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CV rocks royal tradition

November 6, 2015


CELINE HERRERA Correspondent



There’s a new Chief in town

We welcome our newest Chief of Police, Chris Wenzel, to Clayton. Chief Wenzel is most recently a former Commander in the Contra Costa County Sheriff ’s Office, and has an exemplary and varied 26 year law enforcement career. In addition to his role as Commander, he previously served as Chief of Police in Danville for more than seven years and he has been a Watch Commander and Facility Commander of the Martinez Detention Facility. He also is a Livermore Valley School Board Trustee and is happy to put off retirement and work with all of us, embracing a tradition of small town values. Welcome Chief! (Look for a profile of Chief Wenzel in the Dec. 11 Clayton Pioneer.) On the recycling front, I feel like I am beating my head over and over. In September residents recycled at a rate of 46.21 percent while the commercial sector came in at a lowly 9.89 percent, which brings our calendar year



See Mayor, page 17 NEWLY CROWNED HOMECOMING KING ANNA LAU AND QUEEN VERONICA RENNER stand proudly with Veronica’s father. BY

It was not Homecoming as usual this year at Clayton Valley Charter High School. For the first time in the school’s history, two female students, Anna Lau and Veronica Renner, were honored as the school’s Homecoming King and Queen. Before the two students were nominated, it has always been tradition for students to elect one male and one female student to represent the student body. Anna’s election as Homecoming King, however, shined a light on the changing times. “I was really, really shocked,” said Anna, who identifies herself with the LGBTQ+ community. “I started crying and I couldn’t stop crying for the next 20 minutes afterwards. It was a pretty big thing.” It was a long-held tradition that students would vote for one male and one female to represent the school as king and queen during Homecoming week. As a lark, Anna and Veronica, best friends, decided to post a picture on Instagram, telling their followers to vote for them for Homecoming prince and princess. After receiving positive support from their peers, the two marching band seniors decided to campaign for the Homecoming Court.

See Homecoming, pg 7

Honoring those who fought for freedom

Five local veterans share their stories of war

“I could hit a jackrabbit on the run on the farm,” he said, “so even though I hadn’t been trained on the gun I began zeroing in on the targets.” Kohler eventually served six years in the Navy and returned to Minnesota in May of 1947. The initial euphoria of the victory had worn off and the returning servicemen put their war experiences behind them. “It was a shock,” he said. “Everything else had grown, but my town was still the

PEGGY SPEAR Clayton Pioneer

Nov. 11 is Veterans Day, a day to honor all the men and woman who fought America’s wars. While it is a day to celebrate our freedom and their service, it is all too easy to nod your head to a veteran, say “thanks for your service,” and go about your day off. However, many people who have never served in the military, especially in wartime, understand completely the sacrifices and experiences of these veterans. In this issue of the Pioneer, we introduce you to five different veterans with diverse stories of war and peace, but one common thread runs throughout: their military service impacted, and perhaps defined, the people they are today.

What’s Inside

Around Town . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Arts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Community Calendar . . . . .13 Directory of Advertisers . . . .7 Holiday Page . . . . . . . . . . .18 Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 School News . . . . . . . . . . . .8

Fuhrman photo courtesy of Kohler archives

ON THE MORNING OF DEC. 7, 1941, CHUCK KOHLER (CIRCLED) WATCHES THE SKY OVER PEARL HARBOR while he places sandbags for machine gun nests on the connect apron near his hangar. The Pearl Harbor survivor, 92, lives in Concord with his wife of 64 years.

Earl J. “Chuck” Kohler, Navy, Pearl Harbor Survivor, WWII Like many others of his generation, long-time Concord resident Earl J. “Chuck” Kohler left his family’s Minnesota farm in 1941 to enlist in the service to help with the war effort. He was 17. Since he was under-aged, he needed his father’s permission to enlist. “I was surprised he said okay,” the 92-year-old told me in a recent interview. “I was responsible for the day-to-day operations and did most of the heavy lifting, but he was willing to sacrifice for the greater cause.” After Navy basic training,

Kohler was assigned to Pearl Harbor. At the time of the Japanese attack, he was composing a letter to his mother on a Remington typewriter. Bomb fragments flew into the back of his head, Kohler ripped out the unfinished letter and crumpled it in the trash before racing outside. “I was afraid I’d get in trouble if somebody found it,” he confessed. Plenty of other trouble awaited him outside. “At first I didn’t realize what was coming. The sound of bullets ricocheting off the buildings didn’t quite register as danger.” An officer outside ordered sailors into an uncovered construction ditch, but as soon as

Kohler hit the bottom he jumped back out and headed to the ammo shelter to put up a defense. “The officer hollered at me to get back in the ditch, threatening to put me on report — a serious offense during war time.” Kohler weighed the consequences but didn’t look back, finding someone with a key to open the ordnance shack. With considerable effort, he and a fellow serviceman mounted a machine gun into a PBY-5A, an amphibious aircraft parked against a bunker. At first, Kohler fed the ammo, but he could tell his mate was far off-target, so he manned the gun.

same. I tried to make a go of it, but ended up moving to the West Coast.” After stints at Columbia Steel and the paper mill in Pittsburg and Antioch, Kohler went into construction in 1952 and helped build most of the highways in the area, some of which people still travel on. “I’m proud of my contributions,” he says. “My experience in the service taught me

See Freedom, page 6

Pedestrian bridges close for repairs

Clayton walkers and hikers will have to take a few round-about ways over the next few weeks as the city is repairing the pedestrian bridges in town, including the popular one by the library. Beginning about Nov. 9, construction crews from Granite Rock Construction will repair the wooden planks on seven local bridges, beginning at the bridge at Westwood Park and working downward to Upper and Lower Easley. Six of the bridges are on the popular Cardinet Trail, used by pedestrians and cyclists. Maintenance Supervisor John Johnston says that the plan is to complete a bridge every two days, ending before the busy Thanksgiving weekend. Signs were posted earlier this week notifying pedestrians of the bridge closures, Johnston said. For more information, contact project supervisor Mark Janney at 925-673-7327.

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Profile for Pioneer Publishers

NOV 06 Clayton Pioneer 2015  

NOV 06 Clayton Pioneer 2015