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City declares war on blight

From the desk of...

February 23, 2018


Edi BirSAn


More conversations needed on body cams and substations

People often hear me say two sayings: “Government is either listening to you or to someone else; so talk up” and “Local government is where you can put your hand on the face of democracy. You may want to slap it around or kiss it, and it Tamara Steiner/Concord Pioneer can be as ugly or beautiful as you A top priority for the City Council in 2018 will be cleaning up the many outdated retail centers contributing to urban blight in the city. The make of it.” abandoned Blockbuster center downtown has been boarded up for several years. The Council is out of patience with property owners who Changes are occurring in ignore the decaying properties and vows to stepped-up code enforcement and to apply strict timelines for cleanup. Concord that are the result of a determined long-term effort involving both residents and a strip malls. scattered on many of the door seeking election in 2016, I the decline of retail centers national movement, as well as a One Concord resident A staff report at the Jan. 23 town’s main arteries. Some heard over and over about the and develop strategies to recent very localized handful of tackles reighborhood meeting highlighted urban have been in the city’s sights aging of our shopping centers improve conditions and/or people. cleanup, Page 3. blight, such as vacant and for decades. – how the residents would like redevelop them. boarded-up storefronts, a Since last spring, the city to have more viable shops to According to the staff POLICE BODY/CAR CAMERAS JOHN T. MILLER decided lack of curb appeal, has been researching and idenpatronize,” said Councilreport, a lack of reinvestment Having championed it for Correspondent along with inadequate lighting, tifying retail properties that woman Carlyn Obringer, who can cause retail centers to fall years, I saw this effort come to landscaping and signage. would benefit from increased helped spearhead the drive. into disrepair. Poor conditions fruition this month with the City The Concord City Council When Concord staff priorinvestment to improve properBy September, the Housing can deter customers, while also Council authorizing the use of a has set its sights on combating itized goals in April 2017, top ty maintenance and site condiand Development (HED) attracting less desirable activibulk of Asset Forfeiture Funds increasingly shabby conditions on the list was cleaning up the tions. Committee presented ideas to to outfit all sworn police officers at many shopping centers and See Blight, page 6 outdated shopping centers “When I went door-to- identify issues contributing to and cars with cameras. The equipment will be installed through the fall. In the meantime, there will be outreach to develop the policy and protocols that go along with it. Policy-wise, some of the questions include: In cases of police-involved violence, when does the video minute,” Swanger said. “The showing parked cars with got caught in Livermore doing numbers start dropping,” get reviewed by the officer BEV BRITTON amount of damage that is expensive items in clear view. the same thing,” he said. Swanger said. “We will know if involved? Concord Pioneer being done for insignificant The chief calls the posts The chief reported an over- that’s a true theory in the next How do we handle privacy issues within the confines of the In his semi-annual report type of property is mind-stag- “some public shaming, some all decrease in robberies, burgla- couple years.” education.” ries and auto thefts. “ResidenMeanwhile, downtown open records access rules? to the City Council on Feb. 13, gering.” Swanger said the Police When City Councilwoman tial and commercial burglaries crime continues to center How long and where is the Concord Police Chief Guy information kept? Swanger focused on crime at Department is working hard to Laura Hoffmeister asked if the are bottoming out,” he said. around the homeless and the centers could “We have not seen numbers like BART station. The chief credWhat are the costs to make the city’s main shopping cen- slow the rate of car break-ins. shopping its the City Council with pushinformation available and under ters and in the downtown area. “We have run details; we’ve put enhance surveillance to help that in well over 30 years.” undercover officers out there; thwart crime, the chief hesitatConcord saw a 26 percent ing for an increased focus on what conditions will any raw Auto burglaries were up 30 costs be waived? For example, a percent from 2016 to 2017. we’ve chased people that are ed before saying the depart- reduction in car thefts year to BART-related crimes, adding divorce lawyer wants a report on Overall, 35 percent of those crashing into cars, driving the ment was “still having conver- year, and other area cities are that other cities have followed sations” with center officials. reporting similar drops. Concord PD’s lead. “Citations a traffic stop or the defense break-ins occurred at the Wil- wrong way on freeways.” But he said the police alone Swanger said he continues “One of the largest theo- for fare evading in other cities wants details for an excessive lows or Sunvalley Shopping force case. Center – with 23 percent at the can’t stop this problem, and he to see organized crime from ries is that as cars start getting have had a huge impact on our urges residents to do one sim- people living as far away as Bak- older, people start donating city,” he said. What is the redacting policy? Willows. “I’ve heard from business What about drone video and “They come in and they hit ple thing: “Do not leave ersfield. He cited an example of them and getting rid of them. objects in plain sight.” a recent theft at the Veranda. And the newer cars have much owners and regular riders that its relation to privacy? three or four cars at time. They The department has posted “By the time we were ready to stronger anti-theft locks See Mayor, page 6 are in and out in less than a photos on its Facebook page post the pictures of them, they attached to them, so those See Crime, page 6

Mid-year sees increase in auto burglaries

Demographer maps city for district council elections TAMARA STEINER Concord Pioneer

The City Council took a major step forward in changing the way Concord voters elect their council members by selecting the map that will divide the city into five districts. Each district will elect its own representative rather than the age-old method of all eligible voters voting for at large candidates running citywide. At the Jan. 23 council meeting, demographer Michael Wagaman presented four alternative maps labeled Orange, Yellow, Green and Blue.

All five council members favored the “Blue” map because it checked most of the boxes they had set forth as criteria for district boundaries. After some minor adjustments, they renamed it “Cobalt” and adopted it at their Feb. 6 meeting. Cobalt keeps the downtown in one district, splits the naval base property and gives a better population balance. But the map does put both BART stations in the same district, a plan that was opposed by Sun Terrace resident Hope Johnson. “The North BART station comes with its own set of

See Maps, page 3


Calendar . . . . . . . . . . . .13

Community . . . . . . . . . . .2

From the desk of . . . . . .6 School News . . . . . . . .14 Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

Performing Arts . . . . . .12


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Concord Pioneer •

In Brief... Senior Health Expo Feb. 23

Age Strong, Live Long Health Expo will bring resources and information to seniors, families and professionals on Feb. 23, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Concord Senior Center, 2727 Parkside Circle. Free. healthfair. (925) 6713320, ext. 1.

English Tutors needed

Diablo Valley Literacy Council teaches volunteers how to be English tutors. Mar. 3, 10. 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 4000 Clayton Road. $20. Must attend both workshops. To register, call (925) 6853881 or email

Kiwanis honor detective Rey Valeros for work in schools

The Kiwanis Club of Concord recognized Detective Rey Valeros as its 11th annual Police Officer of the Year Luncheon at the Old Spaghetti Factory on Jan. 28. “It is an honor and privilege to thank the members of the Concord Police Department as they work so hard to let us sleep comfortably at night,” said Kiwanis member Rocci Barsotti. Valeros has been with the Special Victims Unit as a School Resource Officer (SRO) since 2014 and recently

obtained the position of detective. As Valeros’ supervisor, Sgt. Christine Magley has watched Valeros bridge the gap between law enforcement and the residents of Concord. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this recognition as we work to prevent youth delinquency by providing our young citizens in Concord with an opportunity to develop into a productive, educated and contributing adulthood,” Magley said. Over the last three years, Valeros has developed a fresh-

man program for new students that offers them a face-to-face meeting with the SRO. The goal is to allow the officer to discuss law enforcement’s role and responsibilities in the school and community, while students can ask about issues and myths regarding law enforcement and SROs. Valeros also volunteered as a varsity/junior varsity football and basketball coach at Mt. Diablo High School. “He developed an after-school sports program which offered students who were not mem- detective rey Valeros is joined by Concord Police Chief

Candlelight walk for hope

Todos Santos Brick

There is still time to see your name etched in Todos Santos Plaza on a custom-engraved brick to be placed near statue of founding father Don Salvio Pacheco. The statue is part of Concord's 150th Anniversary celebration and will be unveiled July 4. Bricks cost $150. Available until sold out at

February 23, 2018

Community and church members gather for a Jan. 22 Candlelight Walk to focus on hope and peace.

Dressed in warm coats and comfortable shoes, members of the Clayton and Concord community gathered for a candlelight walk on Jan. 22. St. Bonaventure parishioner Sandy Fogarty brought the idea for the walk to Father Mat Vellankal last fall. Watching all of the strife, animosity Continued next page and violence in the news was

weighing heavy on her heart. She felt the need to be a light in the darkness and wanted others to join her. “It is my hope that when people see us walking with our lighted candles, they will see people full of spirit who look to the future with hope and confidence,” she said. Fogarty and staff at the St.

Bonaventure Catholic community invited local churches to participate and asked the police for their support and assistance. The requests were enthusiastically received. Vellankal welcomed Concord Mayor Edi Birsan and parishioners and clergy from Clayton Community Church, Clayton Valley Presbyterian, St. John’s Episcopal and Concord United Methodist. After a short prayer service at St. Bonaventure, attendees took to Clayton Road. With candles in hand, they proceeded down Clayton Road to Ygnacio Valley. Drivers of passing cars honked in support, and employees from local restaurants stood outside waving. The evening of light and hope was an example of what one person can do and the power of what a group of people can reflect.

Guy Swanger, left, Kiwanis member rocci Barsotti, city treasurer Patti Barsotti and Kiwanis club president Wendy B. Jones.

bers of the official competitive teams the chance to learn the values of teamwork, communication and conflict resolution,” Magley noted. In addition, Valeros is a board member with the local Police Activities League, which supports youth with scholarships for team fees, equipment

and other sports-related costs. “Thanks to Rey, the Concord PAL has continued his after-school sports program and, most recently, kicked off a PAL cops vs. students recreational basketball game that has become an annual event,” Magley said.

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February 23, 2018

Concord Pioneer •

One man crusades for cleaner neighborhoods JOHN T. MILLER Correspondent

Alex Diaz takes a personal approach to cleaning up his neighborhood around Solano Avenue and Grant Street in the Hillcrest area of North Concord. Diaz purchased his home in Concord in 2010 and first participated in a community event organized through the Hillcrest Neighborhood Watch Group. “After seeing how much better the area looked without litter scattered all over the place, I decided to host a monthly cleanup to keep our neighborhood looking good,” Diaz recalls. “I’ve been at it for about 20 months.” The crew meets at the Dollar General store in the Solano Plaza Shopping Center. Sometimes up to a dozen volunteers show up, and other times it’s just Diaz. Mayor Edi Birsan has joined frequently, and City Councilwoman Carlyn Obringer has also tagged along.

Diaz says. “When the property is in such terrible shape, it’s difficult to attract good tenants.” Diaz and his group participated in a city-sponsored cleanup at Hillcrest Park a couple months ago, helping with gardening chores and a creek cleanup. The city also sponsors an Adopt-A-Street program on a quarterly basis, providing pickers, bags and gloves, but Diaz says it’s not enough. “I prefer a grassroots method, avoiding the bureauConcord Police Officer Jeff Sherwin cratic red tape and being able to Volunteers Alexander Adolphus Pierre, Katy Maddux, Stephen McCaffree, Councilmember do more frequent cleanings.” Diaz asks residents not to Carlyn Obringer, Alex diaz and Suzanne delbou meet for a neighborhood cleanup day. wait for formal events. “If you Diaz reports that the shop- the participants. “I’ve met my surveillance camera a go out for a walk, just pick up ping center is in fair shape after some great neighbors who are woman drive by and throw her trash along the way,” he advises. a remodel about eight years also passionate about cleaning Taco Bell bag of trash out the For more information on ago, but there’s still a large up, some of whom have lived window on my lawn,” he says. cleanup efforts in the city, search amount of trash littering the here for 30 years,” he notes. While he’s happy there is Concord Clean Streets on Facebook area. “The center has just one On some weekends, Diaz less visible trash in his area, or Adopt-A-Street on the city Webvacancy, with a methadone sets out by himself to canvass Diaz would really like to see an site at clinic looking to set up shop his immediate neighborhood. anti-litter campaign to help there,” he says. “I like to stay positive, but the clean up the city. Meanwhile, The city wrestles with The group collects four to amount of trash is discourag- he supports Obringer’s efforts urban blight in its aging five Hefty bags of trash in a ing. My immediate neighbors to clean up retail areas. shopping centers, see one- or two-mile area. Diaz is keep their yards spotless, yet “The shopping centers story Page 1. pleased with the support of just the other week I saw on have become really run down,”

Maps, from page 1

traffic and parking issues completely different from downtown,” she said. The Cobalt map divides the city into five districts, roughly described as follows: District 1: The area along Clayton Rd. between Farm Bureau and Ayers and includes the connecting base property between Willow Pass Rd. and Ayers. District 2: North Concord, Sun Terrace, Holbrook, downtown and includes the base property west of Willow Pass Rd.

the Federal Voting Rights Act to avoid gerrymandering. The districts must be contiguous, meaning there can be no part of a district that is not part of the whole. In drawing the districts “'communities of interest”—neighborhoods, shopping areas and school boundaries—are to be kept together. While race can be a factor in drawing boundaries for a district, it cannot be the predominant factor. Finally, the district boundary must not cut across a precinct or a census block. No partisan data was used in drawing the boundaries, Wagaman assured the council. Partisan data was

blinded out on the data he used. The final map and ordinance will be discussed on Feb. 27 and then proposed for adoption at the Mar. 6 council meeting. In order not to complicate the process more than it is, Council put off the issues of a directly-elected mayor and appointing an independent commission to determine district boundaries in the future. For a closer look at the Cobalt map and more information, go to and click on the District Elections tab.

In Brief...

Tables and Song Festival Mar. 24

The Clayton Valley Woman’s Club presents their 13th Annual Festival of Tables and Song at 11 a.m. on March 24, Concord United Methodist Church, 1645 West St., Concord. Prizes, luncheon, entertainment. Proceeds benefit CVWC’s charities and scholarships. $45 by March 17. Contact Rosemary at (925) 672-3490. claytonvalleywomansclub.

YV Christian golf fundraiser

Ygnacio Valley Christian School in Concord will host a golf tournament at Boundary Oak Golf Course in Walnut Creek on April 7. The school recently celebrated 45 years in Concord. Funds will go to help finance their move to a new location at the end of the school year. Reservations will include golf, cart, snacks, one drink ticket and a post-round BBQ. Sponsorships are also available. For more info, visit golf-tournament.

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District 3: Covers the Monument bounded by Monument Blvd. and Concord Ave. District 4: Lies between Monument Blvd. and Ayers up to Cowell Rd. District 5: Turtle Creek, Crossings, Crystyl Ranch, Pine Hollow area and neighborhoods bordering Clayton. Council members Ron Leone and Laura Hoffmeister both live in District 1 but Leone is not running for reelection this November. He said the best part of the Blue

plan was that “Edi Birsan isn't in the Monument.” This year’s election also includes District 3 (no incumbent) and District 5 (Tim McGallian). Districts 2 (Carlyn Obringer) and 4 (Birsan) will be contested for the first time in 2020. If the whole reason for going to district elections is to give voice to those unheard “it wouldn't be fair to expect someone brand new to run against an incumbent,” Leone said. The challenges in dividing up the city were great. Each district must have nearly equal population and comply with

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Concord Pioneer •

Local developer lands USL soccer franchise, eyes Concord for stadium JOHN T. MILLER Correspondent

Less than a month after being awarded a professional soccer franchise in the United Soccer League, local developer Mark Hall selected Concord as the site for the proposed East Bay team. In a Jan. 10 letter to Concord city manager Valerie Barone, Hall Equities Group requested an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement with the city for a proposed stadium master development. “Planned effectively, we can work together to enhance the cultural and economic vibrancy of our region, with the city of

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Concord as the center stage attraction,” Hall wrote. The proposal targets a three-acre vacant parcel at the corner of Oak and Galindo streets near the BART station to build a 15,000-18,000 seat soccer stadium, which could also include hotel and conference facilities, retail, commercial, residential and other uses. The property was part of the Concord Redevelopment Agency, which was dissolved in 2012. “The city of Concord always considered this property as a catalyst development site due to its size, location in the downtown and proximity to BART,” Concord’s Economic Development manager John Montagh wrote in a staff report prepared to consider the ENA. The report recommends that staff pursue negotiating an ENA, which would allow Hall Sports Ventures to explore the feasibility of this master plan with other property owners in the area. It would also provide credibility to Hall Sports Ventures in negotiating with other parties. The project would need to include additional properties, including

some BART-owned land. In his letter to the city, Hall noted that soccer is the “only common global sport which transcends and bridges national borders, cultures, religions and languages. Approximately 4 billion people follow soccer globally.” In granting the franchise to Hall, USL CEO Alec Papadakis said, “The Oakland East Bay area fits perfectly into our mission of building passionate rivalries and further strengthens the USL’s presence on the West Coast following our recent expansion into Fresno and Las Vegas.” The USL has 30 markets in 20 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces and reaches 75 million people. The exclusive territory for the franchise awarded to Hall covers all of Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara counties, along with large portions of Napa and Solano counties. A new professional sports franchise will help fill the void in the East Bay from the loss of the Oakland Raiders and the Golden State Warriors to other venues. Hall Sports Ventures also

has rights to establish a professional Division III development team and, under certain circumstances, the potential to acquire a franchise for a National Women’s Soccer League team. Hall Equities is currently building the Copa Reàl Training Studios in Walnut Creek’s Shadelands Business Park. Copa Reàl will include state-ofthe-art technologies and methodologies in a skills-based soccer training facility for players of all ages, including the professional USL team. Hall calls it a “natural complement to the development of these teams.” Although the Concord stadium is described as soccerspecific, it would be designed to be suitable for music and other events, including sports such as football, lacrosse and rugby. “The city has worked hard to transform downtown Concord into a thriving dining and entertainment destination,” said Vice Mayor Carlyn Obringer. “This project would further anchor the downtown area as an exciting venue and job center.”

KARA NAVOLIO Correspondent

In his State of the City address, Mayor Edi Birsan emphasized the spirit of Concord residents “to live in concordance with one another.” During the address at the Concord Hilton on Jan. 23, Birsan frequently mentioned one of his goals for 2018 – increasing civic engagement and building bridges between residents and their city’s government. The city has launched the Concord Community Institute, where residents can learn more about city government. Birsan also plans to speak to school children and other groups about how to engage with government. Meanwhile, residents interested in law enforcement can attend the Citizen Police Academy. The city is building its network of Parks Neighborhood Teams, and Birsan hopes to have teams in place for all Concord parks this year. Each teams will take responsibility for a neighborhood park, helping to keep it clean and informing city staff of maintenance issues. The mayor highlighted some ways the city is using technology to connect with residents. Using smart phones,

residents can download the Concord Connect app so they can easily report such things as graffiti, potholes, broken street lights or other areas of concern. Concord residents can also interact through the city Website’s Town Hall tab, where officials seek feedback on different issues. Birsan gave progress reports on key issues, such as the Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) development, crimes statistics and economic development. CNWS is currently undergoing cleanup, and the Navy is expected to transfer it to the city by spring 2019. Around that same time, the mayor expects the city to adopt the Specific Plan regarding use of the site, with the building of infrastructure slated to begin in 2020. He spoke of Concord’s agreement with Marin Clean Energy to provide cleaner energy to Concord homes and businesses. Residents should have already received a mailing regarding their choices, which are due in April. Challenges facing the city in the near future include political, social and economic issues. Concord is moving to district elections for City Council members. An independent consultant is working on the fair creation of districts,

and voters will decide this year if they want a directly elected mayor instead of one selected by the council. Social issues that the mayor hopes to address include reducing domestic violence and homelessness and coming up with solutions to the dearth of affordable housing. As rising pension costs and interest rates put pressure on the city budget, he plans to support new businesses and economic developments such as the Veranda shopping center that bring much-needed sales tax revenue to the city. This year will also be momentous as it is Concord’s 150th birthday, and history will be emphasized. Birsan plans “Walk, Talk and Listen” events at Todos Santos Plaza, where he will share Concord history and listen to what residents want from the city in the future. The mayor called for unity and teamwork in facing the challenges ahead. “We need to build goodwill and better friendships,” he said. “And in the end, we’ll find something that is beneficial to all.”

Contra Costa County voters will see an additional language on their voting materials starting this year, as the Contra Costa Elections Division adds Chinese to the current English and Spanish. This means that the official ballot and Voter Information Guide will appear in all three languages. Voters in the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District and the Diablo Community Services District have a special vote-by-mail election on March 6 and will be the first to see the trilingual materials

when they receive their ballots in the mail next week. Chinese will appear on all voting materials beginning in June. Written material will be in traditional Chinese and the Elections Division will provide audio language assistance in Cantonese and Mandarin. The addition of Chinese comes as a result of the county’s population growth and corresponding shift in demographics. As the population changes, so do the language needs of local voters. When 10,000 voters or 5 percent of

the county’s voting age citizens speak a specific language, the Federal Voting Rights Act requires that language be included on all election materials. At the end of 2016, the Department of Justice informed us that we crossed that threshold for Chinese. The Contra Costa Elections Division continues to engage with local community groups to ensure language access for all voters. For more information, visit our website at

Mayor delivers message of ‘concordance’ at address

To view the entire address, visit the website or

Third language added to voting materials this year

February 23, 2018

Concord Pioneer •

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Astronaut José Hernandez inspires Concord High student assembly JAY BEDECARRÉ Concord Pioneer

Astronaut José Hernández from the Space Shuttle Discovery flight in 2009 visited Concord High School last month presented by baseball Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, well known in this area as the co-founder and chairman of Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation. Hernandez is one of four children of Mexican migrant farm workers who spent his childhood split between Mexico and working in California. He spoke about his inspirational journey through education and life before a morning assembly at Concord High. Senior Nicole Pyle said, “I was one of the lucky students to attend. Those of us who came to the assembly were very excited and surprised to find out that the guest speaker was a well-trained and well-spoken astronaut. Many of us felt connected to Dr. Hernandez—he came from the area, from a lower class family and still managed to pursue school and achieve his dream.” Backing up that assessment, Hernandez explained to the students that he learned to speak English when he was 12-years-old. “I was hoeing a row of sugar beets in a field near Stockton and I heard on my transistor radio that Franklin Chang-Diaz had been selected for the Astronaut Corps,” says Hernandez, who was a senior in high school at the time.  “I was already interest-

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Jay Bedecarré

Hall of Fame manager Tony La russa (left) brought astronaut José Hernández (right) from the Space Shuttle discovery flight in 2009 to Concord High School where they spoke to an assembly that included senior nick nunez and junior Kaitlin Van Brusselen.

ed in science and engineering,” Hernandez remembers, “but that was the moment I said, ‘I want to fly in space.’” Hernandez enrolled at the University of the Pacific in Stockton after high school and earned a degree in electrical engineering. He was awarded a full scholarship to the graduate program at UCSB, where he continued his engineering studies. He then accepted a full-time job with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the Bay Area. He was selected to the astronaut program in 2004. Topping off that experience he met his inspiration, Chang-Diaz, during the selection process. Pyle continued, “The

speech was very inspirational and sincere, talking about how to identify goals and make them a reality even when faced with rejection. The idea that you must do more than what is required of you and think one step ahead to achieve what you want is something that many of us need to acknowledge to step forward into adulthood.” Hernandez was the recipient of the 2016 National Hispanic Hero Award and founded the José M. Hernández Reaching for the Stars Foundation. His appearance was sponsored by La Russa, the former major league baseball player and World Champion manager of the Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals.

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Page 6

Concord Pioneer •

From the desk of ...

Civic leader to stand trial on child porn charges A former Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce board president and at one time emcee of the Concord July 4 parade will stand trial on felony child pornography charges May 25, more than three years after his arrest. Jeffrey Kasper, 55, was arrested May 7, 2015. According to police, the investigation began that March when detectives say they learned that illegal videos showing children

MCE starting electricity service in Concord

engaged in sexual activities were downloaded to his Concord home. Police searched Kasper’s home on May 7, 2015 and found evidence of the illegal videos. He was arrested and subsequently released on $20,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison. The trial is set for May 25, at 8:45 a.m. in Martinez Superior Court.

This April, MCE will become the primary electricity provider in Concord and many other areas of Contra Costa County. Starting this month, residents will receive notification of the change in bills from electricity providers. Customers who have gone paperless will also receive a written notice. Per California law, if you do nothing, you will automatically be enrolled in MCE. If you choose to opt out, MCE has stated that it is best to opt out by May. After that, there will be a one-time $5 fee to opt out. The Marin-based MCE is a public, not-for-profit electricity provider that offers customers clean, renewable sources at competitive rates. Last June, the county Board

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Kudos to TeenSpeak writer

Big praises to Aasim Yahya (TeenSpeak, Jan. 26) a written response to daily hearings about sexual abuse. I also look to our youth as the influencers of society— embrace respect and love for one another.” Such a difference from

the constant taking advantage of others in the name of “profits…” Unfortunately we can’t expect that from our “same old-same old” leaders who are supposed to lead and serve!

POLYSTYRENE BAN In Concord, one concerned resident started a polystyrene ban by writing a few letters echoing some regional and national concerns. This gathered attention and, after going through the Policy Standing Committee review with a staff recommendation, the ban was sent to the council. We gave the go-ahead to draft an ordinance sometime in the fall. Some people misinterpreted a joke by me urging busi-

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ties like loitering and panhandling – which further perpetuates the decline of these properties. Many of the poorly maintained and underperforming commercial properties were developed when standards were far less rigorous. With the passing of the 2012 Development Code in Concord, a number of these properties are legally nonconforming. They may, however, be out of compliance with property maintenance. The HED Committee recommended a four-part program to help revitalize key commercial properties, beginning with enhanced code enforcement – especially with issues related to public health. They also proposed strengthening the Vacant Building Ordinance, stating that property values suffer when vacant buildings are boarded up or poorly maintained. The committee is considering a tax or a Vacancy Building Registration Program to dissuade commercial vacancies. The recommendations included adopting retail investment attraction strategies, such

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of Supervisors adopted an ordinance and resolution to join MCE’s community choice energy/aggregation program. This involves cities, counties or a joint powers authority comprised of cities and counties pooling (“aggregating”) retail electricity

nesses to start now and not wait until the regulation hits. It’s a reminder that sense of humor, like common sense, is sometimes not common or humorous. POLICE SUBSTATIONS/ LOCAL SERVICE CENTER

With complaints about issues downtown, the police chief brought a proposal to initiate an adjacent station to help existing personnel deal with safety. This opened the door to a

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February 23, 2018

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as encouraging owners to redevelop properties with a residential use above commercial storefronts and utilizing the city’s membership in trade associations and Websites to promote investment and development. George Fulmore, a Monument area community activist, urged caution. “My fear here is that this kind of effort could go off the rails, leading to demands for ‘improvements’ that are not in sync with the needs or expectations of Monument residents,” he said. Fulmore said he was worried about gentrification. “I don’t expect to live in a city where everything looks clean and new and orderly.” Concord Mayor Edi Birsan expressed concerns about equality in the definitions of retail centers and blight. His comments recalled the tradition of using the word blight as a pretext for projects that led to massive displacement, as in the 1950s uprooting of thousands of families in Pittsburg’s historic Hill District. Obringer noted that it would be best to bring needed improvements to these shopping centers before breaking ground on the Naval Weapons Station development. “We’d like to move quickly on this, starting first with enforcing code violations and

customers for the purpose of procuring and selling electricity. In District 4, Concord and Walnut Creek are the only cities that have officially opted in with MCE, as well as the unincorporated communities in our district. Danville, Martinez, Moraga, Oakley, Pinole, Pittsburg and San Ramon will also join MCE in April. MCE currently provides service to Contra Costa residents and businesses in El Cerrito, Lafayette, San Pablo, Richmond and Walnut Creek. MCE has convened three Community Leader Advisory Groups (CLAG) in Contra Costa County. The CLAGs are comprised of community members who help guide local outreach efforts and facilitate input from residents and businesses.

They help identify outreach strategies and venues, distribute information in the community and promote presentations and events. If you are interested in participating in a CLAG or to learn more, please visit If you have any questions or would like to learn more about MCE, please contact them at or 888-632-3674. I encourage you to reach out to your family members to make sure they are also aware of this information.

discussion on a return of the police substations in The Monument and North Concord/Hillcrest areas, where the last two stations closed in 2010. This is an issue close to my heart. The closure of the Monument Station to save $38,000 and a concurrent multiple times expenditure being made to a single staff member brought me into the political realm. I could not accept the answer from the other side of the podium that “we do not want to pinch pennies for a good guy.” As the City Council passed the new effort downtown, we reached a compromise to have

the issue of reopening the stations elsewhere sent to the Policy Committee for full public discussion and a recommendation to the council. There is a difference between the station downtown and the details around renewing the outer substations, but this is a simple example of how sometimes local democracy works. The issue was never put on an agenda in the last eight years, and now it finally is. So there you go: three examples of things to come and some background on them. Contact the mayor at

setting priorities on budget expenditures,” Obringer said. Examples of rundown centers include Bel Air at Treat Boulevard and Clayton Road, the Terminal Center on Clayton Road near downtown and the Blockbuster center downtown. Bob Freitas, in-house counsel for Myron Zimmerman Investments, which owns the Bel Air center, spoke during public comment. He asked for leniency on code enforcement at the mostly vacant shopping center, which has a trail of code violations from 1986 to the present. The city paid the center

$300,000 for 24 parking spaces lost due to the widening of the intersection. The money is sitting in an escrow account until Zimmerman submits renovation plans. Freitas said center officials are waiting to see if Staples renews its lease. He asked the council “not to put the hammer down too hard” in the meantime. That request didn’t sit well with Councilwoman Laura Hoffmeister. “I’ve heard these empty promises the whole 20 years I’ve been on the council,” she said. “I’m not willing to cut you any slack.”

Karen Mitchoff is Contra Costa County District IV supervisor. Email questions or comments to her at


Captain Grammar Pants

Today’s post concerns the need to AVENGE (Latin, “vindicate”) a wrong, and how that compares with the wish for REVENGE (Latin, “re-vindicate”). Avenge is a verb, and it is often centered on impersonal social justice issues. You might sue a person if he polluted a river, for example; in doing so, you would avenge a wrong. Revenge is both a noun and a verb; you can revenge an insult, or you can take revenge on the insulter. The difference is that revenge is personal and vindictive. If you remain confused, remember the adage, “revenge is a dish best served cold.” It means that it is better to exact revenge after waiting a bit, rather than doing it in the heat of the moment. Sean Williams is a professor of ethnomusicology at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. She is currently working on a Captain Grammar Pants book. Follow her regular postings on Facebook.

February 23, 2018

Concord Pioneer •

P.O. Box 1246 6200 Center Street, Suite H, Clayton, CA 94517

People and poison oak just don’t mix

TAMARA AND R OBERT S TEINER , Publishers TAMARA S TEINER , Editor P ETE C RUZ , Graphic Design B EV B RITTON , Copy Editor J AY B EDECARRÉ, Sports Editor PAMELA W IESENDANGER , Administration, Calendar Editor S TAFF W RITERS : Pamela Wiesendanger, Jay Bedecarré, Bev Britton

C ORRESPONDENTS : Kara Navolio, John T. Miller


Tel: (925) 672-0500 Fax: (925) 672-6580

Tamara Steiner Send Ads to Send Sports News to Send School, Club and Calendar Items to

The Clayton Pioneer and the Concord Pioneer are monthly publications delivered free to homes and businesses in 94517, 94518, 94519 and 94521. ZIP code 94520 is currently served by drop site distribution. The papers are published by Clayton Pioneer, Inc., Tamara and Robert Steiner, PO 1246, Clayton, CA 94517. The offices are located at 6200 Center St. Suite H, Clayton, CA 94517

LET US KNOW Weddings, anniversaries, births and deaths all weave together as part of the fabric of our community. Please let us know of these important events. We ask only that the announcement be for a resident in our home delivery area. Submit on our website and be sure to attach a JPG photo that is at least 3 MB. Also on the website are forms for calendar items, events & press releases.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Both Pioneer newspapers welcome letters from our readers.

As a general rule, letters should be 175 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. CIRCULATION The Concord Pioneer is delivered monthly to 30,000 homes and businesses in 94518, 94519 and 94521. Papers are delivered by carriers for ABC Direct around the last Friday of the month. To stop delivery for any reason, call the office at (925) 672-0500 . If you are NOT receiving the Pioneer, please check the distribution map on the website. If you live in the shaded area and are not receiving the paper, please let us know. If you are not in the shaded area, please be patient. We will come to your neighborhood soon. The Clayton Pioneer is delivered by US Mail to 5,500 homes and businesses in 94517 around the second Friday of the month. SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe to either the Clayton Pioneer or the Concord Pioneer, call the office at (925) 672-0500. Subscriptions are $35/year for each paper, $60/year for both.

Page 7



Watch your step: Poison oak is already leafing out on the mountain. It’s particularly potent right now, because the sap is rising and the new leaves are delicate and easily crushed. While critical for our wildlife, this native plant isn’t so benevolent to people. It not only arms itself with a toxic resin, it’s a sneaky shape-shifter – growing as spindly vines, bushes, big hedges and groundcover. It’s especially easy to overlook right now, as it sends out sprouts at ground level. Many veteran hikers pitch their clothes directly into the washing machine when they get home, a sound policy. But it’s easy to forget that your boots may also be flush with urushiol, the skin-blistering oil in poison oak. The resin is highly

persistent. It doesn’t evaporate and will still be there next time you grab your boots. Urushiol can last for months and even years in some conditions. So when you get home, spray a little dilute rubbing alcohol on your boots, including the soles, and let them air dry. Rubbing alcohol is a fastacting solvent that works just as well on clothing. Some hikers carry alcohol swabs in their packs in case they accidentally brush against poison oak – or even suspect that they have. The oil is thought to have evolved as an anti-microbial defense, not to make humans miserable but to fight infection when the plant is injured. And it’s injured all the time by hungry critters. The oil isn’t toxic to native wildlife, but instead provides critical habitat, food, shelter and nesting locations to many species. Deer commonly munch on the leaves and stems, and insects feed on the juicy tissue. Birds – including quail, phoebes, waxwings, warblers, woodpeckers, titmice, robins and towhees – eat the berries. Some make nests in the branches, particularly the California towhee. This friendly, buff-colored bird about the size of a robin hunts for seeds, spiders, mites, grubs and snails

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in the leaf duff of the woodlands. California’s native fauna evolved with poison oak. On the scale of evolution, people are literally newcomers. If we stick around for a few million more years – a big if – we may develop immunity. But for now, try to enjoy this plant for

its brilliant color and beauty spring through fall and for the generous bounty it offers our wildlife. Just keep your distance.

they feel it is a much safer environment now,” added Councilwoman Carlyn Obringer. Another area of concern is the rise in reported rapes. Of the 64 cases in 2017, 61 were family or acquaintance rape – which Swanger calls “very troubling.” He expects rape reports to continue to climb, pointing to the national #MeToo movement along with the impact of the Family Justice Center. “Having the Family Justice Center makes it an easier transition to actually tell somebody about it,” he said.

Mayor Edi Birsan said he wanted “more than badges and guns” in the next report. He noted that Concord’s officers are doing some “pretty amazing things,” including saving lives. “I would like to see that positive side of safety reflected in the next report,” the mayor told the chief, who agreed. Obringer said residents didn’t have to wait six months and could visit the police Facebook page anytime. “There are many heart-warming stories,” she said.

Staci Hobbet is a docent with the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association;

Crime, from page 1

FAQ MCE Contra Costa

In April 2018, residents and businesses in Concord, along with Danville, Martinez, Moraga, Oakley, Pinole, Pittsburg, San Ramon, and unincorporated Contra Costa County, will start their more renewable and locally controlled energy service with MCE at competitive rates compared to PG&E, or they can choose another service option.



MCE Light Green | 50% RENEWABLE Take no action and your electric service will be at least 50% renewable energy starting in April — Light Green is currently 55% renewable. MCE Deep Green | 100% RENEWABLE Eliminate your electricity–related carbon footprint by opting up to 100% California renewable energy at–enroll or 1 (888) 632–3674.*


PG&E | 33% RENEWABLE You can choose to opt out and continue purchasing energy from PG&E at–out or 1 (888) 632–3674.*

*Please have your PG&E account number on hand.

How does MCE affect electricity services for Concord residents and businesses? Aside from having access to more renewable energy, not much will change. Residents and businesses can choose 50 –100% renewable energy from a local public agency. MCE customers continue to enjoy the same reliable electricity service, with PG&E delivering power, maintaining the wires, and providing billing and gas services. HOW MCE WORKS




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How do MCE rates compare to PG&E’s? Typical customers currently pay slightly less for MCE’s 50% renewable electricity compared to PG&E’s 33% renewable electricity, with costs nearly identical. Part of MCE’s mission is to provide stable and competitive rates, and has, in fact, reduced rates the past two years in a row (by an average of 9% and 3.7%, respectively). MCE has limited rate changes to once annually and, as a local public agency, all changes are always discussed and reviewed at public meetings by MCE’s Board of Directors, made up of locally elected œvwVˆ>ÃÀi«ÀiÃi˜Ìˆ˜}i>V…œv̅iVœ““Õ˜ˆÌˆiÃÜiÃiÀÛi° PG&E will implement new rates beginning March 1. MCE will review promptly and, if needed to continue providing competitive rates, will adjust its own rates. For rates and cost comparisons visit: Do CARE, Medical Baseline, and other low–income assistance programs continue with MCE service? Yes. Low–income assistance programs like CARE, FERA, and Medical Baseline are unaffected by enrollment; these customers receive the same discount with MCE as they would with PG&E. Customers in these programs do not need to re–enroll nor take any further action. Will my billing change? No. PG&E will continue to send one monthly bill. Instead of one fee that combines charges for the delivery and generation of your electricity, the bill will show separate charges — one for electric delivery (PG&E) and one for electric generation (MCE). MCE’s generation rates simply replace the generation charges you currently pay to PG&E; they are not an additional charge. Is MCE’s power supply more renewable than PG&E’s? Yes, considerably! MCE’s power supply contains a higher portion of renewable resources like solar, wind, bioenergy,


and geothermal. According to the most recent California Energy Commission Power Content Labels, MCE’s Light Green service is 55% renewable and PG&E’s service is 33% renewable. Which communities does MCE serve? MCE has been serving Bay Area electric customers since 2010. Today, about 255,000 customers in Marin and Napa Counties, and the cities of Benicia, El Cerrito, Lafayette, Richmond, San Pablo, and Walnut Creek are buying more renewable energy from MCE. Concord, Danville, Martinez, Moraga, Oakley, Pinole, Pittsburg, San Ramon, and unincorporated Contra Costa County will enroll with MCE in April. What kind of organization is MCE and who controls it?  ˆÃ>œV>]˜œÌqvœÀq«ÀœwÌ]«ÕLˆV>}i˜VÞ`ˆÀiV̏Þ controlled by its member communities — like Concord. Formed by the public to buy cleaner power and re– invest ratepayer dollars locally, MCE always prioritizes the interests of its customers. MCE’s Board of Directors are democratically elected leaders from each community MCE serves and are not paid for their role with MCE. In consultation with MCE’s staff, the Board determines MCE’s rates, policies and programs in meetings that are open to the public. How is MCE funded? Like PG&E, MCE is funded by electricity ratepayers through their monthly energy purchases. MCE is not funded by taxpayers. A cornerstone to MCE’s mission is to redirect ratepayer dollars back to local economies, and reinvest in its communities by providing low, stable rates, supporting local workforce development, and partnering with community– based organizations. | 1 (888) 632–3674 |


Page 8

Concord Pioneer •

February 23, 2018

NCS soccer semi-finals feature 4 local teams JAY BEDECARRÉ Concord Pioneer

Ygnacio Valley High’s boys and girls teams each reached this week’s semifinals of the North Coast Section playoffs along with perennial powers Carondelet and De La Salle. The Warriors had the toughest games in last Saturday’s quarterfinals as the boys defeated Las Lomas 3-2 in the second overtime while the No. 12 seeded Cinderella YV girls went all the way to a shootout before prevailing over Drake. All four local teams are back in action this Wednesday looking for victories that would put them in Saturday’s NCS championship matches. De La Salle is top ranked in boys Division I as the Spartans look to get another Section championship. They won six consecutive NCS crowns from 2009-2014 but have lost two of the last three finals as they seek their 13th overall title. Wednesday the Spartans host Pittsburg on Owen Owens Field. Top seeded DLS (15-2-7) meets the BVAL champion Pirates (10-


4-4), who are seeded fourth. The other semi features two more EBAL teams in Danville rivals Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley. DLS edged No. 2 seed San Ramon for the EBAL championship although the teams tied both their meetings 1-1. DLS won its opening two games 3-1 over Deer Valley after being tied 1-1 at halftime and 3-0 over EBAL rival


Granada, again after a tied and scoreless first half. Clayton Valley nipped Ygnacio Valley for the Diablo Athletic League Valley Division championship. The Eagles got a 10th seed in Division I and lost to California in Pleasanton 1-0 on a second half goal to finish the season 14-5-4. Concord had the eighth seed in Division II but lost to


Santa Rosa in a match at Mt. Diablo High in the opening round. Ygnacio Valley won the first-ever NCS D-III championship in 2016 and have competed in D-II the past two seasons. The Warriors (14-4-5) have the fourth seed in the playoffs and had an easy time with Alameda 5-0 in their opener before freshman Diego Ramos scored in

the second overtime to give YV a 3-2 quarterfinal win over Las Lomas in Concord. Now Ygnacio must travel to No. 1 seed Montgomery on Wednesday. The Santa Rosa school is 19-2-1 on the year and has outscored its two NCS foes 9-1.

GIRLS PLAYOFFS Traveling to the North Bay is something YVHS soc-


cer is quickly becoming accustomed to. The girls will venture north for a third time in a week this Wednesday to meet No. 1 Analy (17-2-3) in Sebastopol. Ygnacio girls are seeded 12th and among the 32 teams in NCS semi-finals no other remaining team is seeded lower than sixth. The Warriors (10-6-1) first

See Soccer, page 9

Prep sports roundup: James named MDHS football coach JAY BEDECARRÉ Concord Pioneer

Mt. Diablo recently announced the hiring of Donald James as it head football coach following the resignation of first-year coach Vontre Mason who welcomed twin sons to his family last November. James is the fourth head coach for the Red Devils since 2014, a period in which they only won three games. DJ, as the new coach goes by, has worked on the MDHS campus for four years and has been coaching varsity linemen at his alma mater, Oakland Tech, for nine seasons. Athletic Director Ryan Leuschen says, “Coach DJ has hit the ground running and has already put together his nonleague schedule. He is meeting consistently with the kids and is making strides in building the football program as we speak.” James, who turned 28 on Valentine’s Day, is the nephew of Ygnacio Valley football coach Clyde Byrd. College Park is also in the head coaching search. The Fal-

new MdHS football coach donald James.

cons will be hiring their fifth coach in four years following the 26-year reign of Bill Kepler which ended in 2014. DE LA SALLE ADDS TO DAUNTING SCHEDULE

De La Salle recently added to its already-daunting fall football schedule by scheduling Sacramento-area powerhouse Folsom in the season-opener on Aug. 17 in Concord. The Spartans had previously

Jay Bedecarré

released its 10-game schedule that was to begin with Amador Valley coming to Owen Owens Field Aug. 17. When Folsom sought a game against the Spartans the Pleasanton school stepped aside. DLS and AV will resume playing one another in 2019, according to Spartans head coach Justin Alumbaugh. His Folsom counterpart, Kris Richardson, is a College Park High grad. Undefeated Bulldog teams faced DLS twice

in the NorCal playoffs, losing lopsided games in 2012 and 2013. Those defeats led sections in the north to setup an automatic Open Division berth to the State Bowl so that a top NorCal team wouldn’t be eliminated before State, usually by De La Salle which has never missed the State Bowl since its inception in 2006. Folsom won three State Bowl championships in 2010, 2014 and 2017. Folsom returns 17 starters from a 16-0 CIF State Division I-AA championship team, including Sacramento Bee Players of the Year heavily-recruited receiver Joe Ngata and quarterback Kaiden Bennett. De La Salle’s schedule doesn’t get any easier after the opener as it includes games against powerhouses from Utah and Nevada as well as Northern California. The Spartans have come up short in the past two CIF Open Division championship games and their last three losses have been by a combined 109-49 against three of the top teams in

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America. They will host Nevada 4A champion Bishop Gorman on Sept. 14 hoping to avenge last year’s 34-7 loss in Las Vegas. Their lone out-of-state game is Sept. 29 when they travel to Salt Lake City to meet East, who beat the Spartans in Concord in 2016 23-21. East came up short in the Utah 4A championship last fall. Closer to home DLS meets defending 2A state champion St. Francis in Mountain View. The Spartans beat the Lancers last year 31-7. Three-time state champs Central Catholic of Modesto visits Owen Owens Field Aug. 24. They also will host Bishop O’Dowd during a busy Aug. schedule of three games. The Spartans have two highly recruited incoming seniors in Henry To’oto’o and Isaiah Foskey. The last time they won the State championship in 2015 they also had two top recruits in Boss Tagaloa and Devin Asiasi, both now at UCLA. To’oto’o is going to play in the prestigious 2019 All-American Bowl while Foskey is con-

firmed for the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii next January.


Carondelet’s swim team is practicing with new coach Dan Cottam in the Natalie Coughlin Aquatics Center in Walnut Creek. However, the Cougars will not hold any meets there until 2019. They will continue to compete this spring across the street from their campus at De La Salle. In the future Cottam expects that DLS and Carondelet will split their co-ed dual meets between the two pools. The new pool, named in honor of Olympic champion Coughlin (Class of 2000), is being dedicated this week. Carondelet hopes its softball and lacrosse/soccer fields on the site will be ready for use during this spring season.

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February 23, 2018

Concord Pioneer • League his freshman season and second last year, both times getting berths in the North Coast Section playoffs. This season Arabian averaged about 15 points a game playing both guard positions. “Cole has a great work ethic and passion for the game,” says first-year head coach Mike Jaime. “He is always trying to get better!” During the off season the 5-8 Minuteman co-captain plays basketball for the Blaze AAU team from the All Out Sports League program.

Athlete Spotlight

Cole Arabian

Grade: Junior School: Concord High School Sports: Basketball, Cross Country, Track & Field Arabian keeps busy as a junior at Concord High School. A three-year member of the varsity basketball team he took up cross country last fall and this spring, now that basketball has wrapped up, he is going to

run the 1500 meters on the Minuteman track team. Concord was third in the just-concluded Diablo Athletic League Valley Division with a 5-5 record. His team was first in the final season of the Diablo Valley Athletic

The Concord Pioneer congratulates Cole and thanks Athlete Spotlight sponsors Dr. Laura Lacey & Dr. Christopher Ruzicka who have been serving the Clayton and Concord area for 25 years at Family Vision Care Optometry. Do you know a young athlete who should be recognized? Perhaps he or she has shown exceptional sportsmanship, remarkable improvement or great heart for the sport. Send your nomination for the Pioneer Athlete Spotlight today to

Soccer, from page 8

traveled to Marin Academy to meet and defeat No. 5 seed Terra Linda. They then won a shootout 4-2 last Saturday in San Anselmo to eliminate No. 4 Drake. In Division I Carondelet is a game away from reaching another NCS finals. The Cougars last won the NCS crown in 2011 and the last two years they’ve lost heartbreakers in the Section championship match. Carondelet (16-5-4) beat Berkeley 4-1 and then blanked Amador Valley 5-0 in its opening two games. In the semi-finals the Cougars visit Foothill (12-1-9) in Pleasanton Wednesday. Among the Foothill wins is a 1-0 victory over Carondelet in January EBAL play. The Falcons are seeded second, one spot

Page 9

ahead of Carondelet. The other all-EBAL semifinal pits No.1 Monte Vista against No. 4 California. Clayton Valley Charter went 24 games without tasting defeat before the Eagles lost 1-0 to Foothill in the NCS quarterfinals. Tenth seeded CVCHS (16-1-8) had shutout Dublin 3-0 in its NCS opener, the 20th time they held their opponent scoreless while surrendering only five goals all season. The Eagles finished just behind Northgate in the DAL Valley division with a 703 record to the Broncos 8-02. The Northgate (13-4-2) girls beat visiting Ukiah 1-0 in their D-II opener but lost to second seed Maria Carrillo 2-0 in the quarterfinals.

32 senior athletes ink fall college commitments JAY BEDECARRÉ Concord Pioneer

Six local high schools feted 32 seniors this month as they signed their National Letters of Intent committing to play their sport starting this fall in colleges from coast to coast. Carondelet, Clayton Valley Charter, Concord, Northgate, Ygnacio Valley and De La Salle had student athletes formalize their college choices in front of fellow students at their schools. Among the signees at the six schools the main surprise announcement came from De La Salle’s Tuli Letuligasenoa who was attired in the purple of the University of Washington at the signing in the Spartans gym. The defensive lineman had verbally committed to the USC Trojans last spring but very late in the recruiting process took a campus visit in Seattle. “After my visit to Washington I just had a better feeling,” he told the media about his


Hunter Simmers

last-minute switch. “I just fit them better. That was it.” His teammate for three years on the DLS varsity, running back Kairee Robinson committed to San Jose State, thus remaining a Spartan. Both Robinson and Letuligasenoa suffered through injury-plagued senior seasons. Over the three years they won one State championship, two runner-up finishes and helped their teams compile a 35-5 record. Olympian Alexi Sancov of Northgate and the Terrapins Swim Team of Concord signed with USC. He competed for his native Moldova in the 200-meter freestyle in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Goalkeeper Amanda Zodikoff is part of the No. 1 nationally-ranked Diablo FC 00/99 club soccer team. The Clayton Valley Charter senior will be going to the University of California. During her many years with Diablo FC she trained with the club’s goalkeeper coach, Henry Foulk, who is the Cal men’s keeper coach and served on the staff of the United States Men’s National Team under Jurgen Klinsmann. Beside Zodikoff, Devin Lozano from Carondelet, Brandon Mello of CVCHS and Ian Villers of Northgate committed to Cal, the most for one school during this signing period. Overall, 25 schools got NLI from local athletes with the Pacific 12 getting commitments for Cal, UCLA, Oregon State, Washington and USC. Bay Area schools with signees also included Notre Dame de Namur, San Jose State, Sonoma State, Domini-

CARONDELET Amelia Clute, devin Lozano, Makenzie Miller, Cassidy Tshimbalanga and Abbigale Young

can University and San Francisco State. Seven soccer and six lacrosse and football commitments headed the 13 sports played by the 32 athletes. Mello and De'Vaughn Brown of Ygnacio Valley had signed during the new December NLI period but were honored by their schools this month. NLI signees (sport and college):

CARONDELET Amelia Clute (Rowing, Cornell University) Devin Lozano (Soccer, California) Makenzie Miller (Softball, Colorado State) Cassidy Tshimbalanga (Soccer, University of Southern California) Abbigale Young (Lacrosse, United States Naval Academy) CLAYTON VALLEY CHARTER

James Essex (Lacrosse, Dominican University) Amanda Zodikoff (Soccer, California) Dakota Harman (Lacrosse, Nevada) Kellen Dresdow (Soccer, Notre Dame de Namur University) Emily Kaleal (Soccer, San Francisco State) Brandon Mello (Football, California)

CONCORD Hunter Simmers (Football, Ripon College)

DE LA SALLE Chris Koenig, Tuli Letuligasenoa, nohl Patterson, Kairee robinson and Quin Seivold

NORTHGATE dymphna Ueda, Alexi Sancov, Semisi Saluni and Gillian Maraccini

DE LA SALLE Chris Koenig (Lacrosse, Roanoke College) Tuli Letuligasenoa (Football, University of Washington) Nohl Patterson (Cross Country, Claremont McKenna College) Kairee Robinson (Football, San Jose State) Quin Seivold (Lacrosse, Swarthmore College) NORTHGATE Ian Villers (Baseball, California) Ali Collins (Volleyball, Chico State) Alexi Sancov (Swimming, University of Southern California) Ivan Ostapenko (Soccer, Chico State) Emma Smethurst (Swimming, UCLA) Gillian Maraccini (Cheer, UNLV) Semisi Saluni (Football, Oregon State) Zack Lentz (Lacrosse, Dominican University) Maddie Cassidy (Track and Field,

Piedmont College) Audrey Webostad (Water Polo, Sonoma State University) Hannah Brajkovich (Softball, Pomona Pitzer)

CLAYTON VALLEY CHARTER James Essex, Amanda Zodikoff,

dakota Harman, Kellen dresdow and Emily Kaleal

Jazmine Hanley (Softball, Cal Lutheran) Dymphna Ueda (Golf, Ursuline College) Holly Brown (Soccer, Sonoma

State University)

YGNACIO VALLEY De'Vaughn Brown (Football, Wyoming)

Page 10

Concord Pioneer •

De LaSalle defends NCS team title, Northgate falls in D-II wrestling finals to rival De La Salle last lost a match in the North Coast Section Division I dual team tournament to James Logan 34-22 in the 2014 championship match. Since that time the Spartans have rolled off 12 consecutive victories to win four straight NCS titles. During that time, they have never scored fewer than 55 points in any of those matches. De La Salle has won very NCS dual championships since 2007 except for that 2014 runner-up finish. This winter’s NCS was no different as the Spartans won lopsided matches to Amador Valley, Castro valley and Liberty. DLS defeated the Brentwood school in the finals for the fourth successive year by a 65-12 count. Northgate won the Section D-II dual team title last winter but the Broncos were denied a

repeat title by crosstown rivals Las Lomas 44-30 in the finals. Northgate was top seed and, following a first-round bye, defeated Albany 67-12 before losing to the Knights. Last year’s loss to Northgate is the only defeat LL has suffered while winning dual titles in 2015, 2016 and this winter. With the NCS dual team title in their trophy case, De La Salle dominated the East Bay Athletic League championships last weekend as they tuned up for the North Coast Section championships at James Logan in Union City this Friday and Saturday. The Spartans have won the team championship eight of the past nine years, taking third in 2014. The top three wrestlers in each NCS weight class qualify for the State Meet in Bakersfield Mar. 2-3.

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Does Spring Training really matter? Every year, the same debate ensues. Does it really matter how your baseball team does in Spring Training or is it absolutely meaningless? After all, the only two NFL teams in history to go 016 both had undefeated preseasons (2008 Lions and 2017 Browns). The answer is not black and white. While it really does mean zilch if your team wins a lot of games in the spring, there are other things that do matter. For example, the lineup your team puts out there towards the end of March gives you a preview of what to expect in the MLB season and the performance of backof-the-rotation starting pitchers dictates who will be a starter and who will be a reliever (or minor leaguer) come April. Of course, it is also important to note any injuries sustained in Spring Training. Here is what to pay attention to during Spring Training for the Bay’s two MLB teams

JACOB SAMUELS SPORTS TALK after they finished reporting to Spring Training this week. The Giants, who play their March slate in Scottsdale, Arizona, will have to figure out two key things: their center fielder and their final two starting pitchers. Recent signees Austin Jackson and Gregor Blanco are expected to vie for starting centerfielder. There is also a possibility that the Giants will go out and sign another veteran outfielder, such as speedster Jarrod Dyson. If they keep the status

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The family-oriented Gehringer Park community swim team for swimmers ages 4-18 begins accepting online registration this Saturday, Feb. 24. An in-person registration day will be held on Saturday, Mar. 24, from 9-11 a.m. at the pool in Concord at 1790 Lynwood Dr. For more information visit

A multi-discipline martial arts class began this Tuesday at the Concord Senior Center, 2727 Parkside Cir. Master Ping Zhen Cheng is one of the few teachers to have inherited the vast knowledge of five systems of internal martial arts style and healing arts. Exercises performed will stress the use of Universal Energy of Ki, core energy exercises, self-defense applications and partner drills incorporating six martial arts: Sun Style Tai Chi, ‘8 Trigram Palm’, Xingyi, Tongbei, Yiquan and Aikido. To register visit, course 105908. For more information contact Dario Sanchez at 671-3017.


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Ygnacio Valley High’s Athletic Hall of Fame is inducting its newest class on May 19, including swim coach Gino Barsuglia and the 1971 football team. The committee is looking for alumni who swam for the Warriors under coach Barsuglia to invite them to join in honoring him posthumously. Coach Rick Silvey will be accepting on behalf of Barsuglia to share the achievements of his YVHS swim teams winning five DVAL championships and five consecutive North Coast Section championships from 1969-74. Swimmers can get in touch with YVHS via email at The committee is also trying to find nearly 20 members of the ’71 football team. Contact Jim Grace at if you are aware of team members.

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St. Bonaventure CYO spring track and field program is open to boys and girls in second through eighth grades. Practices are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 4-5:15 p.m. at Newhall Park. Saturday meets begin in March and the season runs through May 12, culminating with the Oakland Diocese championships. For more information call 826-7426, email head coach Matt Tillman at or go to

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quo, it would be my guess that the righthanded hitting Jackson will platoon with the lefthanded Blanco, at least until one pulls away from the other in April. San Francisco’s rotation will feature veteran workhorses Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija at the top, with uncertainty at the bottom. The most likely candidates are 2014 first round pick Tyler Beede and Chris Stratton, who started 10 games last season. A final thing to watch for the Giants is whether reliever Will Smith, who had Tommy John surgery last March, will be ready for the start of the season. They just signed lefty Tony Watson for the bullpen. Coincidentally, the A’s also have centerfield and the rotation as Spring Training keys when they start playing games out in Mesa, Arizona. However, the centerfield issue isn’t a question of who will be playing, but whether their hopeful starter will be healthy, and the

rotation issue is front end, not back end. One of the big pieces Oakland received in last July’s Sonny Gray trade was centerfielder Dustin Fowler. He is recovering from a knee injury and hopes to be able to play in Spring Training games by the beginning of March. Unfortunately, injuries are never that simple, so managing his successful return from injury is a key to the A’s preseason. With Kendall Graveman as the “ace” of the rotation it will be interesting to see if he develops during the spring. Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton and Paul Blackburn are also all young starters that the A’s hope take strides this season. And stride-taking starts in February. The one beautiful thing about sports is that every season is a new opportunity. The road to October starts now. Email any comments or questions to


Junior Optimist Baseball/Softball League is accepting spring league registration for ages 4-15 for boys JOBL and Babe Ruth TERRAPIN WINTER-SPRING SWIM CLINICS baseball and girls ages 6-14 for softball. There are also yearSTART THIS SUNDAY Terrapins Swim Team is offering winter and spring stroke round travel team opportunities for Patriot baseball and and turn clinics on Sundays starting Feb. 25 and ending Apr. 22 Glory/Lady Liberty softball teams. For more information email by coaches Dan Cottam and Brian Marker at the new Natalie or visit Coughlin Aquatics Complex in Walnut Creek. The clinics are open to recreation swimmers ages 6-18 who want to get a jump REGISTRATION OPEN FOR ALL OUT SPORTS LEAGUES SPRING PROGRAMS on the summer season. The nationally-ranked Terrapins are also Youth basketball and volleyball leagues and adult wiffle ball taking signups for swimmers ages six and above of all levels for tournament and softball league are scheduled by All Out Sports their year-round swim team. For info visit Leagues in Clayton this spring. AOSL is taking spring registration online. For complete information on All Out Sports MDSA SPRING SOCCER LEAGUE leagues, clinics and other programs, visit ACCEPTING WAITLIST APPLICATIONS Registration is still open for Mt Diablo Soccer Association’s 24TH CVCHS ATHLETIC BOOSTERS spring season. The program is open to boys and girls under 5CRAB FEED & AUCTION MAR. 10 U19 divisions. The older divisions are co-ed teams. Games start Clayton Valley Charter High School Athletic Boosters hold in mid-March. MDSA AYSO Region 223 serves Clayton, Concord and surrounding communities. Registrants now may be their 24th annual Crab Feed and Auction on Saturday, Mar. 10, placed on a waitlist. For more details and to register visit mdsoc- at Centre Concord. Attendees must be 21 or older. For more info email or go to for info and to order tickets online for a night of food, drink, dancing, auctions and raffle prizes. GEHRINGER PARK SWIM TEAM ONLINE


with a twelve-month agreement.

February 23, 2018

Forest Park Swim Team coach Jeff Mellinger is offering spring swim clinics starting next Tuesday, Feb. 27, and running five weeks through the end of March. The afternoon and evening sessions improve strokes for swimmers of all skill levels ages 4-18 before the start of summer rec swimming season on Monday, Apr 9. The Flyers will be holding team signups at their pool Thursday, Mar. 8, from 6-8 p.m. and Sunday, Mar. 11, 2-4 p.m. Contact coach Mellinger at for details.


Springwood swim team will hold signups on Sunday, Mar. 25, from 2-4 p.m. at Sports Basement in Walnut Creek. Preseason practices begin on Monday, April 23, in its newly remodeled pool. For more info email team director Kristi Buchholz at or visit


The area’s largest annual youth soccer tournament, Concord Cup, returns for its landmark 25th season at a variety of local parks May 19-20. Boys and girls club and recreation teams from under 9 (2009) through U19 (1999) are eligible to participate. Diablo FC, Mt. Diablo Soccer and Concord AYSO co-sponsor the tournament. Visit for complete information and to register a team to participate.


Walnut Country head coach Adrian Lohse is offering a spring stroke clinic from Mar. 5-29. This program is intended to give swimmers of all abilities ages 5-18 the chance to improve their technique through stroke progressions that do not require extensive conditioning. Additionally, the spring clinic has a session intended to teach swimming basics to first time swimmers five and younger who are not ready for full laps. The clinics are open to swimmers from all teams. More information and to register for the summer season visit


Diablo FC under 8 through U19 competitive teams (birth years 1999-2010) hold ongoing player evaluations for prospective new players with formal tryouts scheduled for May. Visit to get more information on the club and signup for the appropriate age group evaluation.


Concord Parks and Recreation offers inclusive and specialized programs for people with disabilities and is running a bowling program for those 18 years or older every Tuesday through Feb. 27 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Clayton Valley Bowl. “It is our goal to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to our programs and that the experience is successful and meaningful,” said program coordinator Dario Sanchez. For more information about this program and other opportunities this year, contact Sanchez at 671-3017. To register go to


Oakhurst Orcas and head coach Jasmine Castillo have scheduled meet and greet registration on Wednesdays, Mar. 28 and Apr.18, from 6:30-8 p.m. at Oakhurst Country Club. Early registration discounts are given to families that register before Mar. 28. Registration forms are available at under the forms tab. Spring practices begin Monday, Apr. 23.

February 23, 2018

Concord Pioneer •

Clayton Valley, Carondelet face pressure as No. 1 seeds in North Coast Section JAY BEDECARRÉ Concord Pioneer

For Carondelet High basketball, getting the No. 1 seed in the North Coast Section girls basketball playoffs is business as usual. However, for Clayton Valley Charter hearing the call that their boys basketball team is the top seed in Division I boys is a unique accomplishment. The Ugly Eagles (24-2) of coach Eric Bamberger started this season with 18 consecutive wins before losing at Campolindo in double overtime. They later lost to Las Lomas, which won the Diablo Athletic League Foothill Division with a 9-1 record to Clayton Valley’s 8-2. In the playoffs Las Lomas is the No. 2 seed in Division II and Campo has the same spot in D-III. Carondelet (18-8), on the other hand, is the familiar top seed as defending Division I champions. They were moved up to D-I a year ago after winning 11 D-II NCS championships between 2003 and 2014. This is the Cougars seventh consecutive year as a No. 1 girls Section seed. Before the playoff draw was announced Bamberger felt his team should be seeded No. 1 but was by no means overly confident. The coach and his players were at Ed’s Mudville Grill in Clayton waiting to see the results of the NCS seeding committee’s work. Also, on hand was his daughter Ali, the standout Carondelet player. “Looking at all the categories (strength of schedule, rankings, common opponents) we’re top ranked, except for

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The Ugly Eagles of coach Eric Bamberger watched the nCS basketball playoffs selection show on the big screens at Ed’s Mudville Grill in Clayton last Sunday. The players and their coach let out a roar when their top seed was finally announced as the last of the 12 nCS basketball brackets was unveiled. The no. 1 seed not only was recognition of the team’s record-breaking season but also gives them a bye before starting play in dan della Gym Friday night against the winner of the Monte Vista at dougherty Valley game in the opening round.

league champions,” he said while saying Dublin or Heritage might get the top spot at Section. Those schools ended up second and third. Defending D-I champs De La Salle (20-7) is seeded fifth, where they could meet the crosstown Eagles in the semi-finals. Bamberger’s hopes for a first (or second seed) beyond the recognition for his team’s excellent year was to get a firstround bye. Top scorer, Nick Klarman, dislocated his shoulder last week during Senior Night and the coach was counting on the few extra days of recovery the bye would give Klarman. The will meet the winner of the Monte Vista at Dougherty Valley game Friday night in Dan Della Gym. Last year the No. 10 seeded Eagles won their opening NCS game over Foothill before

JAY BEDECARRÉ Concord Pioneer


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dropping a 62-58 game to second-seeded Heritage. De La Salle was the third seed by upended Heritage in the semifinals and top seed Dublin in the finals. Last year’s DAL co-MVPs Klarman and Garrett Pascoe have been leading the Eagles all season. Pascoe has shattered three long-time school records this year including scoring 49 points in the loss to Campolindo, beating the 1968 singlegame scoring record set by Marc Lee in 1968. The fouryear all-league guard who is headed to Boston University in the fall also has shattered the CVCHS single-season and career assists records. Ironically, Pascoe’s assist No. 173 that set the new season record (held by school Hall of Famer John Mahloch in 1982-86) was on a three-point shot by freshman

Clayton Mahloch, son of the record-holder. Northgate (22-4) boys were a perfect 10-0 in the DAL Valley Division. That fine season landed them with the 15th seed in D-II and they met Las Lomas in the opening round in a battle of Walnut Creek Tuesday. The Knights won an early January game with Northgate by 22 points. Coach Elgin Leslie’s Carondelet team will be looking for its 13th Section title. They open with a Friday night game against Amador Valley or American. The Cougars have played their most ambitious schedule ever meeting virtually every top team in NorCal after being exempted from a full East Bay Athletic League schedule. Clayton Valley Charter (1313) was seeded 15th in D-I and traveled to Brentwood Tuesday to face No. 2 seed Heritage.

CVCHS freshman synchro swimmer in top 10 at US National Team Trials

Photo couresy Walnut Creek Aquanuts

Page 11

Clayton Valley Charter High School freshman Marlena King just turned 15 and weeks before her birthday she made a significant mark in the swimming pool at the United States Synchronized Swimming National Team Trials in Buffalo, NY. She placed ninth in the 13-15 age group after Phases 1 and 2 of the National Trials. King will join four Walnut Creek Aquanuts teammates in April as the top 30 performers from the January trials compete for one of 12 places on the National Team.

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King is starting her sixth competitive season with the Aquanuts. She scored 68.048 at the Trials, 3.219 points behind first place Megumi Field of La Mirada, CA. The Aquanuts sent five swimmers to the 13-15 Trials and all ended up in the Top 30 to earn invites to Phase 3. All swimmers passed two rounds of compulsory figures before advancing to a land skills competition assessing strength and flexibility. Then the competitors from around the country swam a prescribed routine for a panel of judges to get a final ranking. In April, Phase 3 of the trials will cut the group down

to 12 for the final team selection. Those final 12 will represent the U.S. internationally at the Junior World Championships this July in Budapest, Hungary. “We were so proud of how all of our Aquanut athletes performed. They looked prepared and it was great to see all five make it to Phase 3,” said coach and 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Tammy McGregor. WCA will also host the West Zone Championship at the Clarke Memorial Aquatic Center in Walnut Creek Mar. 1-4. All age groups will be competing with the top placers in each event qualifying for the U.S. National Championships in April.

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Concord Pioneer •

February 23, 2018

‘Beguiled’ an entrancing musical theatre journey


STAGE STRUCK If you love the songs of Rodgers and Hart, you won’t want to miss Brentwood Theatre’s production of “Beguiled Again,” playing March 2-4 at the Mt. Diablo Event Center, 1700 Trilogy Parkway, Brentwood, and March 9-18 at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center, 1601 Civic Dr. Composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart worked together on 28 stage musicals and more than 500 songs from 1919 until Hart’s death in 1943. “Beguiled Again” offers a look at the astonishing breadth of their output in a cleverly compiled mix of melancholy, sardonic and romantic tunes as you travel on an ever-changing emotional journey through the hit songs of one of Broadway’s greatest duos.

Judy Potter

Mikah Kavita, left, Garth Petal and danielle Tortolani are featured in B8’s premiere of “Jubilee” in Concord.

For ticket information, visit Clayton Theatre Company gives a comedic look at the world of opera with its production of “Lend Me a Tenor,” running Mar. 8–24 at Endeavor Hall. In this screwball comedy, a world-famous tenor comes to Cleveland for a one night only appearance. He arrives late and, through a hilarious series of mishaps, is given a double dose of tranquilizers. In a fran-

Singers sought for ‘Gift of the Magi’ roles

Solo Opera is looking for singers for “The Gift of the Magi,” to be performed Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. Alexander Katsman will conduct, with rehearsals taking place in November. The opera features a lyric soprano in the role of Della, a mezzo soprano for Maggie, baritone for Jim, bass baritone for Henry and a trio of tenor, baritone and bass for the Magi. Local singers are preferred, and a stipend will be offered. To be considered for a role, send a resume, photo and recent recordings or links to

tic attempt to salvage the evening, the opera’s general manager persuades his assistant to impersonate the star. But then the star wakes up and chaos takes over with two opera stars running around not to mention two women in lingerie. For tickets and a complete cast list, go to Pittsburg Community Theatre turns to Shakespeare for its next production, “Taming of the Shrew.” The romantic comedy runs March 9-11 at the California Theatre, 351 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg. Call 925-427-1611 or go to for tickets. B8 Theatre presents the world premiere of “Jubilee” by local playwright Susan Sobeloff. “Jubilee” tells of a brutal civil war that ends in a fragile peace. Determined to rebuild a democratic government, two generations of a family struggle to love one another, keep each other safe and navigate conflicting political loyalties.

Peet Cocke directs the passionate new work, which runs through March 3 at B8 Theatre, 2292 Concord Blvd., Concord. For tickets, call 925-8908877 or go to 571. British playwright Alan Ayckbourn has been called “the comic poet of middle class life.” That is certainly the case for his comedy “Woman in Mind,” which runs March 124 at Lafayette’s Town Hall Theatre, 3535 School St. Trapped in a lackluster marriage with an unappreciative family, a middle-aged woman accidentally trips over a rake and is knocked unconscious. When she awakes, she finds herself surrounded by her ideal fantasy family. As her real and imaginary worlds begin to collide, the lines between truth and fiction blur – giving her fantasies a comical and slightly nightmarish life of their own. Dennis Markam directs, with Suzie Shepard starring in the role of a lifetime. For tickets, call 925-283-1557 or go to Two wonderful local companies have planned a plethora of fun for the little theatergoers in your life. Both have taken beloved stories and made them into even better musicals. Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble presents its original musical, “Sleeping Beauty.” The story of the princess who fell asleep takes a fun twist as the audience tries to save Sleeping Beauty from the spinning wheel. Where is her true prince to awaken her with her kiss? With actors making their way into the audience and encouraging participation from all ages, this family-friendly

musical provides an exciting live theater experience you will never forget. “Sleeping Beauty” runs March 8-11 at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts. For tickets, call 925-943-SHOW or visit Meanwhile, East Bay Children’s Theatre presents “It Must Be Pinocchio.” The beloved tale of the little wooden puppet comes to life in a new way in artistic director Ron Lytle’s exuberant musical. After Geppetto’s BF (Blue Fairy!) brings the wooden puppet to life, Pinocchio begins an exciting journey to becoming a real live boy. Along the way, he meets a ragtag pair of con-men (a fox and a cat), a band of high-kicking razzle-dazzle actors, a wicked theatrical producer and even a giant whale. Lots of fast-paced action, singing and dancing, plus broad comedy for the children and a generous dose of humor for the adults. The show plays March 4 at the Firehouse Arts Center, 4444 Railroad Ave., Pleasanton; March 11 at the

out in his parents’ restaurant by drawing all of their signs and menu boards by hand. After graduating, he worked for many years as a lettering artist for major greeting card companies. When his father was terminally ill in 2010, Savakis offered to cook breakfast during one of his last visits. His father insisted on sitting in the kitchen so he could describe exactly how to make his scrambled eggs, step by step, just how he liked them. As a tribute to his restaurateur father after he died, Savakis wrote and illustrated a recipe card for those special scrambled eggs – just how his

father would have made them. He uploaded it to They Draw and Cook, a Website where artists from around the world share their illustrated recipe cards, and his passion for drawing was reignited. He and his husband have always loved to cook, so contributing to this site is an ideal way to keep his creative skills sharp. “For me, cooking and drawing truly feed each other,” he muses. Savakis has been enjoying his exploration of Concord so much that he drew a fun map of the downtown area that highlights buildings he

Orinda Library Auditorium, 26 Orinda Way; and March 31 at Del Valle Theatre, 1963 Tice Valley Blvd., Walnut Creek. For more information, Sally Hogarty is well known around the Bay Area as a newspaper columnist, theatre critic and working actress. She is the editor of the Orinda News. Send comments to

Photo courtesy East Bay Children’s Theatre

Kris Williams is Pinocchio, riley Hyde is Cat and Mary Bishop is Fox in “it Must Be Pinocchio.”

Stu Selland

Craig Souza, left, Suzie Shepard and Michael Sally star in “Women in Mind” at Town Hall Theatre.

Artist plans community book for Concord

Alex Savakis, a relative newcomer to Concord, identifies several buildings in Concord that he will highlight in a new community book

Alex Savakis has lived in Concord for only about a year and a half, but he already sees plenty of community pride among our residents. “I grew up in a steel town in Ohio. My husband John and I have moved around a bit during our 24 years together, but we’re really enjoying everything Concord has to offer,” he says. Savakis calls himself a “visual storyteller.” He drew comic book characters in high school and has degrees in art history and graphic design, but his affinity for illustration and lettering really began with his family. During college, he helped





thinks are special. He’s planning to write, illustrate and publish a book for Concord about how people feel about many of the buildings. “I had drawn several buildings from my hometown of Warren, Ohio, which the residents really loved, and I’d

See Arts, page 14

February 23, 2018

CALENDAR Concord Pioneer •



Tuesdays Farmers’ Market

Year round, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Todos Santos Plaza, downtown Concord.

Second Thursday of the Month Advance Health Care Directives

Legal clinic to prepare and notarize advance health care directives for seniors 60 and older in Contra Costa County. 9:15 11:15 a.m. Concord Senior Center, 2727 Parkside Circle. Free. Call for appointment (925) 671-3320.

Feb. 27, Mar. 6 District Elections Public Hearings

Comment on draft of district map(s). 6:30 p.m. Concord Civic Center, City Council Chamber, 1950 Parkside Drive.

Mar. 18 VIBE Beer Release Party

Beer release party and business expo. 12 – 2 p.m. The Hop Grenade, 2151 Salvio St. Free. For more information, contact Pedro at (925) 671-3048.


Mar. 3 Birthday Celebration

The Clayton Community Library Foundation celebrates its birthday. Refreshments follow annual meeting. Open to the public. 10 a.m. Clayton Community Library, Hoyer Hall, 6125 Clayton Road. Free.

Mar. 4 Chili Cook-off

Contestants must register. Public enjoys samples after judging is complete. 10 a.m. Prizes awarded at 1 p.m. Clayton Club Saloon, 6096 Main St. (925) 673-0440.

Mar. 8 – 24 “Lend Me A Tenor”

Madcap, screwball comedy presented by the Clayton Theatre Company. Endeavor Hall, 6008 Center St. $15-$25. (925) 222-9106.

Mar. 23 - 25 Creekside Arts

Arts, entertainment, environmental education. This year’s theme, “The Healing Power of Creativity.” Fri. 6 – 8 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sun. 12 – 5 p.m. Clayton Library, 6125 Clayton Road. Free admission.


Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve programs are available for registration through Parking fees may apply. For additional information, contact Black Diamond Visitor Center at (510) 544-2750 or

Feb. 24 Early Bloomers

Some flowers can’t wait until spring. 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Meet at Black Diamond Mines.

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

Feb. 25 Eagle Peek Hike

Magnificent view of the Diablo Summit. 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Meet at Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center.

Mar. 3 Early Bloomers

Early season wildflower walk up Mitchell Canyon. 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Meet at Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center. Response required:

Mar. 9 Moses Rock Ridge Hike

Explore the wild northwestern slopes of the mountain. 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Meet at Diablo Ranch Trailhead.

Mar. 10 Wildflower Walk

Diverse display of spring wildflowers. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Meet at Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center.

Mar. 18 A Natural History of Mount Diablo

Learn about the animals and plants on Mount Diablo. Drop in 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Summit Museum.

Mar. 18 Back Canyon and Diablo Falls Hike

Ideal time to see wildflowers and water on the rugged north side of Mount Diablo. 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Meet at Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center.

Save Mount Diablo’s Discover Diablo is a free public hike series. Go to for more information.

Mar. 17 Oak Hill Lane Family Saunter

Discover the greening landscape of this park-like property. 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Meet at Park n’ Ride, 1000 Peacock Creek Drive, Clayton. Reservations required.


Thru Feb. 24 “Red Speedo”

A sharp and compelling play. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $40-$56.

Thru Feb. 25 “HeLa”

Presented by Women of Words Productions. 8 p.m. Campbell Theater, 636 Ward St., Martinez. $20-$22. (510) 881-6463.

Thru Mar. 3 “Jubilee”

In a dystopian future, brutal civil war ends in a fragile peace. B8 Theatre Company, 2292 Concord Blvd., Concord. $15-$25. (925) 890-8877.

Feb. 23 “Improv For Good”

Presented by Funny Bones Productions. 7:45 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $15. (925) 943-7469.


Feb. 23 – 25 “Mr. Toad’s Mad Adventures”

Presented by El Campanil Children’s Theatre. El Campanil Theatre, 602 W. Second St., Antioch. $9-$13. (925) 757-9500.

Feb. 24 “Come Together: The Beatles Concert Experience”

Presented by West Coast Performing Arts. 7:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $45. (925) 943-7469.

Feb. 24 “Pittsburg Live!”

The Pittsburg Arts and Community Foundation hosts bands with local roots. 8 p.m. California Theatre, 351 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg. $21. (925) 427-1611.

Feb. 25 “A Tribute to Glenn Miller and Tex Beneke”

Presented by West Coast Theater Company. 2 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $47-$59. (925) 943-7469.

Feb. 25 Michael Schade

Tenor. Presented by Chamber Music San Francisco. 2:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $55. (925) 943-7469.

Feb. 25 Piano Recital

Presented by Mina with Love for Piano. 6:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $25. (925) 943-7469.

Mar. 4 March Concert

Presented by Diablo Wind Symphony. 7:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $12. (925) 943-7469.

Mar. 4 “New Day Rising”

Page 13

Mar. 20 “From the Opera House to Broadway – A Carmen Symphony”

Presented by Walnut Creek Concert Band. 7:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $17.50. (925) 943-7469.

Mar. 22 24th Anniversary Celebration

Presented by Diablo Ballet. 6:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $59. (925) 943-7469.


Mar. 2 – 18 “Twelfth Night”

A tale of unrequited love. Diablo Valley College, 321 Golf Club Road, Pleasant Hill. $11-$21.


Feb. 24 Jazz Concert

Performed by Matt Zebley’s Oversized Quartet. 7:30 p.m. Clayton Valley Presbyterian, 1578 Kirker Pass Road, Clayton. $15.

Mar. 3 Movie Night

Movie and panel discussion for “Same Kind of Different as Me.” 6:08 p.m. Concord International Adventist Church, 1655 West St., Concord. Free.


2nd and 4th Sundays Pancake Breakfast

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

Presented by Contra Costa Wind Symphony. 2 p.m. Lesher Center Feb. 24 for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $17. North Korean Refugee Benefit Concert (925) 943-7469. Including performance by Korean Choir of the Bay Area. Presented by the Mustard Seed Mission Society and Concord United Mar. 4 Methodist Church. 7 p.m. 1645 West St., Concord. Freewill offer“The Everly Brothers Experience” ing. Featuring the Zmed Brothers. 3 p.m. El Campanil Theatre, 602 W. Second St., Antioch. $12-$29. (925) Mar. 3 757-9500.

Mar. 8 – 11 “Sleeping Beauty”

Presented by Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $14. (925) 943-7469.

Mar. 9 – 11 “The Taming of the Shrew”

Annual Benefit Concert

Supporting the Delta Blues Festival. 7 – 10 p.m. El Campanil Theatre, 602 W. Second St., Antioch. $15-$40. (925) 757-9500.

Mar. 3 “Rock the CASA”

A William Shakespeare comedy. California Theatre, 351 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg. $20-$25. (925) 427-1611.

Dan Ashley presents this charity concert featuring Melissa Etheridge to benefit Court Appointed Special Advocates and Friends of Camp Concord. 8 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $100-$250. (925) 943-7469.

Presented by Brentwood Theater Company. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $30. (925) 943-7469.

Concord High School Jazz Band performs. Benefits high school students in alternative education programs, Mt. Diablo Unified. 2 – 4 p.m. Heather Farm, 1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek. $10-$25.

Mar. 9 – 18 “Beguiled Again: The Songs of Rodgers and Hart” Mar. 9 – 25 “The Importance of Being Ernest”

Presented by Onstage Theatre. Campbell Theater, 636 Ward St., Martinez. (925) 518-3277.

Mar. 10 “The Magician is In”

Performed by Nick Federoff. 8 p.m. El Campanil Theatre, 602 W. Second St., Antioch. $10-$20. (925) 757-9500.

Mar. 14 “St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland”

An authentic St. Patrick’s Day celebration. 7 p.m. California Theatre, 351 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg. $25-$35. (925) 427-1611.

Mar. 14 – 17 “Percussion Discussion”

Ken Bergmann is back with his smashing spectacle of drums, cowbells, chairs and more. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $14. (925) 943-7469.

Mar. 15 Annual Concert

Performed by The Saklan School. 4:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. Free. (925) 943-7469.

Mar. 16 “Journey Unauthorized: A Live Rock Tribute to Journey”

Presented by West Coast Performing Arts. 8 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $45. (925) 943-7469.

Mar. 17 Scan-a-thon

Preserve family documents in digital form. Tour center and archives. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Contra Costa County History Center, 724 Escobar St., Martinez. $10 suggested donation. Drop in or register at

Mar. 17 – 18 “Mozart Requiem”

Presented by California Symphony. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $42-$72. (925) 943-7469.

Mar. 18 Branden and James

Performing classical covers of pop songs. 3 p.m. El Campanil Theatre, 602 W. Second St., Antioch. $12-$29. (925) 757-9500.

Mar. 18 “Israeli Chamber Project”

Presented by Chamber Music San Francisco. 2:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $55. (925) 943-7469.

Mar. 4 “Jazz in the Afternoon”

Mar. 9 – 10 “College Notes”

Amazing evening with some top colleges and their award-winning a cappella groups. Benefits Diablo Regional Arts Association’s Education and Outreach Programs. 8 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $40. (925) 943-7469.

Mar. 24 Crab Feed

Dinner, dancing, auction. Benefits Blue Devils. 5 p.m. Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, 1201 West 10th St., Antioch. $55.


The Concord Library is at 2900 Salvio St. Programs are free unless otherwise noted. See full schedule of events at or (925) 646-5455. Thru Apr. 14: AARP Tax Help, Fri. and Sat., 10 a.m. 3:30 p.m. Registration required. Feb. 26: LEGO Building, 7 p.m. Feb. 26, Mar. 5: Kindergarten Countdown, 2 p.m. Registration required. Mar. 1: “The Darkest Hour,” 6:30 p.m. Mar. 4: Concord Knitting and Crotchet Group, 1:15 p.m. Mar. 5: Movie Monday, 7 p.m. Mar. 8: Red Cross Blood Drive, 12 – 6 p.m. Mar. 11: Concord Mystery Book Club, 2:30 p.m. Mar. 12: Family Game Night, 7 p.m.

The Clayton Library is at 6125 Clayton Road. Programs are free unless otherwise noted. See full schedule of events at or call (925) 673-0659. Thru Feb. 28: Elephant and Piggie Reading Club Feb. 26, Mar. 12: Clayton Knits, 1:30 p.m. Feb. 28: New Medicare Card, 7 p.m. Mar. 1: Dr. Seuss Craft Program, 4 p.m. Mar. 1, 15: Kindergarten Countdown, 2 p.m. Mar. 15: Clayton Library Book Club, 7 p.m.


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

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

1st and 3rd Wednesdays Concord Planning Commission

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

Page 14





Spring is the season for growth. Students in Mt. Diablo Unified schools are anxiously awaiting spring activities such as camps and field trips, news of college admittance and college tours, as well as perform-

Concord Pioneer •

Community involvement key to district’s success ances and exhibitions spotlighting their success. I encourage residents to look at local schools’ Websites for events, and I welcome you to attend our performances. Spring is also a time for reflection on our district’s growth. We have instituted a speaker series to hear from experts and to share ideas with our community. The district’s Community Speakers Series is provided to families to support goals of the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan

(LCAP). As part of the key goal for Parent/Family & Community Engagement, parents, families and community members can be become informed partners with MDUSD to support student learning. We have held two presentations: Social Media and Technology on Oct. 17 and Marijuana & Beyond: Teen Drug Use on Jan. 30. All MDUSD families, staff and community members are welcome at the remaining three. All events begin at 6 p.m.

Cyber Safety with “Above the Fray,” March 20, Northgate High School. School Readiness with First 5, April 18, Riverview Middle School. LCAP Budget, May 29, Concord High School. Visit for more information.

Dr. Nellie Meyer is Superintendent of Schools for MDUSD. Email questions or comments to

SAFE scholarship applications available now SAFE Credit Union is accepting applications for its 2018 scholarship program. Now in its 17th year, the program awards 10 outstanding college-bound seniors with $1,000 scholarships each. “Helping deserving students achieve their college dreams is a natural extension of the youth-focused activities we host and support yearround,” said SAFE president and CEO David Roughton. “The SAFE team is hard at work operating two on-campus branches at local high schools,

cessfully “Helping seniors live suc in their own homes.”

offering student-focused financial literacy workshops across the region and more – all in an effort to better prepare tomorrow’s leaders.” The scholarship committee will select awardees based on exceptional grade point averages, financial need, community involvement, letters of recommendation and personal statements. Eligible applicants must live or attend school in the 13 counties SAFE serves, which includes Contra Costa County. SAFE membership is not

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The application is available at and at all SAFE branches. Applications must be postmarked no later than March 12. Call (916) 979-7233 for more information.

Prison challenges ‘American Marriage’

Everyone Welcome –

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 4-6 p.m.



Think of marriage as a lovely pond, surrounded by flora and fauna. Then think of someone throwing a rather large rock into the pond. Can you see the ripples begin from where the rock falls? Can you see them moving ever outward until the entire pond has felt the effect of that rock? In “An American Marriage,” Roy and Celestial may not be perfectly matched, but they are crazy mad about each other and looking forward to the rest of their lives together. Then early in the marriage, the unthinkable happens. The rock is thrown, and the ripples begin. Think of the many things capable of disrupting our lives. Many marriages fail as the result of a child’s death. A military spouse might return home from war terribly injured, or someone could be maimed in an auto accident. Such events would likely affect not only the married couple but their parents and friends. Try to imagine what might happen if the rock thrown is a false accusation of rape. The charge moves swiftly through the justice system, with a guilty verdict and a sentence of 12 years incarceration. Author Tayari Jones introduces us to characters with whom we can easily identify. Roy and Celestial meet in college, introduced by Celestial’s childhood friend, Andre, the boy next door. The couples’ families both strongly believe in Roy’s innocence. In Roy’s voice, we get to know both sets of parents, Roy’s from a small town in Louisiana and Celestial’s from Atlanta. Celestial’s parents are both professionals, and Roy’s parents worked hard

Arts, from page 12

like to do that here to help celebrate Concord’s sesquicentennial this year,” he says. Savakis is on the hunt for residents’ personal stories about Concord buildings that hold special meaning. It could be a house, a business, a recreational facility, a historical space, etc. To submit a story for consideration, visit his new Website at Some of his art will be on display in a Concord Art

so their only son could go to college. Celestial’s lawyer uncle works to overturn Roy’s conviction. Family scenes are often depicted as humorous and selfdeprecating. Before and after Roy’s conviction, all such scenes illustrate a desire for what is best for their children. Except for the circumstances giving rise to Roy’s rush through court and conviction, there is no “otherness” to identify this black family’s suffering as any different from a white family’s. For the first two years of Roy’s incarceration, Celestial and both sets of parents visit Roy regularly. But Celestial, an emerging textile artist, finds the distance between Atlanta and the penitentiary in Louisiana more difficult when her art takes her to New York, where Andre brings Celestial more solace and comfort than Roy’s letters from jail. Roy’s mother also dies while Roy is incarcerated. Jones brings her novel to life chapter by chapter, telling the story in the voices of Roy, Celestial and Andre. Each character is worth our empathy. Even though things look impossible, we root for the marriage. I won’t say how the novel ends, but incarceration is most powerful. Nobody is untouched. In real life, bad things happen to good people, but love, loyalty, stamina and a bedrock of forgiveness are worth holding onto – no matter the odds. 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.’

Association Member Show during March at aRt Cottage, 2238 Mt. Diablo St., Concord. The public is invited to the artist reception, 1-4 p.m. March 10. More of his work can be seen on Lisa Fulmer is a mixed media artist, a small business marketing consultant, and president of the Concord Art Association. Visit for inspiration and information.

Best picture picks range from brilliant to just pretty good

serving Contra Costa County.

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Members, volunteers, and just plain curious. Learn the benefits of being part of CVV: ride service, computer help, handyman help, social activities

2 for the price of 1

required. Established in 1940, SAFE Credit Union provides a full range of financial solutions for consumers and small businesses through 21 service centers across the Sacramento region and a mortgage lending office

February 23, 2018



The Academy Award nominees for best picture this year do not include anything nearly as excellent as the last couple years. There is no “La La Land” or “Room.” There are simply nine films ranging from near perfect to pretty good. 1. “Lady Bird.” Greta Gerwig wrote and directed this unabashedly heartfelt ode to life as a teenager in 2002 suburban Sacramento. Saorsie Ronan keeps getting better as she takes on the role of the title character. Standout performances from Laurie Metcalf as an overbearing mom and Lucas Hedges give the film a depth lacking from most coming-of-age movies. A borderline masterpiece. 2. “Dunkirk.” Christopher Nolan never shies away from a difficult project. Using unwieldy 70 mm IMAX cameras, “Dunkirk” weaves three separate narratives into one pleasingly, cohesive story. Each narrative unfolds in a different timeframe only to slowly fuse over the course of the film. With sparse dialogue and mostly unrecognizable characters, it’s nothing short of miraculous that Nolan pulls off this stunner. 3. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Francis McDormand give career high performances in Martin McDonagh’s commentary on race and the law. McDormand plays a feisty mother who’s angry about the sheriff ’s department’s apparent lack of interest in solving her daughter’s murder. There might not be a more important film to come out of 2017. 4. “Get Out.” Jordan Peele breaks from TV comedy to direct a modern-day horror film. It’s the first of its genre since 1999 to be nominated for best picture. With a breakthrough performance by Daniel Kaluuya (nominated for best actor), “Get Out” transcends the horror genre by avoiding the usual tropes and focusing on personal, psychological terror. 5. “The Shape of Water.” Horror master Guillermo Del Toro delves into his romantic side in this beautiful, fantastic

fable. He perfectly portrays the look and feel of the Cold War 1950s, which permeates every aspect of the film in which a captured fish-man (Doug Jones) elicits the sympathies of a mute cleaning woman (Sally Hawkins). Michael Shannon is positively vicious as the head of security. 6. “Darkest Hour.” Joe Wright’s film focuses on the first month of Winston Churchill’s role as prime minister of England. The film delves deep to uncover just how unpopular Churchill was at first. With Gary Oldman at his peak as Churchill, the film still bogs down occasionally. Yet it efficiently portrays one of the most important periods of the 20th century. 7. “Phantom Thread.” Paul Thomas Anderson’s string of bizarre, yet gorgeous films continues. Daniel DayLewis is perfect as a stubborn, obsessive dressmaker in 1950s London. Sometimes cringeinducing but always beautiful, the film traces Lewis’s infatuation with his new model Alma (Vicky Kreips). It’s slow, but worth the time invested. 8. “Call Me By Your Name.” Luca Guadagnino’s love story ambles through the Italian countryside in the summer of 1983 as 17-year-old Elio (Timothee Chalamet’s breakout performance) becomes smitten with visiting grad student Oliver (Armie Hammer). Not much happens, but the aim is to get swept up by the luscious scenery and forbidden love. 9. “The Post.” From “Schindler’s List” to “War Horse,” Steven Spielberg has spent decades presenting historic heroes we might otherwise have never known. “The Post” depicts the brave decision by the Washington Post to publish top-secret Vietnam documents. Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks are fine; however, Spielberg does not weave enough suspense around this important story. Here is my personal top 10: 1. “The Florida Project” 2. “Ladybird” 3. “Wonder Woman” 4. “Mudbound” 5. “Thor: Ragnarok” 6. “Dunkirk” 7. “Logan” 8. “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” 9. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” 10. “Wind River”

Jeff Mellinger is a screenwriter and film buff. He holds a BA in Film Studies and an MFA in film production. He lives in Concord. Email comments to

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February 23, 2018

Concord Pioneer •

Page 15

Shaving expenses and skipping extras makes down payment possible


REAL ANSWERS Q. How do I know when it is time to sell? A. Deciding to sell your home is no small decision. Here are your four indicators that can help you decide if it’s a good time to list your home. 1. You’re in a hot market. If “sold “ signs are popping up frequently in your neighborhood and prices are rising quickly, it might be worth talking to your real estate agent. Consider moving if you can potentially make a big return on your investment. 2. You’re sick of yard

work. If raking leaves and staining the deck are no longer fun projects, you may be ready to scale down to a less work-intensive living situation. 3. You’re out of space. While it might be nice to have more room for shoes, it probably doesn’t warrant a new home. But if your household is getting ready to grow – say a new baby or in-laws moving in – it may be time to move to a house that will accommodate your expanding needs. 4. Your life has changed. A major life event – marriage, divorce, new job, retirement – may necessitate a new home and/or a new location.

Q. How can my boyfriend and I ever save up a down payment for a house? A. One of the biggest obstacles for first-time buyers is saving for a down payment. The first mistake new homebuyers make is believing that they must have 20 percent to put down on a home. Depending on your

credit and the loan terms, you can usually put down much less. The second mistake is thinking you’ll never be able to save enough money. Here are some things you can stop spending money on right now: 1. Gas. When you can, walk or ride your bike instead of hopping in the car. Carpooling is another great idea. 2. Coffee. Treat yourself to a nice travel mug, then fill up at home and skip the pricey coffee shops. 3. Expensive gifts. Instead of buying gifts that may not be used by the recipient, go the homemade route: baked goods, a photo collage, a collection of flowers from your garden tied in a pretty ribbon or a home-cooked meal. 4. Books. Start reading books for free at the library. 5. Lunch. Brown bagging it is cheaper and healthier. But don’t eat at your desk. Go to the break room or a local park (and bring your library book).

With Alaska cruises, it pays to think small

When it comes to cruising, Alaska is “hot.” More than 1 million people cruised there last year, and a 10 percent increase is forecast for 2018. Many cruisers book voyages on midsize and megaships, but another smart option are small ships – including the Alaskan ferry system – that offer an interesting, more intimate experience. When I last cruised to Alaska in 2009, I was on a Royal Caribbean midsize ship with 2,000 other passengers. When we pulled into Ketchikan, Skagway or Juneau, there was a rush into town for sightseeing and tours. It wasn’t only the passengers from my ship, but thousands of people from other ships that happened to be in port that day. If only I had known then about the small-ship and expeditionary cruising in Alaska. These smaller ships typically carry fewer than 100 passengers and provide richer, more diversified travel experiences. These ships also are not limited to the major ports but can dock in smaller bays and tiny cities like Petersburg and Wrangell. Thanks to the Inside Passage, protected from the Pacific’s roiling seas, there is little reason to be concerned with seasickness. Travelers increasingly value opportunities to immerse

If You Go

those channels. Cutting corners may not be a lot of fun, but keep your eye on the prize: a house of your own. Send your question and look for your answer in a future column. Email French is the broker/owner of Windermere Lynne French & Associates. Contact her at 672-8787 or stop in at 6200 Center St., Clayton.

Gehringer family created 1000-acre pioneer farm


Robert Casey


Instead of shopping in pricey stores, check out outlet malls, online sales or high-end thrift shops. 9. Restaurants. Don’t give up on dining with friends, just do it at home instead. Host a backyard cookout, potluck or intimate dinner party with candles and fine china. 10. Premium cable. Look at your cable bill and decide if you really need all


Sawyer Glacier on Tracy Arm is one of many spectacular sights that can be seen from Alaska's waterways.

themselves in local experiences. Smaller ships routinely feature naturalists and other experts who help explain local history, customs and wildlife. Many also hire photographers who help passengers learn new techniques. Here are some of the top choices: The Alaska Marine Highway System. Since it’s impossible to drive to many cities in Alaska, the state ferry service is a fascinating way to see the area. The “blue canoes,” as the ferries are known, go as far south as Bellingham, Wash., and as far west as Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians. This is basically a “hop on, hop off ” experience. Food is extra, served cafeteria-style. Budget travelers can rough it and spread their sleeping bags on the deck. Alaskans rarely travel by cruise ship, but almost everyone who lives along the coast uses the Alaska Marine Highway – making it an ideal way to meet Alaskans. Ferries run year-round, but they are extremely popular in summer, so booked as soon as possible. For more information, go to Lindblad Expeditions. This company, which runs all

6. Gym membership. If you are not using your gym regularly, let it go. Stay healthy with online workouts at home and venture into the great outdoors for walking, hiking, running or your favorite sport. 7. Bottled water. Get yourself a filtered pitcher and a portable container. Your wallet – and the environment – will thank you. 8. Designer clothes.

of National Geographic’s cruises, is a leader in naturalistled travel. Their Alaska fleet includes Sea Bird and Sea Lion, both holding 62 passengers, and the larger National Geographic Quest added in 2016, which carries 100. Windstar Cruises. This line is returning to Alaska for the first time in 20 years with its all-suite, 212-passenger Star Legend. UnCruise Adventures. Headquartered in Seattle, this line offers small-ship expeditions focused on local culture, cuisine and nature. There are six ships sailing Alaskan itineraries, ranging from the 22-passenger Safari Quest to the 84passenger Safari Endeavour. Alaskan Dream Cruises. This company features four different Alaska itineraries, departing from Ketchikan, Juneau or Sitka, on five different small ships. The Boat Company. Operating two small ships in southeast Alaska, this not-forprofit cruise line sails sevenday cruises between Sitka and Juneau. Robert Casey is president of Fair Winds Cruises & Expeditions in Clayton. He can be reached at 925-787-8252, or

Passport rules. If your cruise includes Canadian stops, such as Vancouver or Victoria, U.S. citizens will need a passport valid for at least six months beyond the end of the cruise. If the cruise departs and returns to the same U.S. port (such as San Francisco or Seattle), U.S. citizens only need a government-issued birth certificate or certified copy with a raised seal. Getting around. Shore excursions are available from any cruise line except for the ferries, but many Alaskan ports are easily walkable and taxis are available. More information. The official Alaska website contains tips on things to do and places to go.

A heritage oak tree amongst the houses on Mulberry Drive in Dana Estates was on Andrew Conrad Gehringer’s ranch before the Navy bought his farm in the 1940s. Gehringer immigrated to New York from Germany at age 21. He join the Army and sailed into San Francisco Bay in 1847 aboard the USS Susan Drew, serving at the San Francisco Presidio. In the 1850s, he delivered herds of government horses and cattle to Sacramento. Passing through Rancho Monte Del Diablo, he noted the beauty of this land –where wild oats grew higher than a horse’s back. After his military discharge, Gehringer farmed in the Santa Clara Valley with John Norbert Denkinger. He heard that Don Salvio Pacheco was selling land in Concord, so he purchased 750 acres. In the early 1860s, he moved to the fertile valley at the foot of Mount Diablo. He married and built a small house and a barn and bought one horse. He encouraged Denkinger to buy the adjoining ranch. When the Franks moved nearby, the three families became a small German community. In 1863, the whole state suffered a disastrous drought, turning the fertile ground into dust. All the crops failed, and there was no fodder to feed his horse. Many nights, Gehringer would weep because he could not feed the animal that worked so hard for him. The

This heritage oak stands proudly in dana Estates, recalling the days when its nearest neighbor was the 1000-acre Gehringer farm.

hungry animals banged their heads on the pioneers’ homes, begging for food. Farming was impossible, so most of the settlers worked in the lime quarry. Finally, Gehringer secured enough money to make a small payment to Pacheco on his land debt. Pacheco handed the payment back, telling him to buy seed and start over so that, in time, things would be better and then he could pay him. By 1878, Gehringer had well repaid Pacheco’s faith in him, having increased his holding to more than 1,000 acres of working farmland of grains, vegetables and orchards. His family increased as well. He now had a son, Conrad Andrew, and a daughter, Lena. Conrad married Ann Marie Denkinger, the daughter of his best friend and neighbor. A local builder built a


home for the newlyweds on the Gehringer farm. The second generation farm family had five children: Linda, Carol, Elaine, Hilda and Norbert. The house was enlarged as the family grew. It was a good time for the family. Their produce was known all over the valley. In 1911, they won first prize for their fruit at the county fair. The Gehringer family continued to farm until their Pioneer Ranch was appropriated by the Navy in 1940. But you can still see the heritage oak tree standing on what once was a beautiful farm. Carol Longshore has been a Concord resident since 1950. She is a community leader and current president of the Concord Historical Society. Send comments and suggestions for future topics to


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Concord Pioneer •

February 23, 2018

Envisioning a new transportation reality for Concord

I recently had an opportunity to meet with Andreas Gohl, the former director of the Bicycle Program in Copenhagen, Denmark, to talk about how bicycles can improve quality of life for people living in cities. In Copenhagen, 55 percent of the residents travel to work or school on bikes. In order to accommodate such a high number of cyclists, Copenhagen had to provide a strong, safe infrastructure. Gohl said something that really stuck with me: “All streets should be accessible by bike.” Imagine what that would look like in Concord. Imagine if it were not automatically assumed that cars ruled the streets, but that pedestrians,

MARYAM ROBERTS BIKE CONCORD bikes and cars had equal access to all streets. Imagine how that might change our community and the way we live and move around in it Cycling advocates like those of us in Bike Concord

look to Copenhagen for working examples of how infrastructure that prioritizes bikes and pedestrians, along with cars, can benefit the whole community. But Copenhagen wasn’t always a haven for cyclists. In the 1960s, it was filled with cars, congestion, traffic, pollution and stress. Sound familiar? The tide began to change in the 1970s, when the cycling culture began to slowly make a comeback. The Danish model took shape when people began to see that the solution to the many problems being caused by cars had to be a shift in city planning so that cars were not the only safe or convenient way to get around. Now we see Copenhagen’s

needed for cyclists, families, seniors and drivers to build a culture of safety and awareness. I imagine a future like this for Concord. We have an incredible opportunity to be a forward-thinking and acting community to lead the way in our region. We can be a model community that embraces and uplifts cycling culture and provides safe, accessible streets for bikes and pedestrians. It’s happening here, and I hope that city planners, city and county officials, residents, Contributed photo pedestrians, cyclists and drivers Bikeways like this are part of Copenhagen’s bike-friendly can work together. Let’s build a transportation network. Concord where we all want to pro-cycling culture, where on a safe network of streets live – and ride. families ride together, adults and protected bike lanes. Roberts is a volunteer with Bike commute to work and children Infrastructure is just part of Concord. ride to school independently the solution. Education is also

Delving into the standard tax deduction


Q: Can you explain what a standard deduction is? A: The standard deduction is a dollar amount that reduces the amount of income on which you are taxed. The standard deduction amount varies according to your filing status. I listed the standard deduction amounts in my January column, but I will reiterate them here: Single, $6,350. Married filing jointly (MFJ), $12,700.

Head of household (HOH), $9,350. If an individual is blind, over age 65, or both, there is an additional standard deduction amount of $1,550 for each situation.

Q: How do I know if I should use the standard deduction or the itemized deduction total from Schedule A? A: You always want to use the deduction amount that will benefit you the most since that amount reduces your taxable income. If you have eligible deductions on Schedule A that added together equal more than the standard deduction for your filing status, you would use the itemized deduction figure. Otherwise, the standard deduction would be

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Q: Can I claim the tax exemption regardless of my income? A: Unfortunately, there is a phase out that begins with adjusted gross income (AGI) of $261,500 for single and $313,800 for MFJ. It phases out completely at $384,000 for single and $436,300 for MFJ.

Q: Can you explain what the tax exemption is compared to the standard deduction? A: The tax exemption is in addition to the standard deduction and it also reduces taxable income. The exemption amount for 2017 is $4,050. Generally, you can claim one personal tax exemption for yourself and one for your spouse, if married. You can also claim one tax exemption for each person who qualifies as your dependent.

Q: Can I claim exemptions if I am a dependent? A: You cannot claim any exemptions if another taxpayer is entitled to claim you as a dependent. They claim the

exemption for you on their tax return. In addition, you are not allowed to claim any dependents.

Q: Do I still get the standard deduction if I am claimed on my parent’s return? A: Yes and no. You do get a standard deduction, but you may not get the full $6,300. As a dependent, you can get a standard deduction of $1,050 or your earned income plus $350 (but not more than $6,300), whichever is higher. Correction: In January, I

indicated that people over 65 could deduct medical expenses that are more than 7.5 percent of their AGI and that people under 65 could only deduct the amounts more than 10 percent of their AGI. Congress has changed that for 2017 and everyone gets to use the 7.5 percent rate. Bayer, CRTP, is a principal in Bayer and Associates, 2280 Diamond Blvd., Suite 340, Concord. Email your questions and comments to or call 925-356-5645.

It’s no mystery: Leeks are alive with flavor DEBRA MORRIS Pacific Coast Farmers Market

Myth and legend intertwine when it comes to the origin and history of the leek. According to most legends, St. David, the patron saint of Wales, ordered soldiers to wear the symbol of the leek on their helmets when battling the dreaded Saxon invaders. It is even said that the Druids were the first to use the leek as a symbol of their sacred knowledge. The origins of the leek’s usage are shrouded in mystery, but today the leek is considered the national symbol of Wales and is proudly worn on St. David’s Day, March 1. Traditionally, leeks were cooked into a restorative broth (“cawl”) that was said to help the pain of childbirth, heal the wounds of battle, cure the common cold and even foretell the future. Leeks are still used

oven with olive oil, salt and pepper for 15-20 minutes. Slice and stir into your favorite quiche instead of a yellow or white onion. Top homemade pizza crust with olive oil, sliced leeks, goat cheese, salt, pepper and fresh herbs; bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes.

Add sliced leeks to any homemade soups, salads and sandwiches in place of other onions. Hungry yet? Try farm-fresh leeks from the farmers market. You’ll always get the best quality while supporting local farmers and your community.

have become homeless has increased around the nation. Definitions of age in the homeless vary from study to study. However, there is a growing consensus that people 50 and over should be included in the “older homeless” population. People 50-65 frequently fall between the cracks of governmental safety nets. While they are not old enough to qualify for Medicare, their physical health, assaulted by poor nutrition and severe living conditions, may resemble that of a 70-year-old. People who are homeless for long periods simply do not reach age 62 – when they could qualify for programs such as Supplemental Security Income, Social Security, Medicare and senior housing – as often as

the general population. Even if obtained, these benefits often fail to cover the cost of housing. A person receiving SSI cannot afford housing at the free market rate anywhere in the country. The National Low Income Housing Coalition considers housing affordable if it costs no more than 30 percent of a person’s income. Even if the SSI grant did cover the rent, only a few dollars would remain for other expenses. Moreover, some homeless people are unaware of their eligibility for public assistance programs and face difficulties applying for and receiving benefits. The elderly homeless often need help navigating the complex application process. Like all people at risk of

becoming homeless, elderly people require adequate income, affordable housing and affordable health care in order to stay securely housed and live independently. If you or someone you know is homeless or losing their housing, call 211 for free confidential services available 24/7. Callers will be matched and referred to appropriate programs.

Photo courtesy of Farmers Market

Leeks with their mild onion flavor, are delicious on their own, cooked or raw in soups and salads.

Seniors may need help to maintain stable housing



in soups, stews and side dishes, adding a lovely mild onion flavor. Besides, leeks are pretty cool looking. Use only the mild green and white parts of this long fat onion, not the dark green part. Because they are grown in sandy soil, leeks should be thoroughly washed to remove debris. Slice in rings for sautés, casseroles and soups. Slice lengthwise to roast or braise. Find these historically important and delicious onions in abundance this month at the farmers market from Green Oaks Creek Farm of Pescadero, Alberto’s Farm of Morgan Hill or Tu Universo from Watsonville. Here are some easy ways to use them – no recipes needed: Slice in rings and sauté with bacon and mushrooms for a great side dish or for inclusion in a pasta dish. Cut lengthwise, clean, pat dry and roast in a 400 degree

When thinking about the homeless, the elderly may not immediately come to mind. But according to the National Coalition for the Homeless, this demographic continues to be a forgotten population. Among the growing population of elder adults living in poverty are people forced to grow old on the streets and in shelters who have recently become homeless or who remain at constant risk of losing housing. The number of elderly adults who

Christine Kogut is a marketing director for the Concord Senior Citizens Club. She has lived in the area for 40 years and formerly worked for the Contra Costa Times. To find out more about the Concord Senior Center, call 925.671.3320 or see the city’s website at

February 23, 2018



When working on a design project of any size, there’s nothing more important than inspiration. You may find inspiration while out for a walk at Lydia Lane Park, from the greenery along the path, the natural light or the drizzle of the creek. Or you may find it while dining at your favorite, impeccably designed, restaurant in San Francisco – a unique tile installation



February comes with a new list of garden and landscape chores. Fruit tree care is essential now. Peach and nectarine trees are susceptible to peach-leaf curl, so put on a final application of copper fungicide. This must be done while the trees are in bud, not bloom. Use dormant spray on apple trees that suffer from coddling moths larvae (worms in the apples). Apply this insecticide when the apple tree’s flowers are just beginning to lose their petals. All deciduous fruit trees would benefit from a layer of nutrient rich compost and fruit tree fertilizer worked into the drip line at the outer area beneath the canopy, at the critical root zone.

Concord Pioneer •

To Market, To Market for design inspiration in an exposed kitchen or an oversized silk drum shade chandelier above your table. Maybe your inspiration comes from far-away destinations: a waterfall you saw in Hana with too many shades of blue to possibly count, a statue in Rome that had the most unusual shade of bronze, a hotel in New York with a bathroom design that would fit perfectly in your current space. I recently attended Market, a design event held at the World Market Center in Las Vegas twice a year. Home goods manufacturers display their latest and greatest, hoping to inspire, and sell, to the many visitors that walk through the 1,300,000 sq. ft. of showroom space. So many amazing products to see, so

many steps to count. Every time I visit Market, I feel incredibly inspired to create – from area rugs to chandeliers and everything in between. This event rejuvenates me and reminds me to consider all the design possibilities when it comes to furnishings, lighting and decorative materials. Here are some thoughts: Wallpaper. Maybe it’s a trend, maybe it’s just what fabulous design looks like, but wallpaper is a material that seems to be literally sticking around. I’m not talking about the wallpaper that was so sweetly installed in your parents’ or grandparents’ homes, but rather wallpaper that makes a statement, a question mark or an exclamation point. Big prints, sparkle prints,

Prune deciduous fruit trees in late winter for beautification and to eliminate crossing and weak branches. It’s a great idea to spray your loppers with a disinfectant after each cut is made. Prune to control growth only after the fruit yield. It’s also time to prepare your vegetable beds. Clean the beds, pull weeds, turn the soil and rake the areas level. Evaluate last year’s crops to see what type of amending you need. If your tomatoes and zucchini were mostly leaf with not as many flowers, amend the beds with a rich soil conditioner with about 25 percent nitrogen derived from chicken manure and bone meal (follow package directions). If your summer veggies didn’t grow that great, amend the beds with chicken or steer manure. The trick is to amend now so the soil has time to marinate. During dry stretches, it’s a good idea to sprinkle water the beds every 710 days. Summer-blooming perenni-

als and shrubs need pruning as the weather allows. Small-leafed salvias such as hot lips or the Blaze series should have their overall growth pruned back onehalf to two-thirds. Abutilons should have half to two-thirds of their growth removed. Prune mums down to the ground and shapely prune French and English lavender. For crape myrtle trees and shrubs, remove seed heads from last year’s flowers. Cut branches evenly, removing any crossing branches or fine hair-like lateral twigs. Severely prune potato trees, butterfly bushes and cape honeysuckle. Follow up with fertilizer after pruning summer-flowering perennials and shrubs. Use multi-purpose 16-16-16 granular or water-soluble fertilizer, following package directions. Simultaneously, I like to dose these plants with a soil surfactant. Think of soil surfactant as an assist for your fertilizer. It helps the product that you apply

paper with texture and pizzazz. say, wallpaper might be just the If you have a wall that screams remedy. for attention but has nothing to Artwork. When artwork is done right, it really can be the icing on the cake. Creating a gallery with multiple pieces or having a single statement piece will help pull a living space together. Artwork can create an atmosphere of relaxation or playfulness. Whatever your aesthetic goal and whatever delights your inner artist – framed canvas

Prepare your garden now for spring and summer bounty

Clearing up some foggy factors WOODY WHITLATCH WEATHER WORDS

A few days each winter, central Contra Costa County residents wake up to a blanket of cold fog. In most cases, what we experience is a layer of tule fog that is pushed through the Sacramento Delta and over Kirker Ridge from the Central Valley. Tule fog is a winter season, radiation-induced fog. This phenomenon is named after the tule grass wetlands (tulares) found at the lowest elevations of the Central Valley, where this ground-hugging fog often forms. The optimal conditions for tule fog formation include long winter nights, clear night skies and light winds. Those factors ensure that ground level temperatures will fall rapidly during the night. Precedent weather conditions also play a role in tule fog formation. Winter weather fronts that cross our state deliver rains that moisten the ground. After the frontal passage, high pressure builds over the state – producing a weather pattern that normally features clear skies and light winds. Night radiational cooling of the earth allows temperatures near the wet ground to cool

prints, paintings, photography, shadow boxes – these are the pieces you should seek out to finish your living space. Lighting. Sometimes you need to see lighting in action to know what would make your living space sparkle. Layered lighting really is the best. For example, in a home office, opt for a desk lamp layered with a chandelier and recessed cans. They all operate individually, adding depth and illumination. In a kitchen, consider under-cabinet lighting, layered with a chandelier or group of pendants and finished off with recessed cans. Layering brings lots of light, glowing and functional. Wherever your find design inspiration, take the time to really digest the decorative and functional details. And consider working with professionals who can help make the journey pleasant and focused and ensure a desirable outcome. Jennifer Leischer is the owner of J. Designs Interior Design based in Clayton. Contact her with questions, comments and suggestions at

A contemporary statement wallpaper brings drama to even the plainest room.

This Google view shows the tule fog from the Central Valley that pushes into the Bay Area.

below the dew point. As the night continues, condensation increases and fog forms. Air temperatures inside the tule fog layer typically range from 35 to 45 degrees. Temperatures in the inversion layer above can be 10 to 20 degrees warmer. Sometimes, the clear sky and light wind weather pattern continues unabated for many days. The fog becomes so thick that daytime solar heating is not strong enough to evaporate the moisture. Under these conditions, tule fog events can last for several days and grow large enough to cover the entire Central Valley.

California’s flat Central Valley stretches from Red Bluff to Bakersfield and is bounded by the Sierra Nevada to the east and coastal mountains to the west. These mountains create the walls of a geographical feature that resembles a flat-bottomed canoe. How high the tule fog can grow vertically is limited by the temperature inversion found at the base of high pressure systems, typically between 1,000 and 2,500 feet. With the exception of a few coastal gaps in the Bay Area, the tule fog is trapped inside the Central Valley until the high pressure system breaks down and moves eastward. Occasionally, light easterly winds will develop in the Central Valley. These winds are too weak to dissipate the fog but strong enough to push the cool moist air into the Bay Area. The next time central Contra Costa County experiences a tule fog event, take a ride to the top of Mt Diablo and keep an eye on the temperature display. Once above the fog, observe the rise in temperature as you enter the inversion layer. As a reward, continue to the peak. It’s an incredible sight to look down on the blanket of fog that extends for miles below. Woody Whitlatch is a meteorologist retired from PG&E. Email your questions or comments to

get to where it needs to go: the roots. This is an excellent time to install several foundation plants. Coleonema Sunset Gold should be planted while the air is cool and the soil is moist, along with any California native plants you desire. Lavender loves to be planted before it blooms, and the cooler months are also the time to install trees and privacy bushes. Wait on installing tropical plants like hibiscus or bougainvillea, citrus or tuberous plants such as impatiens and begonias. We still can have frost through the middle of March. Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. You can contact her with questions or comments by email at

Page 17

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When it’s raining, the Diablo falls are pouring Page 18

Concord Pioneer •





Enjoying the waterfalls on Mt. Diablo should be a bucket list hike. With limited precipitation this year, there have been few chances to observe the falls

Scott Hein

One of the cascading falls on diablo following rainstorm

Falls Trail Loop

pumping at maximum. But after a day of heavy rain, I set out early one overcast morning to see what Mt. Diablo had in store. Follow Donner Canyon Road right from Regency Gate and begin a very flat stroll. During rains, it can become muddy – like cement shoes muddy. But muddy conditions equal outstanding waterfalls in Diablo Country, and some can be more than 100 feet tall. Just past the Donner Cabin Site and thousands of daffodils, make a left across the creek and onto Hetherrington Trail. This single-track trail is a favorite among hikers as an alternate route to Donner Canyon Road. Creekside hiking with a canopy of trees and wildflowers keeps the trail shaded, moist and a bit spooky early in the morning. Pick up Donner Canyon Road to Cardinet Oaks Trail and enjoy a short downhill breather. Dash across Donner Creek and begin an uphill leg burner that switches direction multiple times before delivering you to Falls Trail. Cardinet Oaks provides much-deserved scenic views of Meridian Ridge, with Mt. Olympia and North Peak towering above. Falls Trail continues uphill and trail navigation becomes difficult as you push into Wild Oat Canyon. The striated rock for-

mations in this canyon are classified as greenstone, greywacke and shale. The rocks, ridges and overall scenery on this part of the hike are a highlight – second to the waterfalls, of course. Within minutes of hiking Falls Trail, you are rewarded with two sizable waterfalls. These are mostly viewed from a distance. If you want a closer look, be warned as conditions are extremely steep, slippery and with high consequence. Rocks, packed dirt and water in some cases force the hiker to stay focused on the trail, a tall order with so much to see. Falls Trail continues past additional waterfalls, mostly located right off the trail. These falls are dependent on rain, so timing your hike is key. In previous years, I have seen more sets of falls and at a much higher flow rate. But don’t let that foil your plans; seasonal rains are sure to deliver late winter flows. Follow gravity and your downhill momentum onto Middle Trail, a lesser-known trail that sees minimal traffic due to its proximity on the mountain. Consider this your super-cruising ride out of Wild Oat Canyon as the trail cuts along a hillside, over multiple creek crossings and through heavy brush and trees native to this area. During heavy rains, expect to see waterfalls spring up trailside – sometimes in new locations. Middle Trails ends at Meridian Ridge Road just above the Donner Canyon Junction. From here, you can retrace your path along Hetherrington Trail (the best option) or stay on Donner Canyon Road for a relatively gradual descent back to Regency Gate.

Trails: donner Canyon road, Hetherrington Trail, Cardinet Oaks Trail, Falls Trail, Middle Trail, Meridian ridge Trail

February 23, 2018

Scott Hein

Spectacular views are worth slogging through the mud on the Falls Trail


Roo and Turtleneck are ARF stars


One-and-a-half-year-old Roo is a gorgeous boy with plenty of energy to keep you off the couch and on your feet. He loves to get outside and run around, as well as play a game or go off in search of pesky squirrels. Roo is a smart cookie Contact Kevin Parker with com- and would benefit from ongoments or questions by email at ing training not only to continue developing his man-

Distance: 6 miles Elevation Gain: 1,284 feet Duration: 2.5-3 hours Level: Moderate Getting there: Trailhead at end of Mountaire

Parkway or regency drive, Clayton; no facilities


ners but as a great way to keep him mentally stimulated. The adoption fee for puppies <6 months is $300, for adult dogs is $250, and includes a discount on the first six-week session of a manners class. Nine-month-old Turtleneck is just as warm and toasty as the winter sweater he’s

named after. He is a very friendly and outgoing boy who is always on the lookout for a lap to warm up. He loves to play with wand toys and is an active fellow. The adoption fee for kittens under 6 months $125 and for adult cats is $75. Meet your forever friend at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, 2890 Mitchell Drive, Walnut Creek, during adoption hours: Noon to 6 pm Wednesday & Thursday, Noon to 7 pm Friday, and Noon to 6 pm Saturday & Sunday. 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) 2561ARF.

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3 bedroom/2 bath 1483 sq ft single story home in the Glen Park Neighborhood. Spacious family room with gas fireplace. Fresh paint inside and out with new lighting. Large backyard is a gardener’s dream with planter boxes, mature trees and large patio perfect for entertaining.

Lovely 4 bedroom/2 bath 1765 sq ft single story Crossings home updated with new lighting and fresh paint. Features a spacious living/dining room with vaulted ceilings and a gas fireplace. Freshly painted cabinets and new stainless steel appliances.






CEO, The Bennett Team #1 Agent in Concord for the last 6 years combined

CalBRE #01399870

• Turtle Creek – 5 beds, entertaining home • Concord – 2 bed/1 bath condo

• Concord – 3 bed/ 2 bath singlestory home

What our clients say

Nancy’s Team is as good as it gets! I’ve been working with them for a while now and am continually impressed by the level of professionalism and knowledge they bring to the table. Being the #1 in Concord makes buying easy. People know her, so getting your offer accepted is easy. She and her team know Concord super well. All the ins and outs of the neighborhoods, and specifically, what to look for in different neighborhoods. – Robby R - Concord



Selling more than 8 times as many homes as the average realtor.

FEB 23 Concord Pioneer 2018  
FEB 23 Concord Pioneer 2018  

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