. Dab a small amount of frosting on eyeballs and spice drops to decorate each cookie.

HEADS UP, COOKIE LOVERS. Hopes for the future are high if this generation of bakers is any indication. Pictured with judge Nicole Hackett are Junior Baker winners McKenah Alton (first place), Joanna Rogers (front) and Sara Mieczkowski (third place).

First Place, Junior Baker McKenah Alton, 11 A Little Slice of Heaven Baking spray or parchment paper One box of graham crackers 1 cup butter 1 cup brown sugar 12 oz bag semi sweet chocolate morsels Pre heat oven 350 Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. Cover cookie sheet with a layer of whole graham crackers. In small

Third Place, Junior Baker

saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together. Pour over graham crackers Place cookie sheet in oven for 8 min or until bubbly. Remove from oven, pour 12 oz. bag of semi sweet chocolate morsels on top. Let them melt, then use a flat spatula or knife to spread over graham crackers. Add any topping – sprinkles, crushed candy, etc. Let cookies cool on the cookie sheet. Then place the cookie sheet in the freezer. Break into pieces when frozen and freeze in an airtight container

Sara Mieczkowski, 14 Sara’s Snicker Bars 2 cups chocolate chips, divided ½ cup butterscotch chips, divided ¾ cup creamy peanut butter, divided 1 cup sugar ¼ cup milk ¼ cup butter 1 cup marshmallow cream 1 tsp. vanilla 1 ½ cups dry-roasted peanuts 40 caramels, melted slowly with 4 T water Melt and spread 1 cup chocolate chips, ¼ cup butterscotch chips and ¼ cup peanut butter in a buttered 9” x 13” pan. Let cool. Boil sugar, milk and butter for 5 minutes to soft ball stage. Add marshmallow cream, half the peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over first layer. Sprinkle peanuts over 2nd layer. Melt together caramels and hot water,

and pour over peanuts. Melt 1 cup choc chips, 1/4 butterscotch chips and remaining peanut butter and spread over caramel layer. Cool and cut into squares. From Trinity Lutheran Church Centennial Cookbook (Iowa), but compiled from “Recipe Hall of Fame Dessert cookbook” Brownies and Bars.

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Clayton Pioneer •

December 20, 2013

Sports Undefeated Falcon Pee Wees roll to 13 straight victories JAY BEDECARRÉ Clayton Pioneer

The Clayton Valley Falcons were playing their 12th youth football Pee Wee division game this fall and it was with less than two minutes to go in that game that coach Tony Brigance called for his team to punt for the very first (and only) time this fall. It proved a pivotal decision as the Falcons defense stopped East County Lions’ final offensive attack to keep a perfect record intact with a 22-20 Turkey Bowl victory last month at Monte Vista High School in Danville. A couple of weeks later the Falcons concluded a undefeated 13-0 season by routing Santa Rosa’s unbeaten Redwood PAL Golden Bears 34-0 in the NorCal Championship Bowl. For coach Brigance the 13-0

CV Little League readies for 50th anniversary season with new baseball division for boys, age 13 Clayton Valley Little League is accepting registration of boys and girls for the 2014 baseball and softball season that begins with opening ceremonies Mar. 23. The local youth baseball program will be marking the 50th Anniversary of its 1964 founding and is unveiling a new division for 13-year-old boys called Intermediate 50/70. Little League formed this division recently to address the changing youth baseball landscape where there are many travel teams. The first Little League Intermediate World Series was held last summer in Livermore and will be returning there for the 2014 series. The Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division utilizes a modified field with 50-foot pitching distance and 70-foot base paths. There is leading off for baserunners and each regular game will consist of seven innings. Most travel teams as well as Babe Ruth/Cal Ripkin leagues use 70/50 dimensions. CVLL Intermediate division games will be held at Clayton Community Park. The city of Clayton is putting in new scoreboards there and CVLL will be investing volunteer time, money and materials into the field. Tryouts for baseball teams are scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 11, with softball tryouts on Saturday, Feb. 1. There will be a registration night from 5-8 p.m. at Clayton Valley Library on Wednesday, Jan. 8. Online registrations, as well as more information on CVLL including the boundary map, is at

Photo courtesy CVAA Falcons

IT WAS A FANTASTIC FALL FOR THE CLAYTON VALLEY FALCONS PEE WEE FOOTBALL TEAM that racked up 13 victories in an undefeated season capped by a pair of bowl game wins. Head coach Tony Brigance and his six assistant coaches led their 29 players while being cheered on by the Falcons cheer squad managed by head coach Kelli Brigance. While the football season is over two Falcon cheer squads will be competing in Last Vegas in the new year.

season was a little déjà vu. His dad Doug Brigance was in charge of the 2009 CVAA Pee Wees who also capped a 13-0 season with a pair of bowl game victories. Those two Pee Wee sqauds are the last two Falcon teams to finish with such a lofty record. Tony Brigance found it hard to single out players on the champs but noted that the offense was paced by running backs Parker Allen, Kavika Baumgartner, Justin Lowe and

quarterback Cameron Delmar. The offensive line was anchored by center Julian Rodriguez. The defense allowed only 67 points in 13 games and was led by Zack Martinez, Darrion Bartley, Lance Hackett, Rocky Aven, Jason Lee, Russ Martinez and Sammy Von Felden. “The Turkey Bowl [against East County] was one of the most exciting and emotional games I’ve ever been a part of,” Tony Brigance said of the Dia-

blo Valley Youth Football Conference championship pitting a pair of undefeated teams. Things didn’t start too well for Clayton Valley after the Falcons fumbled on the first play of the game and it was returned for an East County touchdown. Clayton Valley came right back with a TD drive and then the teams exchanged touchdowns for a 14-14 score in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter the Falcons took the lead as a

20-yard pass from Cameron Delmar to Darrion Bartley setting up a Parker Allen 12-yard scoring run. The Falcons added the two-point conversion to go up 22-14. East County was undeterred and scored on a deep pass as time ran out in the first half. The Lions two-point try was blocked by Zack Martinez, which left the score 22-20 at the half. After those offensive fireworks the Falcons coaches “all believed we were going to have

to score 50 points to win the game as both teams scored every time they had the ball. We couldn’t stop them. East County was having their way with our defense and really had us on our heels,” said coach Brigance.” Both teams made halftime defensive adjustments and the second half proved as much about defense as the first was all offense. The fourth quarter began as the Falcons were in the middle of a seven-minute drive only to lose a fumble at the East County two-yard line. East County had the ball back with four minutes to go in the game and down by two points, only to be stopped near midfield by a tough Falcon defensive stand. “We got the ball with two minutes to go in the game and all we needed was one first down to ice it,” the coach explained. Three plays later and after three timeouts by East County it was 4th and 8 for CVAA with a minute and a half to play. That’s were Brigance decided his team would punt for the first time all season and “let my defense do their thing as they have done all year for us.” The punt pinned the Lions back in their own territory with no time outs. Zack Martinez intercepted a desperation pass by the Lions QB giving the Falcons the ball back with 45 seconds to play and victory assured. Pee Wee age levels are 9-12 with a 75-125 pound weight limit. The team outscored its 13 opponents 497-67. The Falcon Jr. Midgets were 6-3 to finish fifth in the DVYFC.

Eagle coaches begin first basketball campaigns JAY BEDECARRÉ Clayton Pioneer

Clayton Valley Charter High School basketball has a new look on the sidelines as Paul Kommer is now running the girls team and Eric Bamberger the boys. The two coaches face different challenges. The Eagles girls have reached the North Coast Section championship game two of the past three years and Kommer is challenged to keep up the pace set by his predecessor, Bernard Barnes. The CVCHS boys have been a mid-table team in recent times and Bamberger will be looking to move his squad up to the top of the Diablo Valley Athletic League as he replaces 10-year headman Troy Sullivan this season. The girls team is without two-time DVAL MVP Ashley Allen and post player Taryn Pascal from the squad that was 342 in league play over the last three years. Only a major injury to 2011 and 2013 league MVP Allen in the 2012 season likely kept the Eagles from three straight DVAL crowns. Barnes surprisingly resigned following

last season after six years in charge of the team and nine overall with the CV girls program. Hailey Pascoe was named first team all-DVAL as a sophomore and second team as a freshman, when she got plenty of playing time with the absence of Allen. She put in 10.5 points per game her first year and 13.9 last season with Allen back in action. A top defender, her offensive repertoire includes a three-point shot as well as driving to the basket. Pascoe has already made a commitment to Division I Lehigh University for the 2015 school year. Post player Kayla Taylor has transformed her game to the point where she runs the court like a guard; but rebounds and finishes like a post player. She is getting some looks from some college coaches as well after averaging about 10 points and 6.5 rebounds a game as a junior. Junior point guard Morgan Giacobazzi saw lots of action as a soph and is also getting interest from some colleges. Coach Kommer expects her “to be one of the (if not the best) allaround point guards in the

league.” Taylor was first-team allDVAL last season while Giacobazzi was second team and Kim Anderson, a senior guard, was honorable mention allleague. Coach Kommer had two big holes to fill with Pascal and Allen departing but has eight returning varsity players, many on their third varsity team. In the off season shooting guard Sarah Williams “worked so hard on her game that she worked her way into the starting lineup this past week and scored 17 points against Deer Valley in the Foundation game.” Anderson has always been one of the team’s best defensive players and rebounders. Jordan Johnson has recovered from an injury and adds depth and experience. Junior post player Katie Kommer and senior guards Katie Osterkamp and Annemarie Delbene all have varsity playing time to call upon this year. New varsity players are seniors Jordan Karmann and Cassidy Woodworth, sophomore Ellie Ralston and freshman Mikaela Keisel. The coach is also pleased that Clayton Valley now has a freshman girls team (the only one in DVAL) allowing more girls to play and get experience in 19 games on their schedule. He adds, “I try to avoid specific expectations for my teams in terms of wins/losses or NCS predictions. I like to think more in terms of ‘how good can we be if we work hard enough to reach our maximum potential.’ So far I am extremely optimistic. My players are working very hard. We have a wealth of maturity and experience. I truly feel that if we stay on this path, and stay healthy, this could be one of

Scott Anderson photo

JUNIOR HAILEY PASCOE has already shown enough on the basketball court to make a verbal commitment to Lehigh University for 2015. The Clayton Valley Eagle was secondteam all-DVAL as a freshman and first team last winter in her sophomore season. New coach Paul Kommer will be counting heavily on her for leadership and strong play on the court.

the best teams Clayton Valley has ever had.” Bamberger has instituted an up tempo style which suits junior shooting forward Jon Allen who has come out firing averaging 24 points a game during the early season while the Eagles split their first six games. Allen was an honorable mention all-league choice last years as a soph. The playing style also means 10-12 players a game are in the rotation. Junior Jacob Lunsford and senior Austin Cannedy are averaging around 10 points while point guard Alex Zavalla is lead-

ing the team in assists. Forward Ryan Boyle rounds out the current starting five. Center Dom Clement gives the team more experience. Senior forward Chris Freeman, junior guard Mike Ihle, sophomore guard Kevin Mahlman and forward Nate Keisel are new to the squad. Freeman and Keisel came out following football season and missed early play with ankle injuries. Sophomores Matt Osterkamp, Andrew Abbett and Keisel along with freshman Bill Ralston had youth to the team.

December 20, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 13

Sports Clayton Valley, Northgate standouts share fall sports DVAL honors JAY BEDECARRÉ Clayton Pioneer

Athletes from Clayton Valley Charter and Northgate high schools shared Diablo Valley Athletic League most valuable player awards for girls and boys water polo and football.

Jason Rogers photo


Tight end/linebacker Jake Smith of Northgate was football MVP and Jax Carter of CVCHS was top lineman for the DVAL season, which the Eagles topped by defeating the Broncos in the last regular-season game. Bronco Liam Williams and Jack Brown of the Eagles were boys’ water polo MVPs while the girls polo award was shared by Sara Abele of Clayton Valley and Hannah Dillon of NG. Carter and Williams are juniors while the other top DVAL honorees are all seniors. League champ Clayton Valley, which lost in the North Coast Section semi-finals, dominated the all-league football squads with six offensive and three defensive players getting first-team laurels. Quarterback Gabe Taylor and junior runningback Miles Harrison relied on linemen Dylan Jue, Brenden Crabbe, Max Connor and Justin Rogers to open the holes for the Eagles running attack. Rogers was named all-DVAL for a third year and Connor for a

second time. Northgate’s only first-team all-DVAL offense winner was Eric Haynes, who racked up huge rushing numbers this year. All-league defense team included Broncos kicker Sam Dale, back Nick Mastrelli and junior lineman Michael Ihejeto. The Eagles defensive firstteam members were Tanner Wraa, lineman Yemi Fashola and junior linebacker Rich Peralta. Tanner Wraa was secondteam all-DVAL last year while his older brother Spencer was a first-team defensive honoree. Eagles head coach Tim Murphy says the 6-3, 250pound Carter “is a going to be really good next year, great kid, hard worker, extremely smart and very athletic!” Carter played a “very physical” defensive tackle and right tackle on offense. Second team all-league for CV were Ben Davis, Ruben Vega, Paul Farr, Griffin Bentley, Ryan Cooper, Zach Dominquez, Shane Morris and junior Justin Zapata. Daniel Ferrell, Michael Nocerino and Brandon Estrada were honorable mention. Northgate second-team allleaguers were quarterback Kyle Austin, Julius Ioane, Tyler Modlin, Floyd Armenta and Steven Cuneo while Jeremy Lee, Alim Margiyev and Kyle Muller were honorable mention.

Scott Anderson photo


Sports Shorts CVCHS BASEBALL HOST SECOND HOT STOVE DINNER JAN. 10 Clayton Valley Charter High School baseball coach Casey Coakley is hosting the second annual Hot Stove Dinner on Friday, Jan. 10. The evening’s festivities will whet the appetite of baseball fans, Clayton Valley alumni and current CVCHS families in the cold winter months before spring training starts again. There will be lots of baseball talk with guest speakers Tom DiMercurio and Bob Johnson, other Clayton Valley coaches past and present and former Eagle players who went on to college and professional careers. Door prizes, raffles and dinner all benefit CVCHS Baseball and its scholarship fund. The event is from 6-9:30 p.m. at Shadelands Civic Arts Center, 111 N. Wiget Ln. at Ygnacio Valley Rd. in Walnut Creek. For more information and to buy tickets at $40 each email coach Coakley at

OAKHURST ORCAS SIGNUPS FOR 2014 UPCOMING Oakhurst Orcas summer recreation swim team registra-

tion dates are Mar. 12 and Apr. 11 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Oakhurst Country Club. Early registration discounts are available before March 12. Information is available at

YOUTH BASEBALL CLINIC JAN. 2-3 AT CVCHS Clayton Valley Charter High School head coach Casey Coakley will conduct a Preseason Youth Baseball Clinic Jan. 2-3 at the school. This is an opportunity to youth baseball players to get ready for upcoming tryouts and the 2014 season. It’s also a chance for future CVCHS Eagles to work with the school’s coaching staff and team. Boys and girls five – 14 can participate. The sessions are 9 a.m.noon. Cost is $60. Email Coakley at for a registration form.

DIABLO FC SOCCER TRYOUTS FOR 2014 TEAMS BEGIN FEB. 1 Tryouts for girls and boys Diablo FC competitive teams in the under 9 through U14 age groups will be held in February. Players born between Aug. 1,

Scott Anderson photo


WATER POLO STARS Jack Brown is co-MVP for the second year in a row and garnered all-league honors for the fourth successive season. The Eagle senior was first-team all-DVAL as a sophomore and honorable mention in 2010 during his freshman year. His co-MVP Williams will have a chance to match Brown’s two MVPs next fall for the Broncos as he anchors the team in goal. It is the fourth year in a row that CVCHS has had a boys DVAL water polo MVP (Christo Lopez in 2011 and Kenny Johnson in 2010). First-team all-DVAL for Clayton Valley were Kenny Cuneo (a repeat pick), Grant Meylan, Max Renner and Jordan Tate. Garrett Blatter and Tanner White were second team and Liam Calkins and sophomore Scott Meylan honorable mention. For Northgate, Brayden Levy and junior repeat selections Mason Tittle and Michael Wardle are first-team all-DVAL. Juniors Jace Cropper and Calvin Kirkpatrick were second team and classmates Tate Lloyd and Phil Stahl honorable mention. The Broncos figure to be big favorites next fall with seven returning players on the allleague list. Abele was named first-team all-DVAL water polo for the

2000 and July 31, 2006 can try out for teams in Concord. U9U11 tryouts are Feb. 1-9 while the U12-U14 age groups will hold sessions Feb. 22-Mar. 2. There is no cost to try out and players can register in advance online at

MORE YOUTH, ADULT PROGRAMS COMING TO CLAYTON GYM A variety of programs at Clayton Community Gym are taking signups now through All Out Sports League. Blaze AAU basketball tryouts are this Saturday and Blaze travel baseball tryouts for 11u-12u are Jan. 4. Youth hip hop and jazz classes are every Monday for 5-16 yearolds. Zumba classes are Wednesday and Friday at 6 p.m. Registration for 2014 spring basketball academy and t-ball is open. For complete information on all programs, visit

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES WINTER ACADEMY RETURNS IN JANUARY San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer and Diablo FC are holding the 13th annual Regional Development School Winter Soccer Academy on Mondays and Thursdays Jan. 16-Feb. 27 under the lights at Willow Pass Park in Concord

third successive time. Her CVCHS senior classmate Kim Anderson and junior teammates Sara Johnson and Katie Van Tuyl were first-team all-league while Katie Kommer, Vanessa Parham and Quincy Winship were second team. Northgate’s Dillon was second-team last year and league co-MVP with Abele this fall. Four Broncos were first-team including sophomores Marisa DeMeo and Tatum Turetzky while upper classmen Daniella Sugijanto and Isabella Blaney Cuevas rounded out the firstteam NG selections. Emma Lyon and Zoe Ramia were second team for the league champs.

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Danny Condon of Clayton Valley took second at the DVAL championship meet to earn first-team all-league honors. His sophomore teammate Sayed Opeyany was second team while Josh Rosen, Kyle Metz and Eduardo Wence were honorable mention. The Eagles finished second to College Park at the league meet. For the fourth-place Broncos, Isaac Schick was second team and Laurence Seabrook and Jake Egley honorable mention. Northgate won the DVAL girls cross country title with CVCHS runner-up. Caitlyn Mundrane, Megan Coyle and freshman Jessica Boucher were top 5 finishers and first-team all DVAL. Aino Tanaka and Kelsey Blough were second team for the league champs. Frosh standout Natalie Ruzicka was fourth overall for Clayton Valley and joined Kyra Ortiz as Eagles on first-team allDVAL. Lindsay Mondloch and another freshman, Sarah Verderame, were second team while soph Sarah Carrico was honorable mention, giving the Eagles four returning all-league runners for 2014.

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Clayton Pioneer •

December 20, 2013


Aioli and Zandy are ARF’s stars

2013: Busy sports year with fewer highs than in 2012 JAY BEDECARRÉ Clayton Pioneer


5-year-old Aioli is a fun-loving, energetic girl who adores toys, and can entertain herself with a soft squeaky toy for hours! She is smart, athletic, friendly, and outgoing— the whole package. Aioli is a social butterfly who would love to be your new wingman on all types of adventures, including hiking, camping, Saturday soccer games, or dog sports like rally or noseworks. We suggest taking this brilliant gal through a Basic Manners class to give her a con-

ppy Holiday a s H


structive outlet for her energy, and to help ease her transition into her new home. Aioli’s prospective adopters will need to meet with a trainer before taking her home. The adoption fee for adult dogs is $225 and includes 60% off one 7-week dog training session. 2-year-old Zandy is a pretty girl with a lovely personality. She will meow for your affection and sit close for lots of pets. It is unknown whether Zandy has previous experience with children. She is suitable for a first time cat guardian. The adoption fee for adult cats is $50.

Meet your forever friend at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, 2890 Mitchell Drive, Walnut Creek, during adoption hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The primary caretaker must be present to adopt. ARF also encourages kids 16 and younger and canine family members (dog adoptions only) to be present during the adoption process. Would you like to be part of the heroic team that saves the lives of rescued dogs and cats? Can you share your talents to connect people and animals? ARF volunteers are making a difference! For more information see our website,, or call 925.256.1ARF.

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clicking, but much faster, and in most cases, easier. Still, talking about computers, most people are aware that touch screen options are new to computers. While the tablet and smartphone business have all been embracing touch for years, computers have been slow to adopt the technology, up until now. The cost of touch has always been a factor, but due to new technologies the price for large screen touch has plummeted. Last year we saw touch screen monitors at around $500; this year they are less than $200. In fact, the least expensive way to incorporate the touch screen experience is to purchase a laptop/notebook that includes a touch screen. Last year laptops/notebooks with touch

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screens cost more than $1,000. This year the price for similar touch screens has dropped to just above $600. Of course the cost of touch screen will continue to come down until everything on the market includes it. But the largest price decrease has happened just in the last 60 days. Now is the best time to purchase touch. Microsoft’s recent release of Windows 8.1 is just the latest push by large-scale computing business to position itself in the touch screen initiative. By the way, once you learn the touch screen features on one platform, it is the same interaction on others, like tablets and smartphones. May I suggest the newest Asus C500 Ultrabook (notebook) as a great holiday choice? It has everything featured in my articles over the last six months — features you will like, such as a 15.6-inch touch screen, ultrathin notebook form, full-featured keyboard with 10-key, solid state drive (SSD), largecapacity hard drive, Windows 8.1, Intel i5 CPU, and 6 GB of RAM. Oh, by the way, it costs under $700. Just a quick note: The Google Chromebook is not a real computer, so beware before you buy it. William Claney is an independent tech writer and former owner of Computers USA in the Clayton Station. Email questions or comments to

When we wrote the Pioneer’s 2012 sports review there were a number of unprecedented events including the dual bronze medals of local Olympians Kara Kohler and Kristian Ipsen, the first North Coast Section football championship for Clayton Valley Charter High School, the Amgen Tour of California wheeling through town plus a number of other team and individual achievements. The list of 2013 sports highlights is just as long but without some of the highs that dotted the previous year’s calendar, none more so than for Ipsen and Kohler. POST-OLYMPICS IPSEN, KOHLER By most athletes’ standards Ipsen and Kohler did quite well this year, thank you. Ipsen was the NCAA diver of the year after winning the one- and three-meter collegiate championships and took second in the 10 meter. He essentially took the year off from synchro diving following the Olympics but qualified for the FINA World Championships in Barcelona in the 1M and 3M. At Worlds Ipsen managed 12th place in the 3M but had a couple missed dives in each competition that substantially lowered his placements. Kohler was named all-America for the third time but more importantly helped her Cal Bears varsity eight to a national title. She then was part of the USA quadruple sculls team at the World Championships this summer in South Korea but her squad finished out of the medals when they caught a “crab” in the home stretch of the finals.

CLAYTON VALLEY CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL DOINGS So much was going on at the new charter school on Alberta Way with many comings and goings topping the list. The school used money from Mt. Diablo Unified School District Measure C to install a new black synthetic field for football, soccer and lacrosse over the holiday break last year. Then in the summer they installed a new running track. Coaching changes included new athletic director Amber Lineweaver, who took over this school year, and almost half the head coaching jobs at the school. The changes included a substantial number of on-campus coaches, one of the goals when the charter school began in 2012. The Clayton Valley Athletic Hall of Fame inducted its third class during 2013 with coaches, athletes and community leaders from the 1960s-1990s joining two previous classes for the honor hall that began during the school’s 50th anniversary year in 2008. CVHS Hall of Famer Bob Thomason retired after a 25year basketball coaching career at University of the Pacific on national television as his team competed in the NCAA Tournament. The girls basketball and softball teams lost North Coast Section championship games year while the baseball and football team fell in the NCS semi-finals. This fall’s football season began with Clayton Valley losing 34-14 to De La Salle in a Concord matchup of the Division 1 and D2 section champions from the previous season. Numerous Eagle athletes earned all-league and DVAL MVP awards. CV LITTLE LEAGUE TURNS 50 Last spring’s opening of the Clayton Valley Little League season was very special with the youth baseball organization

marking its 50th year. The family of founding president Mack McCarty was on hand for the ceremonies. The season culminated with the CVLL junior softball all-star team winning the District 4 championship and reaching the NorCal championships. DANA HILLS GETS 21ST One thing that barely changes from year to year is the Dana Hills Swim Team. The Otters won their 21st Concord Swimming Championship in 22 years. New head coach John Tsubota saw his team then place fifth at the Contra Costa County Meet while setting three meet records and having three highpoint swimmers. DIABLO FC ALIGN WITH SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES Local competitive youth soccer club, Diablo Futbol Club, became part of two prestigious programs this year. It became the landmark first Youth Development Alliance affiliate with the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer, bringing a variety of resources to boys and girls playing in Diablo FC and Earthquakes Regional Development School program. Diablo FC was awarded a US Soccer Development Academy U13/U14 team for elite players who commit to a year-round training program. Diablo FC had a pair of girls teams win US Club Soccer Regional championships and its U12 boys traveled to Kansas City for the VW Jr. Masters National Championships. 13-0 FALCONS ARE NO PEE WEES Reaching perfection is not easy in any sport but the Clayton Valley Falcons football team won all 13 games it played this fall (see story on page 12) including winning the annual Turkey Bowl and then the Northern California championship.

Offseason moves bolster Oakland A’s TYLER LEHMAN SPORTS TALK Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane has been a very, very busy man this offseason. Over the past month and a half the A’s have been involved in numerous trades and even a free agent acquisition and in the process, have strengthened their bullpen and replaced some key members of their starting rotation. The A’s kicked off their busy offseason by signing free agent Scott Kazmir. The A’s signed Kazmir to a two-year, $22 million deal, and he will be replacing outgoing free agent pitcher Bartolo Colon, who landed with the Mets. Kazmir is a solid lefthanded pitcher, who last year finished with 10 wins and an ERA of 4.04. Kazmir can be an extremely dominant pitcher when he is top of his game, locating the strike zone with pin-point accuracy that can lead to numerous strikeouts and very few walks. Kazmir will fit nicely into the A’s starting rotation, and although

he probably will not have the numbers next year that Colon had this year, he is still a great acquisition for the A’s. Along with Kazmir the A’s have also added pitchers Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson, and Drew Pomeranz through various trades. The A’s were able to acquire relief pitcher Johnson from the Orioles by trading second base prospect Jemile Weeks. Weeks seemed to have fallen out of favor with the Oakland A’s organization, as he spent most of last season in Triple-A despite the fact that the A’s had issues at second base all season long. Johnson is a fantastic acquisition for the A’s, as he has had the most total saves in baseball over the past two years. Granted, he blew nine saves out of 59 opportunities last year, but he has been very consistent over his career. Johnson is a low-risk, high-reward player because he only has one year left on his contract. The A’s will pay him $10 million next season, and if he turns out to be the closer they are hoping for, then great; if not, they just let him walk next offseason. Johnson isn’t the only relief pitcher the A’s traded for this

offseason. They have also acquired right-handed relief pitcher Gregerson form the San Diego Padres, in exchange for outfielder Seth Smith. This trade has been by far the best for the A’s this offseason because they acquire a top tier set-up man in Gregerson, and in exchange they send over an average outfielder in Smith. Gregerson bolsters an already stacked bullpen, making the A’s bullpen one of the best in baseball. Some other trades of note for the A’s are the deals that got them pitcher Pomeranz and outfielder Craig Gentry. Gentry came over from Texas in exchange for outfield prospect Michael Choice. Gentry is a fourth outfielder and should fit in nicely with the A’s. Pomeranz was traded by the Colorado Rockies in exchange for pitcher Brett Anderson. The A’s have been very busy this offseason, and it is clear that GM Beane wants the green and gold competing for the World Series next season. Tyler Lehman is a sophomore at Diablo Valley College and a 2012 CVHS graduate. He plans to major in journalism and wants to be a sports writer. Email your comments or questions to

December 20, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Deck your family and friends’ halls with festive and fun holiday gifts

Bike Briones for steep thrills





Briones Regional Park is awesome for mountain biking, and I love riding right now, before it gets too muddy and I have to get back to road biking. The best times of year to ride are spring, when the trails dry out, and fall, when the days are cooler. If riding in summer, head out early in the day before it gets too hot. Winter is bound to be muddy, but the views are amazing after rains wash smog from the sky. The park is prettiest in midApril, with lush green hills covered with vibrant wildflowers. Indian Paintbrush, California Poppies, Lupines and Fiddlenecks, paint the hillsides with color. In the hills’ damp creases are Buckeye, California Bay, Elderberry Trees and Poison Oak. There are five major access points to Briones; the two most developed are the Alhambra Creek Valley Staging Area off Reliez Valley Road near Martinez, and the Bear Creek Road Staging Area near Orinda and Lafayette. Riding in Briones will test your strength and endurance with more than 6,000 acres in the rolling East Bay hills between Berkeley and Walnut Creek. The views of Lafayette Reservoir, Benicia Bay, and Mt. Diablo are magnificent with Briones Peak the highest point in the park at an elevation of 1,483 feet. Don’t let the low elevation fool you. The climbs are steep, long, and the descents can be fast. Don’t roll too quickly around corners because you may find a cow in your path! THE LOOP One of my favorite loops to ride begins at the Alhambra Creek staging area. Start on the

Alhambra Creek trail towards Spengler Trail. Climbing up the Old Briones Road, take a left on Briones Crest Trail and continue onto Tabletop, which puts you on the Briones Crest Trail for a moment. Take a right on the Crescent Ridge Trail and a sharp right on Yerba Buena. You will take a left on the Valley Trail that will run into old Briones Road Trail, taking you toward the Bear Creek Staging Area. From there

Page 15

climb Abrigo Valley Trail to coyotes, cougars, fox, bobcat, Briones Crest and begin to drop Red Tailed Hawks, snakes and back down to Spengler and your the California Newt. starting point of Alhambra A fee of $3 for parking and Creek Trail. $2 for dogs is collected at This approximately 10-mile Alhambra and Bear Creek stagJENNIFER LEISCHER loop has a lot of climbing, and ing areas when kiosk is staffed. DESIGN & DÉCOR there are many trails off this route that can be taken to shortI don’t know about you, but Sharon Anderson is a Clayton en or lengthen this ride. Make sometimes holiday gifting can resident and lifelong hiker. This is the sure you take a map, available at really be a tedious task. It doessecond of a four-part series on hiking the staging area. If you are lucky n’t matter how well you know in the Sierras. you will enjoy deer, wild turkeys, your best friend, your co-worker, your mom or dad, thinking of and then tracking down the perfect holiday gift for the people in your life may force you to spike the eggnog. Perhaps, instead of trying to find a great tie for your dad or festive necklace for your best friend, consider gifts for the home. Whether the gift is purely holiday related, something homemade or something intended to be a permanent decorative fixture, sharing gifts that have to do with “home” is a great way to celebrate the holiday season.

Mesquite chips, Kinder’s Barbecue Sauce, a “manly apron, barbecue cookbook, and maybe even a personalized forged steak brand with your dad’s initials. Garden Lover. Basket Ingredients: A knee pad for weeding, a pair of gloves, a variety of spring bulbs, a book on gardening for Northern California, and to top it all off, a poinsettia.

Don’t get hung up on oldies hanging in your closet


FASHION OVER 50 Remember the old days before expiration dates were stamped on foods? You’d go to clean out the refrigerator and there was no telling what you’d find under the lid of the cottage cheese. With expiration dates on food, there’s no reason to lift a lid to see what’s growing there. All you have to do is look at the date. Granted, some foods last longer than what’s stamped on the carton, but generally you know when it’s time to dump the last of the milk or toss the brick of cheese before it grows a fur coat. If only it was that easy to recognize clothes that have gone bad. Instead, clothes hang around like a bad smell – sometimes for decades. People have many hang-ups about letting go of clothes. I can see it in myself. I have an Armani pantsuit I bought in the early 1990s that I

can’t bear to part with. And don’t get me started about men. My husband has a puffy leather bomber jacket from the 1980s that he just won’t give up. No matter what, most old clothes don’t get better with age; they just get more antiquated. If you are not convinced that your clothes are outdated, you might make a New Year’s resolution to take a few pieces to a consignment store. When the clerk hands back your favorite blazer and you protest – “But its cashmere?” or “I’ve only worn it a couple of times.” – you’ll get the picture. Savvy shoppers who peruse consignment stores aren’t going to want your cherished oldies. The thing about expired clothes is that everyone else can see it so much faster than you can. Sure, some styles do get

recycled, but there is always something not quite the same in the new version – different fabric, new details, etc. In a perfect world, clothes would come with expiration dates sewn into them. But until then, it’s time to face the truth about those clothes that have expired. Pass them on through charities such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army where they will serve someone else. Time for you to move on. I wonder if my husband will notice his leather jacket is missing the next time he looks in the closet? As for donating my pantsuit; maybe next Spring. Happy Holidays! Judith Marshall is the author of “Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever.” Send comments to

FESTIVE HOLIDAY GIFTS During the holidays, many retailers offer all sorts of holiday accessories from pillows and throws to serving pieces and table top décor, and everything in between. A festive gift for just about anyone would be something holiday-related, like a red velvet pillow with an embroidered sleigh, a pillow covered in sequence with jingle bells on the corners, an ivory throw with metallic threads, or a big serving tray lined with gingerbread figures. These sorts of gifts are fun to give. They are specific to the upcoming holidays and in time, will become traditions as friends and family bring them out each year to enjoy. HOME MADE GIFT BASKETS Gift baskets have the ability to solve many holiday gifting dilemmas. In a gift basket, you can include everything from wine and chocolate to kids books and Santa cookies. They can be tailored to anyone’s age, anyone’s interests and put together one any budget. A couple of ideas: The avid Barbecue master. Basket Ingredients: Tongs,

HOME DÉCOR GIFTS If you’re looking to purchase something a little more personal for a friend or family member, you don’t have to steal their living room pillow to make sure you get the colors right for whatever you have in mind. Think bigger picture, literally: a framed photo. Sometimes finding a beautiful frame can be a very special gift, especially when the photo is a group family photo, or a bunch of friends screaming “cheese!” Framed memories are always a cherished gift. Elegantly crafted table linens with coordinating napkins for your mom who is constantly hosting Sunday dinner, a beautiful Lucite tray with chrome handles for your friend who loves to serve tea, a set of handcrafted wine or champagne glasses for your dad, the wine enthusiast; thinking about the particular interests that your family and friends may have can lead you in the right direction when selecting the perfect holiday gift. Jennifer Leischer is the owner of J. Designs Interior Design based in Clayton. Contact her with questions, comments and suggestions at


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Page 16

Clayton Pioneer •

December 20, 2013


IN CLAYTON Thru Dec. 31 A Heart for Christmas Walk through a winter wonderland of lasers, snow machines and over 30,000 lights on one acre of property. Rain cancels. 5 – 9 p.m. Weekends 5 – 11 p.m. 1185 Pine Lane, Clayton. Free. Donations requested for Children’s Organ Transplant Association and Ronald McDonald Dental Care Mobile. First Thursdays Oakhurst Business Network Meets first Thursday of the month for social hour. Hosted hors d’oeuvres, cash bar. 6 – 7:30 p.m. Oakhurst Country Club, 1001 Peacock Creek Drive, Clayton.

IN CONCORD Tuesdays Farmers’ Market Tuesdays year round, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Todos Santos Plaza, downtown Concord. Thru Christmas Mr. Christmas See 50,000 lights celebrating 35 years of creative holiday light decorations at Mr. Christmas’ house. 6 – 10 p.m. 5208 Olive Dr., Concord. Free.

ON THE MOUNTAIN 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. Dec. 21 Winter Solstice Saunter Celebrate the shortest day of the year by hiking up one of Mount Diablo’s shortest satellite spurs, Twin Peaks. 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Meet at Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center. Reservations required: Jan. 5 Round the Mountain Hike Views in all directions as we circle the park’s namesake peak, Mt. Diablo. 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Meet at Juniper Camp Trailhead. Save Mount Diablo programs listed are free unless otherwise noted. Go to and click on Activities/Guided Hikes for more information. 947-3535. Dec. 21 Post Fire Hike Join professional botanist and SMD Board Member Heath Bartosh on a tour to better understand the post-fire impacts to the chaparral plant community. Moderately difficult hike. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Meet at SMD’s Wright Canyon property, 4390 Morgan Territory Road, Clayton. Registration required: 947-3535 or

EVENTS & ENTERTAINMENT Thru Dec. 22 “A Christmas Carol” Brimming with music and dance, love and laughter and scary ghosts. Performed by Center REP. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $41-$49. 9437469.

Dec. 21 - 22 “The Nutcracker” Performed by The Ballet Company of East County. 12 and 4 p.m. El Campanil Theatre, 602 W. Second St., Antioch. $16$20. Dec. 22 “The Three Musketeers” A fun musical version performed in Russian by the Russian Drama Club. Minimum age is 5. 4:15 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $17. 943-7469. Dec. 23 Home for the Holidays Holiday-themed program for families with the California Symphony and special guests Pacific Boychoir. 7:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $15$65. 943-7469. Dec. 28 Worst of Durst Big Fat Year End Kiss Off Comedy Show XXI. Satirical sketches of news stories in 2013 with stand-up comedy and improvisation. 8 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $22-$25. 943-7469. Starting Jan. 9 Ham Radio Licensing Course Learn everything you need to earn your technician class FCC Amateur Radio License. Sponsored by The Salvation Army and Mt. Diablo Amateur Radio Club. 7 weeks. 7 – 9 p.m. The Salvation Army, 3950 Clayton Road, Concord. Materials and textbook fees. Registration required. 465-9554.

Jan. 19 Anniversaries and Tributes Performed by the California Symphony. 4 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $15-$65. 943-7469. Jan. 31 – Feb. 1 Emotions Into Movement Performed by Diablo Ballet. Shadelands Art Center, 111 N. Wiget Lane, Walnut Creek. $24-$39. Jan. 31 – Mar. 1 “Clybourne Park” Jokes fly and hidden agendas unfold as two different generations tip-toe the dance of social politics. Performed by Center REP. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $39-$57. 943-7469.

CHURCHES AND RELIGION Dec. 21 A Radio City Music Hall Christmas Come sing your favorite carols and listen to some great music. 7:30 p.m. The Salvation Army Concord Community Church, 3950 Clayton Road, Concord. Free. Contact Susan: or 676-6180, ext. 21.


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Wednesdays Book Buddies A volunteer will read stories for children 3 and older. 1 - 2 p.m. Call in advance. Thursdays, Jan. 9 – Mar. 6 Picture Book Time Story time for 3- to 5-year-olds. Child may attend without caregiver. 11 a.m. Jan. 13 Clayton Book Club Sunny Solomon leads the discussion of “The House Girl” by Tara Conklin. Open to anyone who would like to join. 7 p.m. The Concord Library is at 2900 Salvio St. or 6465455.

Jan. 6 Movie Night Come see a G or PG movie. Kids 5 – 11. 7 p.m.

Jan. 3 ARF Comedy Night 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.

Tuesdays, Jan. 7 – Mar. 4 Patty Cakes Story time for babies to 3-year-olds. Child attends with caregiver. 11 a.m.

Jan. 18 Comedy Variety Show Moonie and Broon. 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $15-$23. 943-7469.

Thru Dec. 28 “A Christmas Carol” True to the spirit of Charles Dickens’ timeless story of redemption with a playful sensibility to his rich language. American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary St., San Francisco. (415) 749-2228.

Arts & & Crafts Crafts kitchen! kitchen! Arts

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

Dec. 21 Computers and Technology If you need help with your mouse, come to our house. Drop-in assistance to learn how to use computers, smart phones and tablets. 12 - 2 p.m. Additional dates and times offered. Check library calendar.

Thru December Food Drive Drop off canned food on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. KinderCare, 6095 Main St., Clayton. 672-9370.

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Jan. 14 Forever Tango Featuring 14 dancers accompanied by an 11-piece accordion and string orchestra. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $69. 943-7469.

Thru Dec. 22 “The Biggest Gift” Join the fun and laughter as Tucker the Elf and the toys set out to save Christmas. Performed by Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $14. 943-7469.

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Jan. 8 All Ears Reading Adults with disabilities read to furry friends from ARF. 1 p.m. Jan. 13 LEGO and Listen Listen to a recorded book while building with LEGO blocks. Ages 6 – 12. 7 p.m. Registration required.

SCHOOLS Thru Jan. 29 Open Enrollment Enrollment for Clayton Valley Charter High School is open through Jan. 29 at 4 p.m. Eighth grade Parent Information Night is Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. Academy Information meeting is Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. 682-7474.

GOVERNMENT 1st and 3rd Tuesdays Clayton City Council 7 p.m. Hoyer Hall, Clayton Library, 6125 Clayton Road. 6737304 or 2nd and 4th Tuesdays Clayton Planning Commission 7 p.m., Hoyer Hall, Clayton Library, 6125 Clayton Road. 6737304 or 1st, 2nd and 4th Tuesdays, except Dec. 24 Concord City Council 6:30 p.m., Council Chamber, Concord Civic Center, 1950 Parkside Dr.

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

December 20, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 17

Club News

Clayton Valley Woman’s Club

Clayton Valley Garden Club Clayton’s Daffodil Hill will bloom bigger and brighter than ever this spring. Early last month, 16 volunteers from the Clayton Valley Garden Club donated and planted another 500 bulbs on Clayton’s gateway at Clayton and Marsh Creek Roads. The volunteers worked in production line fashion to plant bulbs, using an electric clay spade to dig and finishing each hole by hand. Each trumpet yellow bulb was accompanied to their hole with some bone meal and covered with soil mix and mulch. The Clayton Valley Garden Club meets at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month, February through November, at Diamond Terrace, 6401 Center St., Clayton. For more information, go to

Teenspeak, from page 8 served free hot chocolate, cookies and other tantalizing treats to any crammers who needed a sweet break from studying. Flyers and packets with a comprehensive list of study suggestions and test-taking tips were available for all students. To ensure the success in every classroom, each Cocoa and Cram day corresponded to a different subject. Teachers from all grade levels remained on standby, ready to dispel pre-exam anxiety and offer students last minute tutoring. Fortunately, surviving finals is not quite as apocalyptic as it seems. Thanks to the success of the new Cocoa and Cram program, students can ensure their own success on final exams. Sometimes extra study time, a little hot chocolate, and shelter from the winter weather is all it takes to revive stressed teens at CVCHS back into the land of the living. Robbie Parker is a junior at Clayton Valley Charter High School. Send comments to

Buzz Bertolero, the as the “Dirt Gardener.” “Dirt Gardener,” to He writes a weekly syndiSpeak at Clayton Valley cated gardening column Woman’s Club January and is an executive at Meeting Navlet’s Garden Centers. The Clayton Valley Woman’s Club invites The Clayton Valley guests to attend their Woman’s Club meets at 10 monthly meeting on a.m. on the second Tuesday of BUZZ Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, BERTOLERO the month at Holy Cross to hear Buzz Bertolero Lutheran Church, 1092 speak about gardening issues. A Alberta Way, Concord. For more well-known Bay Area gardening information, call 672-9448 or go to personality, Buzz is also known

Christmas Eve Services CLAYTON VALLEY GARDEN CLUB MEMBERS Ben Shikano, Nick Caspar, Steve Lane, Valerie Austin, Alyce Shikano, Erik Ortiz, Ingela Nielsen, Michelle Ortiz and Bruce Balha expect a show of nearly 1000 daffodil blooms in the spring

at St.John’s Episcopal Church 5555 Clayton, Rd., Clayton December 24 5:00 p.m. Children's Service & Pageant All children are welcome to take part. “Wear your own costume or share ours.” 8:00 p.m. Family Candlelight Service

Church News St. Bonnie’s sends typhoon aid St. Bonaventure Community immediately responded to the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in the Leyte province of the Philippines with much-needed supplies. St. Bonaventure’s priest in residence, Fr. Ronan Rances, is from Bato, an outlying town in the Leyte province. His family

lives there and partnered with the St. Bonaventure Community and a local parish to take up a collection and provide financial support in less than two weeks of the tragedy. Fr. Rances’ family ordered food and medical supplies backed by the donations. Because of the devastation on

And at our sister church…

St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church Leyte, the supplies were shipped from Cebu. Using the family trucks from their farm, they transported the supplies to the Rances’ compound. The supplies were organized and driven to the further outlying regions approximately three hours away where larger aid organizations had not yet reached. To make a donation, write check payable to St. Bonaventure Church, Philippines Disaster, and send to St. Bonaventure, 5562 Clayton Road, Concord, CA 94521. For more information, call the Parish Office at 672-5800.

Knights of Columbus announce poster and essay competitions A VOLUNTEER COOKS FOOD FOR OTHER VOLUNTEERS and any family in need. The buckets are stocked with enough nonperishable food and medical supplies to help a family of four for one week.

Northgate, from page 8 starting from 8 a.m. to noon and started up again from 3 to 8 p.m.,” senior sports med student Thuan Le said. “We always prepare for if someone goes down. They rely on us and we’re doing our best to help. We’re committed.” Sports medicine trainers attend practices and games for most school sports teams, and their pursuit and commitment to safety and the health of others was worthy of award. Congressman Miller, a top Democrat on House Education Committee, saw Northgate as the ideal embodiment of his bill introduced earlier this week.

o Join Ursatte b Cele rth! His Bi

“This is a wonderful recognition for Northgate High School,” said Miller. “And I’m excited to be here as we unveil new guidelines to assist teachers in accommodating students in the classroom after their injury. We need to make sure that all students around the nation get the same care as Northgate students, which is why I’m glad to see more and more momentum to pass legislation introduced in Congress this week to help improve concussion safety for student athletes across the country. Northgate understands being a ‘student athlete’ needs to be as much about the

‘student’ as the ‘athlete.’ They’ve taken that step, now it’s time for the rest of the nation to move in that direction as well.” With media coverage of Miller’s visit and introduction of the award extending from reports in local newspapers all the way to Capitol Hill, in Washington D.C., Northgate’s sports med program is more nationally recognized than any high school in the nation. Ivar Laanen is a senior at Northgate High School. The “Dutch speaking, German born man with a Swedish name” has a passion for journalism and enjoys turning events and ideas into stories freshly printed in newspapers. Contact him at

2925 Bonifacio St., Concord December 24 10:30 p.m. Christmas Carol Sing 11:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Service December 25 10:00 a.m. Christmas Day Family Service

Celebrate Christmas


Concord United Methodist Church 1645 West Street, Concord 94521

Christmas Sunday, Dec. 22 One Service “What Sweeter Music” 10:00 a.m. A Festival of Carols Chancel Choir, Orchestra, and Children’s Choir

Christmas Eve, Dec. 24 5:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m.

The Knights of Columbus invite students ages 8-14 to enter the Substance Abuse Awareness Poster art competition for the topics of Drugs and Alcohol. Local winners can advance to the international level. Deadline for entries is Jan. 25, 2014. The essay competition gives young writers an opportunity to compete at the local, regional, state and international levels. The Knights of Columbus St Bonaventure Council State/Supreme competition is open to all students, grades 8 through 12. The topic is “The Importance of Religious Freedom.” Cash awards are given at the council, regional, state and supreme levels of competition. Deadline for the essay competition is Jan. 31, 2014. For entry forms and info, contact Claire Tryon, youth director for the St. Bonaventure Council 6038, 673-8564,

Family Service Traditional Service

A Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord!

Tuesday, Dec. 24 Candlelight Lessons & Carols Service @ 7 PM

5554 Clayton Rd., Concord (in the CC Farm Bureau building)

(925) 524-0295

For more information, go to

2013 CHRISTMAS SCHEDULE Christmas Eve Masses Tuesday, December 24 3 PM

Early Childhood Christmas Pageant & Mass 5:30 PM Children’s Christmas Pageant & Mass 8 PM Christmas Vigil Mass 11 PM Christmas Midnight Mass

We offer dining, social events, cooking classes, live music, heated pool, swim, tennis & golf lessons!

It’s time to join! Contact us for a tour and lunch at the club.

8 AM English 10 AM English 12:45 PM Spanish *No 5 PM Mass

St. Bonaventure Catholic Church 5562 Clayton Road, Concord

Golf, sport and social memberships are available Banquet facilities are available for your special occasion

Christmas Day Masses Wednesday, December 25

Oakhurst Country Club (925) 672-9737 ext. 205


Page 18

Clayton Pioneer •

December 20, 2013

Pioneer Guide to Holiday Shopping

Clayton Furniture, Inc. Lowest Prices Guaranteed

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Nichols Landscape As the owner and operator of Nichols Landscape, established in 1979, I create beautifully sculpted yards suited to a homeowner’s taste and budget. When we are on your job, it is our only job. We specialize in custom design that includes pavers, night lighting, drip irrigation, decks, arbors, lawns and retaining walls. See ad page 11.

Becky Walker at Permanent Solution Happy Holidays! Give the gift of pampering during this busy season – to you, a friend or a loved one. Becky at Permanent Solution is ready with tons of holiday colors and






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sparkle Gelish to make your fingers and toes festive. She is available Tuesday through Saturday for manicures, pedicures and gift certificates. (925) 640-8995

Clayton Furniture There’s no place like home for the holidays and Clayton Furniture has everything to make that home comfy, cozy and inviting. One of the oldest furniture businesses in Contra Costa, the store is family owned and operated since 1988. Clayton Furniture’s success is built on service, integrity and value.

service to the entire Bay Area. Whether you are looking to purchase a new or pre-owned vehicle, seeking auto parts or service, we invite you to experience our state-of-the-art facility and award-winning hospitality. We are the Bay Area's oldest franchised General Motors dealership and service all GM brands, including Cadillac, Chevrolet and Saturn. We look forward to seeing you; stop on by!

Bella Mia Spa

Concord United Methodist Church

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Looking for that “just right” church? Join us throughout the month of December to see if our vision of living the Christian life in the modern world resonates with you. We serve our local community in worship and work, support and song. Come get to know us! See ad, page 17.

Lehmer’s Concord Buick GMC Low Prices. Premium Customer Service. Since 1928.

Welcome to Lehmer’s Concord Buick GMC. Since 1928, Lehmer’s has provided outstanding customer

Where Life is Beautiful Come let us pamper your body, mind and spirit in our luxurious, Italianesque day spa. Customized European Facials include cleansing, exfoliation, partial massage, extractions and moisturizer. Massage therapy and spa body treatments are of the highest quality and tailored to your needs. Additional beauty treatments are available.

Happy Holidays from SNAP Fitness, celebrating our 5th anniversary in Clayton! There’s no need to travel to get a great workout. We have great equipment, personal training and we’re open when YOU want to work out (4 a.m. to midnight, 365 days a year). We have Gift Certificates, so show you care with a gift of fitness!

Earthquake Arabians


Nothing speaks “love” quite as sweetly as that special bond between horse and rider. Earthquake Arabians helps the rider build confidence, pride and the understanding of the responsibilities involved with horses whether it is the rider’s first time in the saddle or they dream of competing at the National level. See ad this page. Earthquake

"Gelish Gel Polish" Perfect for the holidays or anytime! Hard Folding Tonneau Cover Starting at $696


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Gift Certificates Available DVD Dual Headrest System Starting at $1596

UWS Low Profile Tool Box Brite Finish $332

Hood Protector Smoke or Chrome Starting at $76

Horsing Around for the Holidays Holiday Camp Dates

Factory Roof Racks Starting At $136

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December 20, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 19

Book Review

Performing Arts

If it’s December, it must be Dickens

The fall of a literary queen SUNNY SOLOMON

FOR Photo: Kevin Berne

A.C.T.’S “A CHRISTMAS CAROL” stars James Carpenter as Ebenezer Scrooge. Kevin Berne.

Get your carol on in Walnut Creek, Concord or San Francisco with one of these performances of Charles Dickens’ classic tale of redemption. Back at the Lesher Center for the 12th year, the CenterREP production adapted from Dickens’ novel by Cynthia Caywood and Richard James and directed by Scott Denisen

sparkles with music and special effects. The show plays through Dec. 22. For performance schedule and tickets go to, call (925) 943-7469 or buy at the box office, 1601 Civic Drive in Walnut Creek. The legendary James Carpenter is back at the Geary in A.C.T.’s “A Christmas Carol.” Faithful to the novel and told in

CenterREP brings Dickens’ classic to the Lesher Stage replete with music, dance and special effects.

the classic tradition, the A.C.T. show is a sensory delight with delightful music, elaborate costumes and quirky ghosts. Performances run through Dec. 28 at the A.C.T. Geary Theater in San Francisco. For tickets and show times, go to or call (415) 749-2228.

Diablo Ballet brings holiday song and dance to Steinway Gallery Diablo Ballet will ring in the holidays with a festive evening of dance at the Walnut Creek’s Steinway Piano Gallery on Fri., Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. Diablo Ballet ballerina, Rosselyn Ramirez and beloved Nutcracker characters will join pianist Justin Levitt in an evening of holiTetyana Martyanova and Justin VanWeest in Ben Stevenson’s End of Time Photo by Tiffany Fong/ Michael Malerba

Matt Mazzei, Jr. Broker/Owner DRE# 01881269

day song, dance and music with food, wine, and punch and cookies for children. With a tax-deductible contribution of $200 or more to Diablo Ballet, patrons can bring up to four guests to the event Each donation will be earmarked towards Diablo Ballet’s $20,000 year-end matching donation campaign, which benefits the Ballet and its PEEK Outreach Program.

All of us join in wishing you a Happy Holiday Season and a New Year filled with Peace and Happiness


Judy Ruskus Broker Associate

Doug Van Riper Broker Associate

Diablo Ballet’s PEEK Outreach Program is a leading model for dance companies across the country, reaching more than 65,000 underserved school children since 1995, providing in-school movement and music curriculum and free performances to diverse children, who have few or no opportunities to experience the performing arts. The Steinway Piano Gallery is at 1605 Bonanza Street in Walnut Creek. For more information, call Diablo Ballet at 925-943-1775 or visit

Matt Mazzei, Sr. Sales Agent DRE# 01879806


Rula Masannat Broker Associate

DRE# 00775531

DRE# 01883875

DRE# 01923757




Paula Johnstone Broker Associate

Diane and Bill Hayes

DRE# 00797857

925-890-4701 Dianemariehayes25@

Adam Johnson Sales Agent


DRE#01222762 Clayton residents since 1959

925-693-0757 (Main)



6160 Center St. Suite #C, Clayton

925-693-0752 (Fax)

At a little different pace, Concord’s Butterfield 8 will deliver this classic tale in Dickens’ story the best way – in his own words. Only two performances, Dec. 19 and 20 at Cue Productions Live, 1835 Colfax St., Concord. For tickets, go to or call Brown Paper Tickets, (800) 8383006, or buy at the door.

CTC sets audition dates for the 2014 season The newly formed Clayton Theatre Company, flush with the success of its inaugural show, “Robber Bridegroom,” will be auditioning performers for the 2014 season. Hopefuls should come ready to audition with 32 bars of a Broadway song (please provide music), a prepared monologue and a resume and headshot. Auditions are set for Jan. 5 from noon to 5 and Jan. 6 and 7 from 7 to10 p.m. at Diablo View Middle School, 300 Diablo View Lane in Clayton. Park in the back of the school and follow the signs to the auditions.



Jincy Willet is a very funny lady. That may be presumptuous, but after reading “Amy Falls Down” (Thomas Dunne Books; July, 2013), I don’t think I’m far off the mark. “Amy” is a sequel to “The Writing Class,” but I recommend ignoring the whole business of “don’t read the second until you’ve read the first.” The character Amy is a woman in her 50s or 60s, a widow for many years, and a writer of some note when she was first published. Now she freelances as an online editor for aspiring writers and teaches creative writing. She has lived alone since the death of her husband Max, has found contentment with the companionship of her basset hound Alphonse, is proud to know more about computers than most women her age, and happy to maintain a life of marginal sociability. We can assume that the author has, in her character Amy, sown the seeds of self-mockery with great satirical flair. On her own website, Willett describes herself as: “An aging, bitter, unpleasant woman living in Escondido, California, who spends her days parsing the sentences of total strangers and her nights teaching and writing. Sometimes, late at night, in the dark, she laughs inappropriately.” Amy falls down while carrying a Norfolk pine (a gift from a

grateful student) to a spot in her garden. Alphonse is underfoot, she, herself, is still in her floppy slippers and the fall is inevitable, resulting in a concussion from knocking herself out after hitting her head on a birdbath. Hours later she manages to get back into her house, but has forgotten that she is to be interviewed later that day by a young journalist publishing pieces on local authors. The newspaper piece describing Amy and her somewhat strange behavior (the concussion is still undiagnosed) skyrockets her every word to a readership eager for such literary tidbits. In no time at all Amy becomes the star of the local NPR, and from there, a media frenzy is established. Her books are back in print, her ailing agent re-emerges, directing her newfound fame. Her wisecracking remarks about writers makes her the darling of the literary circuit. The story takes the reader back to Amy’s personal and literary past with some pithy remarks about the personal and literary lives of authors today. In a world of mass publication, she worries about the ratio of readers to writers, “....surely we’re approaching some kind of catastrophic tipping point.” Another interview offers more insights about writers: “They spend their time writing, which is not a spectator sport. We don’t save lives. We don’t tap dance.” What Amy needs to learn, must learn, about herself, her husband’s death, her need for privacy, her need for connectivity

See Books, page 20

Page 20


Clayton Pioneer •

from page 19

and the risks she is willing to take, are all brought forth on a disastrous train trip back to the West Coast from a cross-country speaking tour. “Amy Falls Down” may be short on plot,

but not on wisdom. Sunny Solomon is a freelance writer and head of the Clayton Book Club. Visit her website at for her latest recommendations or just to ‘talk books.’

Delicate lily gilds this shrub

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A local service bringing organic, in-season produce straight from local farms to your doorstep. Sign up today.

Insulating Duette® Architella® honeycomb shades from Hunter Douglas are an attractive way to help lower your energy costs. And thanks to the reinstatement of the federal tax credit for select energy-efficient products, your purchase of qualifying shades may entitle you to a tax credit of up to $500.* Hurry, this opportunity ends Dec. 31, 2013!

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December 20, 2013


GARDEN GIRL Pieris shrubs make superb additions to our Clayton Valley landscapes and gardens. Questioning what type of shrub to install in a morning sun location? Tired of commonly planted azaleas? The Pieris shrub could be the choice for you. This evergreen is amazing, with its hardy flowers and foliage. Robust leaves that are lanceshaped are densely stacked on the square stems of this evergreen. The end of each branch boasts several elongated clusters of cascading flowers. Some of the Pieris blooms white, other cream, and a few selections flower pinks. The Pieris is commonly called the Lily of the Valley shrub. This common name is given to the Pieris since it describes the shape of the flowers, which look a lot like the fragrant bulb-grown plant. As the Pieris matures in the landscape it grows with a layered habit, making it a nice background installation. Pieris is considered slow growing. Depending on the variety, you can expect three- to five-feet of height, and about half as wide. Pieris Temple Bells has a tidy look. The green leaves are deep in color and the buds begin their swell as a light green and open to a pinkish-white. This selection of Pieris is easy to find and sturdy in

any Clayton Valley landscape, where it is protected from the afternoon summer sun. Use this Pieris to add evergreen interest to a Japanese maple. Pieris White Cascade is the selection of the Lily of the Valley shrubs with a large, pure white flower. Use this feminine shrub in the landscape along with other shade-loving perennials. Under plant the White Cascade Pieris with pastel colors of columbine and Astible. It would create a lovely spring display. Katsura is a patented selection of Pieris introduced recently with not only fabulous flowers, but stunning new growth.

Towards late spring after Katsura’s rose-colored flowers fad away, new growth explodes as a glossy, fiery red. The leaves become even more exciting than the flowers. Katsura will reach about 3 feet tall and wide. If you don’t have room in your landscape for this gem, consider growing the Katsura Pieris in a colorful, glazed container. Pieris needs regular water, and performs better when fertilized. It is very hardy to all of our Clayton Valley heat and the cold. You can expect Pieris to survive freezes down to minus-20 degrees. Pieris is very desirable and deserves to be enjoyed.

Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. Contact her with questions or comments at

Go for the real deal with California olive oil most full-bodied taste and aroma of the olive oil varieties. Extra virgin olive oil is a superb choice for salads and vegetable dishes, for basting meats and seafood, and for seasoning soups, marinades and sauces. Or use as a dip for breads. Olive Oil: Olive oil, sometimes described as “pure,” is an excellent all-purpose cooking oil that is more golden in color compared with extra virgin olive oil. It has a mild flavor with just a hint of fruitiness. It can be used for everything, from sautéing and stir-frying, to basting grilled or oven-roasted meats, poultry and seafood. Extra Light Olive Oil: Extra light olive oil, with its light golden color, has the mildest flavor of the olive oils and just a hint of olive flavor. It can be used in place of plain vegetable oil in most recipes.

DEBRA J. MORRIS Pacific Coast Farmers Market

Did you know that 69 percent of grocery store extra virgin olive oil is not really pure olive oil? Many of the major brands can be adulterated with other cheaper refined oils, are oxidized, or of very poor quality. So make sure you purchase award-winning California olive oil, which is consistently ranked as some of the best and most flavorful in the world. THERE ARE DIFFERENT GRADES OF OIL: Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Made from full-flavored ripe olives that are pressed immediately after harvest, extra virgin olive oil boasts a robust, fruity flavor. It has the

Extra light olive oil also is the best choice for high heat cooking methods, because it remains extremely stable and won’t burn. Remember, high quality extra virgin olive oil provides the best health benefit and flavor when it’s fresh. Open your bottle within 18 months of its bottling date, and use it up within one month of opening. Be sure to store it in a cool, dark place. HERBED PARMESAN DIPPING OIL 1/4 tsp. dried oregano 1/4 tsp. dried basil 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese Freshly ground black pepper Crusty baguettes or Italian bread Combine seasoning and olive oil on a 6-inch plate. Top with Parmesan cheese. Dip slices or pieces of crusty bread into oil.

* For details and restrictions visit © 2013 Hunter Douglas. All rights reserved.

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Dec 20 Clayton Pioneer 2013  
Dec 20 Clayton Pioneer 2013