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(925) 672-0500

September 27, 2013

Frightened community weathers 3,111 acre Mt. Diablo inferno PEGGY SPEAR & TAMARA STEINER Clayton Pioneer



When disaster strikes, it’s easy to find villains and heroes. While a target shooter using ammunition inappropriately may face charges for starting the Sept. 8 Morgan Fire in the dry brush land of Mt. Diablo, the many heroes of the saga – firefighters, community residents and even Mother Nature itself – are being credited with helping curb the inferno, which scorched 3,111 acres, saw 100 homes evacuated and ultimately caused $5.3 million in damage.

Fire tested community response and resolve It’s been over two weeks since the major fire on Mt. Diablo was contained and controlled and we were all able to breathe a big sigh of relief. On behalf of all of the residents of Clayton and our surrounding rural areas impacted by the fire, I express our heartfelt gratitude to all of the dedicated firefighters and emergency responders who brought the fire safely to conclusion. It was a scary few days for all of us. Now that the flames are gone, it’s instructive to review the roles we each assume in response to a local emergency. My phone began to ring early Sunday afternoon as many saw the smoke billowing

See Mayor, page 10

Photo Tamara Steiner

from the ferocious flames of the Morgan fire which burned 3,111 acres on Mt. Diablo Sept. 8 and 9. Don and Jan Van Laeken’s Morgan Territory home was directly in the path of the flames during a dangerous Monday night flare up. The next morning, this sign made by the couple’s 11-year-old grandson, joined several others posted by grateful neighbors along Morgan Territory and all over Clayton. NEIGHBORS WERE QUICK TO SHOW THEIR THANKS TO THE FIREFIGHTERS FOR SAVING THEIR PROPERTIES

Cycles of nature will help repair damage to Mt. Diablo JAY BEDECARRÉ Clayton Pioneer

It is no wives’ tale that forest fires and other disasters are just part of Mother Nature’s way of regulating itself and thus Mt. Diablo will return to its preMorgan Fire state over the next three to five years.

Senior Environmental Scientist Cyndy Shafer, who has worked for California State Parks including Mt. Diablo since 1997, says that a wildflower display like the area hasn’t seen since the aftermath of the 1977 Mt. Diablo fire will likely show next spring but that the chaparral shrubs on the mountain will

HOT SEPTEMBER DAY Temperatures were rising to “seasonable” – at least for the East Bay – highs of more than 90 degrees early that Sunday afternoon. Most local residents were already finishing their morning activities in time, maybe to catch the 49ers season

See Inferno, page 10

Morgan Fire Perimeter Map

not fully recover for decades. Shafer says the chaparral that burned this month was “considered young” as it reestablished itself after the ‘77 fire. Cal Fire and State Parks crews were seen using bulldozers and other equipment right after the fire. Shafer said that

See Cycles, page 11

As fire raged, community heroes helped their own DENISEN HARTLOVE Clayton Pioneer

SANDI BROOKS TAKES A MOMENT WITH APRIL, one of the 15 horses boarded at her Brookside Ranch on Morgan Territory Road. A charred North Peak is in the background.

What’s Inside Around Town . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Book Review . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Classified . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Club News . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Sandi Brooks remembers standing on her Morgan Territory Road property a week before the Mt. Diablo fire started, looking at the dry grass surrounding the area. “If this thing ever catches fire it’s going to go up like a torch,” she said at the time. She was right. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), the fire burned a hair-raising 3,111 acres of land before the approximately 1,000 personnel brought in from districts around the state fought it to extinction. That number, however, doesn’t include the scores of locals who

See Heroes, page 11 Community Calendar . . . . .16 Concord Beat . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Design and Décor . . . . . . . . .7 Directory of Advertisers . . . . .5 Estate Planning . . . . . . . . . . .7 Fashion Over 50 . . . . . . . . . .8 Garden Girl . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

Morgan Fire Operations Map courtesy of CalFire

THE MORGAN FIRE STARTED AROUND 1 P.M. ON SUNDAY, SEPT. 8 BY A TARGET SHOOTER in the abandoned mercury mines at Morgan Territory and Marsh Creek Roads. By Tuesday evening, the fire had charred 3,111 acres from the mines at the northeast corner of the perimeter, through Perkins Canyon, North Peak and up and around Mt. Diablo, stopping just short of the summit on the southwest end. The smoke could be seen from all over the Bay Area and the burned area is visible on both the west and east sides of the mountain. Pets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Performing Arts . . . . . . . . . .17 Pioneer Photo Album . . . . . . .3 The Pocket Parent . . . . . . . .14 Police Report . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

Sports Talk . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Take a Hike . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Tech Talk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Teen Reads . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 TeenSpeak . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Voyage of the Eagle . . . . . . .9 Weather Words . . . . . . . . . . .8

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Clayton Pioneer •

September 27, 2013

Around Town Local optometrist joins campaign for universal eye health Dr. Jeanette Hochstatter of Foresight Optometry is participating in the World Sight Day Challenge through World Sight Day, on Oct. 10. The challenge benefits an estimated 600 million people who are blind or vision impaired simply because they do not have access to an eye exam or glasses. The World Sight Day Challenge is the largest annual global fundraising campaign to address avoidable blindness caused by uncorrected refrac-

tive error- and is supported by eye care professionals around the world. The campaign is run by global charity, Optometry Giving Sight. On World Sight Day, Dr. Hochstatter will make a donation to raise awareness of the importance of everyone being able to get their eyes tested and have access to quality eye and vision care. Anyone who appreciates the importance of good vision can make a monthly or annual

Alicia Morrissey and Scott Lundgren wed

or one-time donation to Optometry Giving Sight between now and Oct. 10 at or by visiting Foresight Optometry at 5442 Ygnacio Valley Rd #180 Concord, CA 94521.

Pioneer Travels Pete and Carol Chrobak celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a trip to Europe and we went along. Here we are in Prague before continuing on to a romantic (for them) few days in Paris. (We took a nap.)

We would like to thank the community

for all the Support, Help and Donations. Our dedicated staff, parents and friends worked long and hard to help us reestablish Clayton Children’s Center.

Alicia Morrissey and Scott Lundgren exchanged wedding vows under a majestic oak tree at the Oak Farm Vineyard in Lodi on August 10. Both the bride and groom are Clayton Valley High School alumni; Alicia in 2005 and Scott in 2004. Alicia is the daughter of Matt and Beth Morrissey of Concord and Kim and JR Yasey of Georgia. Scott’s parents are Chris and

Our sincere thanks to all, Roger and Julie Gilchrist

1904 Sofia Court – Brentwood

1205 Buckeye Terrace – Clayton

Kendra Lundgren of Clayton. Alicia was attended by her sisters Melissa Morrissey, Kristal Rios and Victoria Barone. Brian Lundgren, Cole Caracappa and Dan Ritter served as groomsmen. Following the ceremony, guests gathered in the Vineyard’s restored barn for dinner and dancing. The couple honeymooned in Maui and will live in Pittsburg.

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1270 Shell Circle .................$430,000 6024 Golden Eagle Way......$685,000 160 Joscolo View.................$646,000 20 Long Creek Circle...........$300,000 1855 Eagle Peak Ave ..........$599,000 1445 Yosemite Circle ...........$632,500 22 Clark Creek Cir ...............$275,000 1723 Indian Wells Wy ..........$525,000 217 Round House Pl ...........$515,000 542 Mount Dell Dr................$475,000 1505 Haviland Ct .................$440,000 18 Mount Eden Pl ................$630,000 608 Black Point Ct ...............$660,000 47 El Portal Dr .....................$630,000 BRE #01446062



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September 27, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 3

Club News


Clayton Historical Society’s Chartered Caboose Ride and Fundraiser Clayton Historical Society members rode the rails in a Santa Fe caboose on the Niles Canyon Railway on Sept. 15. The event was a museum fundraiser and tribute to the 150th anniversary of the groundbreaking of the First Transcontinental Railroad in Sacramento. The caboose traveled through Niles Canyon, which was the last leg of the First Transcontinental Railroad route from Sacramento to the Bay Area. Travelers enjoyed refreshments while hearing a narrated history of the route

Keith E. Neuneker

and participated in a sing-a-long of railroad songs performed by Rail Dust Randy and Jeff Crady of Tone Pony.

Apr. 23, 1920 – Aug. 31, 2013

To learn more about the First Transcontinental Railroad, the effects of railroads in American culture and local railroad history, please visit the current exhibit, “RAILROADS of the Clayton and Diablo Valleys, and beyond…”at the Clayton Historical Society Museum. The museum is open on Wednesdays and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 6101 Main St. For more information, go to


Pioneer Photo Album Steve Barton snapped this great shot of a red fox relaxing poolside at his Jeffrey Ranch home. The fox listens intently as Cindy Barton talks to him through the sliding glass door. The fox hung around the Barton’s backyard for most of the day.

Rotary Club of Concord members Parmod Kumar and Karen Simmons (standing) present Cambridge Friday Folders to teacher Joyce DensmoreThomas and Principal Jose Espinoza. This is the sixth year the club provided folders to Cambridge Elementary, Concord, students to carry homework assignments. For more information, go to

The Pioneer is proud to spotlight our readers’ photos. Email your photo in a high-resolution format to with a description of the photo, where and when it was taken and a little about why you like it. Include your name and phone number. Then look for it in the next Pioneer.

Keith E. Neuneker, a longtime resident of Concord and Clayton, passed away at the age of 93 in Sonora, surrounded by family. He was born in Illinois to Ernest and Ethel Neuneker and raised by his Aunt Nellie and Uncle John Wallick when his mother died shortly after his birth. In 1939 he joined the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of Lt. Commander before his retirement in 1959. His second career was at Buchanan Airfield in Concord, where he retired as Airport Operations Supervisor in 1980. He obtained his private pilot’s license in 1947 and his commercial license (single-engine) in 1963. He served in the Civil Air Patrol from 1956 to 1973 and was a member of 184 Flying Club from 1957 to 1974. His many interests included carpentry, electronics, reading and photography. He was a member of the Concord Camera Club for 30 years and owned Ken’s Camera Repair for 10 years. He was a 31-year member of Bethel Baptist Church in Concord. In 1943, Keith married Ethel Mathewson and they raised three children. She died in 1983. They were married 40 years. In 1984, he married Betty Minster.

Keith is survived by his wife of 29 years, Betty Neuneker, his children Ruth Ann (Paul Dettman, Jr.) of Columbia, Calif., Donna Neuneker (Stevan Grah) of Moab, Utah, and John Neuneker (Julie) of Houston, Texas; Betty’s children, John and Debbie Minster, of Cottonwood, Calif. and Judi and Wally Imfeld III of Selma, Calif.; and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. Donations in Keith’s memory may be made to Hospice of the Sierra, 20100 Cedar Rd., North Sonora, CA, 95370, or Aplastic Anemia and MDS Int’l Foundation, 100 Park Ave., Ste. 108, Rockville, MD 20580.


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- Windermere Clayton!

Page 4

Clayton Pioneer •

The Floor Store’s Columbus Day Sale: Monday October 7th – Monday October 14th:

Designer Carpet, Traditional & Exotic Hardwood, Imported Tile and Stone, All on Sale. And Did We Mention...

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September 27, 2013

Jumpin’ jujubes – it’s fall! DEBRA J. MORRIS Pacific Coast Farmers Market

Autumn brings lots of wonderful fruits and vegetables to the farmers’ market like winter squash, root vegetables, apples, pears and more. But also arriving are interesting little jujubes – no, not the candy jujube, but the Asian fruit jujube. Crisp like an apple and sweet like a date, jujubes are tree fruit that resemble a fresh date with deep brown/burgundy skin color, white flesh, and then wrinkled when the fruit is dried. They can be found at the farmers’ market at many vegetable producers’ stalls this time of year. Originally from China, India and some Middle Eastern countries, this fruit is now widely cultivated in California with many varieties available. Sometimes called Chinese dates, the fruit ripens to a reddish color on the tree with soft edible skin and creamy white meat. The fruit then shrivels on the tree into a date-like wrinkled fruit. Fresh ripe jujubes will keep about a week in the

refrigerator, but have the best flavor if eaten soon after purchase. They will not ripen further once removed from the tree, although they can bruise. The fruit at the farmers’ market is sold in the ripe or dried stage. Take home a bag for munching or made into a traditional cake. When dried, they can be used in any recipe calling for chopped dates. JUJUBE RICE PUDDING 8 jujube fruits, peeled and diced 2 cups jasmine rice 2 cups 2 percent milk 1 cup water 1 Tbsp. honey 1/3 cup sugar 2 tsp. cinnamon

Simmer jujubes in 1/2 cup water for 15 minutes. In another pot, bring to boil milk, water and jasmine rice. Reduce to simmer. Add the softened jujubes to the rice and milk and simmer for another 20 minutes. Stir now and then, and watch the pudding for dryness. If you find that it starts to get too thick, add more water. Add in honey, sugar, and cinnamon. Makes about six servings and can be eaten warm or cold. You can add nuts or raisins as a variation. See you at the farmers’ market on Morris Street in downtown Clayton.

Clayton Reads





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This classic book published 60 years ago still resonates with today’s readers. Guy Montag is a fireman in a world where firemen start fires, instead of putting them out. His job is to destroy printed books, the most illegal commodity of all. Guy begins to question the society in which books and the leisure, thought, and tolerance necessary to enjoy them are no longer valued. Read this 1953 classic to find out more about the regime and what happens to Guy and other people who keep books alive. Clayton Reads is part of the Contra Costa Library system’s One City, One Book program. It encourages community members to focus on reading one book and join related book discussions. Starting Oct. 1 and while supplies last, readers may pick up a free copy of the book at the Clayton Library. The Clayton Community Library Foundation, sponsor of the program, asks that readers pass the book along to another reader when finished. For more information, go to



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This wonderful home features two master suites, a large great room with vaulted ceilings, fireplace, hearth and plenty of light bright charm! Newly installed warm cherry laminate flooring enhances the updated kitchen and dining areas. The landscaped yards include grass play area, flower beds, and lovely entertaining deck. Relax and entertain on your large veranda! Don’t’ miss this sharp property.

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September 27, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Tenth Oktoberfest pours into Clayton

P.O. Box 1246 6200 Center Street, Suite H, Clayton, CA 94517 TAMARA AND R OBERT S TEINER , Publishers TAMARA S TEINER , Editor P ETE C RUZ , Graphic Design P EGGY S PEAR , Copy Editor J AY B EDECARRÉ, Sports PAMELA W IESENDANGER , Administration

GARY CARR Special to the Pioneer

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

We remember Jill Bedecarré - Her spirit is our muse


MB but not bigger than 6MB. You can also mail or bring your print to the office and we can scan it for you. Also on the website are forms for calendar items, events & press releases. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The Clayton Pioneer welcomes letters from our readers. As a general rule, letters should be 250 words or less and submitted at least one week prior to publication date. Letters concerning current issues will have priority. We may edit letters for length and clarity. All letters will be published at the editor’s discretion. Please include name, address and daytime telephone number. We will not print anonymous letters. E-mail your letter to Letters MUST be submitted via E-mail.


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

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

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Clayton’s gala Oktoberfest returns for its tenth year of Bier, Wurst, and joyful Gemutlichkeit. The festivities take over Main Street in downtown Clayton on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 8p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 6 from 10a.m. to 6 p.m. Back for their tenth year, the featured entertainers will be The Internationals, the biggest little German band in the West. “The Internationals are one of the premier Oktoberfest bands in the U.S. and consider Clayton’s Oktoberfest as one of their favorites,” says long-time Oktoberfestian Ed Hartley. Central to any Oktoberfest are the food and libations. German beer will flow, along with wine, and cider. Wiener schnitzel, sausages, hot pretzels, and of course sauerkraut, will be available at the Food Court, along with other ethnic delights. New this year, professional pourers will fill the steins, assuring just the right foam-to-beer ratio. Also new is The Sardine Family Circus, an acrobatic troupe who will perform at various times on both days. “Not to be missed,” says our informant. The many arts and crafts booths will display early holiday gift ideas – jewelry, beaded handbags, children’s clothing and quirky items for the relative who has everything. For the kids, it’s glitter tattoos, face-painting, hot dogs and lemonade. Again this year, the Paul Maurer Show brings everyone’s favorite carnival rides. The Carnival opens a day in advance of Oktoberfest, Friday, Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. Saturday,

Oct. 5, rides go ‘round from 11a.m. to 10p.m., and on Sunday, Oct. 6 from 11a.m. to the close of Oktoberfest. Tickets for the carnival rides will be presold at $10 for 20 tickets and will be available at the following downtown Clayton merchants: Ed’s Mudville Grill, Hairs the Place, The Royal Rooster and Skipollini’s Pizza. As always, Oktoberfest is sponsored and overseen by the Clayton Business and Community Association. Along with the Art & Wine Festival, Oktoberfest is CBCA’s major fundraiser. This year’s co-chairs are Mary Ann Lawrence and Marilyn Schmidt. Both have worked on the event for many years. Without the help of hundreds of volunteers from all over the community, none of the fundraising events could happen, says Keith Haydon, CBCA president. Proceeds from CBCA fundraisers go to support local community projects. “It’s not just CBCA members volunteering, but people from throughout Clayton and Concord and elsewhere who put in the time and effort pouring wine or putting up tents, or whatever needs to be done,” Haydon says. Volunteers are always needed, Haydon points out. And he guarantees that working on Oktoberfest is both rewarding and fun, even without the lederhosen. For information on getting involved, or about Oktoberfest or the Carnival, call CBCA at 925-6722272 or visit


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

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Belfast Plumbing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .457-5423 Burkin Electric . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-1519 Diablo View Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .822-5144 Gary’s Home Repair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .787-2500 Iron Horse Concrete . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .595-3951 Steffan Smith Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .914-0497 Tipperary Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216-2679 Dining and Entertainment Center Street Deli & Café . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-1203 Clayton Club Saloon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .673-0440 Five Guys Burgers and Fries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-6030 Oakhurst Country Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9737 Events Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .825-9090 Financial, Insurance and Legal Services DuRee, Daniel – The Law Office of . . . . . . . . . . .210-1400 Littorno, Richard – The Law Office of . . . . . . . . .432-4211 Prosperitas Wealth Management . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-7700 Sorensen, David – Wells Fargo . . . . . . . . . . . . . .296-3086 Van Wyck, Doug – State Farm Insurance . . . . . .672-2300 Funerals Ouimet Funeral Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .682-4242 Groceries Doorstep Farmers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .349-4568

Optometry Foresight Optometry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-4100 Pet Services Cat Hospital of Clayton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2287 Monte Vista Veterinary Hospital . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-1100 Pittsburg Pet Resort . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .432-7387 Rodie's Feed and Pet Supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-4600 Real Estate and Mortgage Services French, Lynne – Windermere Real Estate . . . . . .672-8787 Geddes-Sinclaire, Christine – RE/MAX Realty . .286-7593


Howard, Don – Better Homes Realty . . . . . . . . . .408-3184

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

Howard, Emily – Better Homes Realty . . . . . . . .408-1871


Mazzei, Matt – Mazzei Realty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .693-0757

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Home and Garden Clayton Furniture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .686-2299 Diablo Lawnscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .381-3757 Interiors Panache . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-7920 Nichols Landscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9955 Refresh Pool Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .286-8601 The Floor Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .969-9890 The Maids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .798-6243 Utopic Gardens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .524-0055 Waraner Bros. Tree Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .831-2323 Waraner Tree Experts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .250-0334

Clayton Community School at Mt. Diablo Elementary offers school-age childcare 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Preschool 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Mon.Fri. Call 672-0388 for details or go to

Our amenities include:

Page 5

Help Fight Hunger Anna Chan – AKA: The Lemon Lady needs your help! Weekly commitment appreciated. For more info and contact numbers, go to Clayton Historical Society Museum needs a greeter for two hours per month from 2-4 p.m. Wednesdays or Sundays. Call the museum at 6720240 and leave your name. Clayton Community Library Needs volunteers. Minimum age 13. Minimum commitment is 6 months. Some training provided. Contact: Arlene at 673-9777 or

Klock, Leigh – Coldwell Banker . . . . . . . . . . . . . .212-5593 Laurence, Pete – RE/MAX Realty . . . . . . . . . . . .890-6004 Lopez, Stephanie – Coldwell Banker . . . . . . . . . .932-7329

Vujnovich, George - Better Homes Realty . . . . . .672-4433 Recreation and Fitness Clayton Valley Bowl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-4631 Earthquake Arabians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .360-7454 Levity Fitness Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2995 Senior Services Chateau on Broadway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .686-1700 Courtyards at Pine Creek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .798-3900 Montecito – Oakmont Senior Living . . . . . . . . . . .852-6702 Services, Other 1-800-Junkster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .800-586-5783 ComputersUSA! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9989 Net Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-6029 Travel Travel to Go . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9840

Responsibility Do the Right Thing

Page 6

Clayton Pioneer •

September 27, 2013

Scary fall teaches life lessons to Northgate students IVAR LAANEN Special to the Pioneer

Walnut Creek hosts the rolling hills and tremendous cliffs the Northgate community knows as Castlerock Park. Trails such as Borges Ranch and Rock City are traveled by all ages, yet such amazing natu-

ral features include peril. Northgate High Senior Adham Habibi learned this while trekking the area with some friends last May, when he fell from a steep cliff. Now just sporting a brace, Habibi had casts on both arms for months and is dealing with back contusions to this day. Yet he remains

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happened.” After the drop, Habibi found the strength to walk back to Castlerock Road where he would eventually be dropped at his mother’s home before being rushed to the John Muir Hospital. The story became a hot topic around Northgate as it hit home to the many who walk along those same trails everyday. “We’ve been there many times, everyone has,” said senior Alim Marigev, who was also at the scene. “That’s why it was insane to see one of my best friends drop like that. I thought I lost him” At the hospital, doctors informed Habibi of his injuries. “I shattered my left wrist and broke my right arm,” he said. “On my back was a line of severe bruising two inches from my spine. If I had landed differently, I could have been paralyzed. I just want to make it clear no substances were involved in this. The worst part

This photo was taken of Adham Habibi by his friends just moments before he fell 65 feet. Although he suffered broken bones and serious bruises, he says he’s lucky to be alive.

was telling my mom what happened – that felt worse than the injuries.” Not only is this a great conversation-starter for Adham

but a life lesson for all. Don’t take anything or anyone for granted. One misstep can take life away from anyone.

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upbeat, for this accident could have been fatal. One false step sent the student into a plunge. On Friday, May 24, Habibi and four other friends finished school and headed over to the park just a mile down the road from Northgate. Near the end of their trip, the unthinkable happened. “I fell off a cliff,” Habibi said. “ I scaled a cliff with friends and the rock below me crumbled. Most of the guys quit after 15-20 feet but I kept going. At about 60 feet I was finally able to stand up and see everything around me.” Friends took a few photos of Adham while atop the rock and he fell soon after. “I fell forward and began to freefall,” Habibi said, “All I remember while in air was calmly saying ‘this is it.’” Habibi landed on his back, and shockingly got up immediately. “It was surreal,” said senior Kyle Hearn, a witness to the scene. “It was as if it hadn’t

Vineyard Shopping Center

5100 Clayton Road Concord, CA 94523 ph: 925-689-6245

It doesn’t pay to puff in downtown Concord anymore. First passed unanimously by the city council in 2011, the ordinance to ban smoking encompasses the approximately 17 blocks that are centered around Todos Santos Plaza. Urged on by downtown-area businesses and residents, the council first passed the ban because our major concern is for the safety of all of our community. This ordinance helps to make a more healthy and welcoming place for residents, customers and visitors. Since 2011, smokers have generally complied with the ban. The Concord police have noticed a reduction in smoking in the prohibition area, and gave out more than 400 warnings over the first six months of the new ordinance to smokers in order to educate the public prior to issuing citations. After the first six-month warning period, approximately 104 citations have been given through March 2013, with the citation trend diminishing over time and ultimately becoming more selfpolicing. Downtown restaurants and property owners believe the ban has made the downtown more attractive to the general public. However, a few of the businesses along Pacheco Street have


CONCORD BEAT expressed their concerns about the impact of smokers congregating around their businesses and doorways in order to smoke because they are located just outside of the downtown nosmoking boundary. These businesses asked that the city to expand its smoking ban to include them, which the council did at the end of May. Included in our downtown smoking ban are e-cigarettes. It would be more difficult to enforce a smoking ban if they would be allowed and there are still safety concerns associated with the e-cigarettes. Although tobacco-less, with e-cigarettes, you are smoking nicotine. It is misleading to promote e-cigarettes as “safe” and a “harmless alternative” to cigarettes, as they could potentially lead to a new generation of smokers more

likely to become tobacco dependent. Over the past several years, the city has taken a number of proactive steps to limit smoking in public areas, including city parks, trails and open space areas. In these areas, regulations have essentially been self-policing and have resulted in reduced smoking in city parks. The US Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, and outdoor exposure can

be as toxic as indoor exposure. Second-hand smoke is a proven killer, causing as many as 53,000 deaths each year in the United States, approximately 6,000 of which occur in California. The Concord City Council is working hard to keep our city safe for everyone. Ron Leone, a Concord city councilman and former mayor, welcomes comments and questions. Call him at 925-680-1776 or

Second workshop on future of downtown Concord is Oct. 7 Residents are encouraged to attend the second community workshop on the Downtown Concord Specific Plan set for Monday, Oct. 7 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The workshop will be held at Salvio Pacheco Square, 2151 Salvio St., second floor, Suite 201. Concord’s downtown is wellloved, with over 150,000 people visiting Todos Santos Plaza every year for the summer music programs, community events and farmers’ markets. Businesses around Todos Santos Plaza have seen a resurgence over the last

ten years. The Downtown Specific Plan will present a vision for how the area will develop over the next 20 to 30 years. After the first workshop, held in May, the project’s steering committee has been working to incorporate public input from attendees into a draft vision statement and proposed plan for review at the Oct. 7 workshop. Space is limited. Those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP to Senior Planner Joan Ryan, or (925) 671-3370.

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The hundreds of residents enjoying Concord’s Thursday night concert series and farmers’ market at Todos Santos Plaza this summer was a beautiful sight to civic leaders; what wasn’t so pretty was the temporary barricades separating the park from busy Willow Pass Road. Put up for safety reasons, the temporary fence may have kept revelers – and many small children – away from traffic. But it still was not as safe – or as aesthetically pleasing – as a permanent fence could be, said City Councilman Ron Leone. That will change for next year, Leone says, as the council has directed the city’s design review board to finalize a new four-foot high iron fence for that length of the plaza, com-

THIS PROPOSED ARCHWAY will be part of the iron fence project at Todos Santos Park

plete with entry-way arches. “It’s not elaborate, but it will be very nice,” Leone says. He points out that this structure will not “fence in” Todos Santos Plaza, as some residents feared, but provide an attractive security barrier at the busy

downtown gathering spot. The cost of the new fence will be about $170,000, and comes from a special fund set up to beautify and enhance Concord’s quality of life, Leone says. “It’s not coming from the

city’s General Fund, but from a fund dedicated to this type of project,” he says. Leone adds that the council and the design review board have worked to keep the design simple, to keep costs down, but still something that reflects the plaza and the city. “We will probably have an inscription over the archway saying, ‘Welcome to Todos Santos Plaza,’ or something like that, with perhaps the city seal,” Leone says. “We sent the plans back to the design review board to finalize the plans, and I am assured it will be quite aesthetically pleasing.” “Don’t worry, there are no spirit poles,” he says, referring to the controversial art that used to grace downtown. The new fence should be installed in time for the 2014 summer concert series.

September 27, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 7

Economic upswing may make you an ‘accidental investor’ Q. When I bought my home I rented out my previous home even though I had a negative cash flow. I couldn’t sell it for what I owed at that time. Since then I was able to refinance to a lower interest rate. I now have a positive cash flow. I also have equity since prices have gone up. Though I could now sell it for more than I owe, I like the steady cash flow. Is this an unusual situation? A. Not at all. A new term, “accidental investor,” has been coined recently. Your experience is the definition of this. And I must say congratulations for things working out this way for you. There is little research tracking “accidental investors” com-

themselves investors at all. Median home prices fell more than 28 percent between 2006 and 2011. In the last two years they have rebounded more than 20 percent. Many former underwater-home owners are taking advantage of the chance to sell them now. This is releasing much needed inventory into the market. Others, like yourself, like the steady cash flow and don’t mind being a landlord.


REAL ANSWERS pared to “intentional investors,” though there could be more “accidental” than “intentional” investors these days. The reason it is hard to track is because these investors don’t consider

Q. I am getting my home ready to sell. Before I list it could you just give me a down and dirty list of the most important things to do? I have some money to put toward getting it ready to sell but I have a tight budget.

A. In my experience, the top three turnoffs to a buyer are dirt, odor and clutter. 1. Make sure your home is in the cleanest condition it has ever been: windows, carpet, all walls and surfaces. If carpet doesn’t clean up with professional treatment you might consider replacing it. You can also steam-clean tile and grout. What is important is how a buyer feels when they walk through the space. Remember to tidy the outside as well. 2. Before you start the deep cleaning though, remove personal items and treasures. The buyer wants to picture their things in the home. The more interesting your things are, the more distracting they will be to a buyer.

3. Odors are a huge turn off. Try not to cook fried, spicy food or fish when it is on the market. The other rooms most prone to smell in a house are the rooms where there is a lot of fabric. Curtains and upholstery absorb odors. Get them cleaned. Take whatever steps you must to eliminate pet odors. Don’t smoke in or near the house, please. These days people are very sensitive to smoke and pet smells. 4. Some of the least expensive things you can do to give your home an updated look is replace old light fixtures. Also door knobs and new cabinet hardware don’t cost much. If it is in your budget, a new garage door really updates the front. 5. Two things that make a

house look dated are acoustic (popcorn) ceilings and wallpaper. In the 1960s and 1970s popcorn ceilings were considered an upgrade. Now they date a home. And wallpaper is a totally personal taste. It would be unusual for a buyer to have the exact some taste as you. If you can find the money in your budget, removing both the acoustic ceilings and the wallpaper would be a huge plus. Remember to repaint the walls with a neutral color. 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 672-878 7or stop in at 6200 Center St., Clayton.

Five easy ways to upgrade your space Can you imagine the trouble we’d all get into if we had bottomless home-improvement budgets? I can see the possibilities now. Kitchens designed for the Julia Child or Thomas Keller within us all or glamorous master bedroom suites with walk-in closets approved by our best fictitious gal pal Carrie Bradshaw. Yes, a bottomless budget would be quite exciting but until that lottery-winning day arrives, here are my top five design upgrade categories to get your house looking like a million bucks. FINISH DETAILS What makes a living space truly unique and beautiful are the finish details: high-gloss

paint applied to door and window casings, decorative handpainted tile used for kitchen and bathroom backsplashes, or low voltage lighting found under the shelves of a grand bookcase, softly illuminating the books and personal collectibles. These small details create a subtle ambiance that may not jump out at you when you enter a living space, but the look as a whole will capture your interest. ARCHITECTURAL DETAILS If you live in a house where interesting architectural details are somewhat non-existent, this is your chance to give your living space some design direction: Wood beams incorporated into a ceiling layout will always add character to an otherwise

plain ceiling. When adding beams to a ceiling, the key is to make them look structural. Large windows are always a great way to bring the light in, as well as break up long, solid, boring interior walls. Crown molding is a very elegant detail to add to the top of your walls, where the ceiling meets. This molding is typically finished in the same paint or stain as your door and window casings. The addition of new interior doors is a great way to update your home. New doors come in many different styles and can be painted or stained to reflect your design aesthetic. LIGHTING Layer your lighting! Lighting is a very important design ele-


DESIGN & DÉCOR ment for any living space. Every living space needs to have a certain amount of general, accent and task lighting. General lighting is used to illuminate the entire living space,. Accent lighting is used to highlight certain

See Design, page 8


Have you reviewed your trusts this year? If your estate plan includes one or more trusts, it’s a good idea to review them in light of recent tax changes. Higher income taxes — on individuals as well as trusts — may lead you to rethink the way your trusts are structured. This year, several tax hikes took effect for “high earners.” They include: A top income tax rate of 39.6% (up from 35%) for taxable income above $400,000 for single filers ($450,000 for joint filers), A 20 percent rate for longterm capital gains and qualified dividends (up from 15%) for taxpayers in the top bracket, and A new 3.8 percent tax on net investment income for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income over $200,000 for single filers ($250,000 for joint filers). Trusts are also subject to all of these tax increases, but the income threshold is only $11,950 in 2013.


ESTATE PLANNING A trust’s tax impact depends in part on whether it’s structured as a grantor or nongrantor trust. A grantor trust is designed so that you’re treated as its owner for income tax purposes, even though your contributions are considered “completed gifts” for estate planning purposes. By paying the trust’s income taxes, you allow the trust to grow tax-free, leaving more for your heirs. And you can sell assets to a grantor trust without

tax consequences. Despite these advantages, if higher tax rates have become a burden, you might consider converting a grantor trust to a nongrantor trust to shift the tax liability to the trust. Keep in mind, though, that the trust will also be subject to higher tax rates. You can reduce the tax bite on a nongrantor trust by 1) shifting trust assets into taxexempt or tax-deferred investments, or 2) distributing trust income to beneficiaries in lower tax brackets (generally, trusts are taxed only on undistributed income). But you should weigh potential tax savings against the benefits of keeping assets in the trust — including creditor protection and wealth preservation.

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Between Vancouver and AnchorageRoundtrip Seattle, Vancouver and San Francisco also available. Fares based on Crown Princess® 5/10/14 sailing. Government fees of $165 are additional and subject to change.


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Roundtrip Copenhagen or Warnemünde

Richard A. Littorno is an attorney specializing in estate planning. Send your questions to

Fares based on Royal Princess® 5/12/14 sailing. Government fees of $185 are additional and subject to change.

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** Reduced deposit of $100 per person applies to all passengers in a stateroom. Promo code RB3 /RTC. Offer expires: October 31, 2013. Note: For assistance reserving a wheelchair-accessible stateroom, please contact customer service at 1-800-774-6237. © 2013 Princess Cruises. Ships of Bermudan registry.

Page 8

Clayton Pioneer •

Striking facts on nature’s fireworks

Steffan Smith Construction ward ” A n o a ti v r e e s r “P r 2012 w inner for this s Art s & Cra ft kitchen !


WEATHER WORDS A few weeks ago Bay Area residents were treated to one of Mother Nature’s best visual displays, a lightning storm. Hundreds of lightning strikes lit up the skies during that event. Thunderstorms are relatively rare in our area. During the dry season, California weather tends to be influenced by a strong area of high pressure that keeps us warm and dry. During the late summer

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months of August and September, subtle changes in the jet stream can carry monsoon moisture into the U.S. southwest. Monsoon-related summer thunderstorms frequently develop in the mountains of New Mexico and Arizona. Occasionally, the summer monsoon moisture moves northward to the Bay Area. We first notice an increase in the mugginess of the air. Clouds tend to form late in the updrafts caused by surface heating. Under the right atmospheric conditions thunderstorms develop. Lightning is produced when liquid and ice particles collide and build up large electrical fields in the clouds. Water droplets in the bottom part of the cloud are caught in updrafts and lifted to an altitude of much colder air and become ice particles. Downdrafts in the storm cloud push ice and hail down from the top of the cloud. The falling ice particles collide with the rising droplets. These collisions strip electrons from the ice and droplet molecules, resulting in

fields of positive and negative charges. When these electric fields become large enough, a giant spark occurs. We call that spark lightning. The lightning spark can occur inside a cloud, between clouds, or between the cloud and ground. Cloud-to-ground lightning bolts can contain up to one billion volts of electricity. In a fraction of a second, lightning heats the air around it to temperatures in excess of 50,000 degrees. The heated air near a lightning bolt expands rapidly. This superheated column of air cools rapidly and contracts. This creates a cracking sound, which is immediately followed by a rumbling sound as the column of air vibrates. We call that thunder. Light waves travel much faster than sound waves, so it is possible to estimate how far an observer is from a lightning strike by counting the number of seconds between the flash and the sound. A five-second gap corresponds to about one mile.


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Richard A. Littorno

For the past few decades, meteorologists have been able to track the number of lightning strikes using an array of ground based lightning detection sensors. Analyses of these data indicate that nearly 80 percent of all lightning bolts are cloud-to-cloud types, with the remaining 20 percent of the strikes reaching the ground. Florida, with an average of nearly 1.5 million ground strikes per year, leads all states in lightning strike frequency. California records nearly 85,000 cloud-toground strikes per year, and the majority of those occur in the higher elevations of the Sierras. September is typically a warm and dry month in the Clayton area. It is also a month when monsoon moisture can sneak up from the south, trigger thunderstorm activity, and provide us with an awesome display of nature’s fireworks. Woody Whitlatch, a retired PG&E meteorologist, regularly writes the Pioneer’s Weather Words column in addition to contributing frequent travel articles.


FASHION OVER 50 Shaving is never fun, but we do it. We women are taught at a young age that it’s part of good grooming. Hence, we risk our lives wobbling on one leg in the shower to shave our legs and suffer the itch of the occasional underarm rash, all in the name of looking our best. Here are some tips that can make shaving look and feel smoother: 1) Don’t shave right after getting out of bed. Skin is puffy in the morning (think about your eyes), making stubble less visible. 2) Be sure to moisten hair. Hair conditioner works better than shaving cream. Soap won’t hold moisture long enough and tends to clog the razor.

3) Use a fresh blade to reduce drag on your skin that can leave skin red, blotchy, and irritated. Old-time razors (the ones with replaceable blades) have heavier handles, allowing for a closer shave. Blades are good for five uses. 4) Shave opposite hair growth. It prevents hair from curling under the skin and becoming ingrown. 5) Use a light touch to avoid nicks and cuts. 6) Always apply a moisturizer after shaving to prevent flaky skin. 7) Bathe or shower before shaving. Hydrating hair with warm water first swells and softens stubble, producing and closer shave. 8) If you shave your bikini area, don’t stop when bathing suit season ends. Discontinuing shaving the bikini line will cause it to become overly sensitive. You don’t want to have to

Design, from page 7 areas or objects, and task is used for purposes such as reading or working on your laptop. By creating layers of lighting, you will end up with a living space that glows with character. WINDOW TREATMENTS Window treatments add a decorative and functional layer to your windows. Sun control, privacy and insulation are all

benefits to window treatments, as well as the opportunity to add a decorative texture or pattern with the use of fabric or woven woods. Embellish your windows and they will become decorative accents, and not just a hole in an exterior wall. FURNITURE A well-functioning furniture plan can make any living space

“break” it in again. (Hint: A beard trimmer at the lowest setting works well for the bikiniline hairs. It leaves no unsightly red bumps.) If you wax this area, first dust skin with baby powder. It helps wax adhere to hairs. If you have the waxing done at a salon, try to find one that uses natural French low temperature wax. It will be less painful. Live long and pester! Judith Marshall is the author of “Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever.” Send comments to

look pulled together. If you have lived with the same furniture plan for the last few years, take a chance and really mix it up. Consider editing your furniture by removing pieces that do nothing for the space, and replace with new pieces that add style and function. Jennifer Leischer is the owner of J. Designs Interior Design based in Clayton. Contact her with questions, comments and suggestions at

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ARRESTS Sept. 11, 12:10 p.m. Lydia Ln./Clayton Rd. A 36year-old Lafayette female was arrested for driving while license suspended. Sept. 13, 11:06 a.m. 5400 Clayton Rd. A 48-

year-old Concord male was arrested for disorderly conduct: alcohol. Sept. 14, 11:32 p.m. Clayton Rd./Mitchell Canyon Rd. A 60-year-old Clayton female was arrested for DUI. Sept. 17, 2:20 p.m. 5400 Clayton Rd. A 35-year-old Concord male was arrested for possession of a controlled substance; possess marijuana 28.5 grams or less or with prior; possess controlled substance paraphernalia.

Sept. 18, 11:13 a.m. Main St./Marsh Creek Rd. A 30-year-old Concord male was arrested for driving while license suspended. Sept. 18, 9:42 p.m. Marsh Creek Rd./Center St. A 19-year-old Concord male was arrested for possessing marijuana for sale; possession of a controlled substance. An 18-year-old male passenger from Clayton was also arrested. BURGLARIES/THEFTS Sept. 7, Bridlewood Ct. Burglary – Vehicle. Sept. 12, 5400 Clayton Rd. Burglary – Commercial.

September 27, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 9

Teen apathy now may have global impact in the future ROBBIE PARKER

TEENSPEAK As part of Clayton Valley Charter High School’s ultimate plan to prepare students for college and the “real world,” I’ve been reasonably exposed to most local and global current events within my history classes. In fact, the first unit of my sophomore world history course was simply a “who’s who, and what’s what” guide to our world today. While

Preparing students for 21st Century job market

certain individuals may be innately interested in such curriculum, lecturing a group of teenagers on the impact of United Nations policies, or the most recent stimulus package, produced a collective sigh of tedium. While the resulting behavior of students is to some extent understandable, the apathetic reaction toward one topic in particular completely irritated me. The source of my exasperation, one of the most prominent and explosive global conflicts today, is the Syrian Civil War. After three years of unrelenting rebellion against the Syrian government, the country’s dictator Bashar al-Assad, is making headlines after using deadly chemical weapons on his own people. In response, Congress will decide whether to attack Syria. In addition to Syria’s promise to follow the rules of engagement, the civil war is also igniting conflict between the U.S and Russia, an ally of the Syrian government. The world could potentially be at the brink of a third world war, and future voters are ranking their level of concern along-

side watching paint dry. In fact, a study from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government discovered less than 40 percent of American teenagers paid any attention to daily news or current events. While the media deems these politically listless teenagers as ignorant, many have little reason to care. It comes as no surprise the average teen’s apathy toward politics considering the carefree lifestyle many live today. Never have I, nor my peers, ever faced paying taxes or refinancing a home. The most challenging daily obstacles we encounter include completing homework, arriving at practice on time, or meeting this week’s “trending” set of social expectations. We criticize and groan at our parttime odd jobs at the library, mall or local coffee shop – let alone manage a full time occupation. Living without a functioning Wi-Fi signal, or sitting at home grounded on Friday night is the most catastrophic tribulation we can imagine. Keeping track of due dates and deadlines is already a hassle, much less monitoring political negotiations.

As an average American teenager of this generation, I must admit, I am more than capable of sufficiently living a blissfully ignorant lifestyle. I am more than capable of living in a sheltered bubble, deaf and blind to worldwide tragedies. Yet, my generation will be eligible to vote in the next presidential election. So when I frequently hear captious comments in school along the lines of, “Why does this even matter?” or “It doesn’t really affect me, why should I care?” I become concerned for the welfare of our political system. Some of the greatest changes to everyday life, whether positive or negative, are enacted through political means. War and destruction cannot be resolved by government alone. As best summarized by the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” Robbie Parker is a junior at Clayton Valley Charter High School. Send comments to

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DAVID LINZEY VOYAGE OF THE EAGLE Today’s students are faced with greater challenges than ever before. What used to be a country full of jobs that required only low to medium skills, where a student with a high school diploma had a good shot at a prosperous life and someone with a college degree was nearly guaranteed success, has changed dramatically over the last three to four decades. Today’s students have to navigate a globalized economy, an economic recession, outrageous college tuition and ever increasing academic standards in the face of extreme student competition. To the average teenager without the proper support network, life after high school may look grim. Funny enough, many high school students are still looking at their prospective futures through rose-colored glasses because nobody has bothered to tell them how stark reality is. According to a presentation Condoleezza Rice made last year to business leaders from across the country, 70 percent of the youth in America today will be ineligible for the military due to one or more of these factors: failed ASVAB (once a diagnostic, this standard military test is now an entrance exam that is recalibrated every six months), high school dropout, health and obesity problems, or criminal record. The business leaders’ reactions were that if the youth of today are not eligible for the military, there is no way that they are ready for entry level jobs in middle-class America. The logical conclusion is that if these individuals are not ready for entry level jobs then they will likely remain unemployed or underemployed. It follows then that 70 percent of the youth in America today are headed for some form of public assistance (welfare, food stamps, etc.). Let that sink in for a minute. It used to be that if you couldn’t get into a good school or land a good job you always had the military option. Today however, what was once the “backup” plan is now not an option for 70 percent of our young population. Responsible educators are tackling this problem of raising academic skills and preparing our students for the careers of the 21st century. Certainly critical

See Job Market, page 18

CVCHS musicians toot their own horns at Music-A-Thon

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Offering All-Season CVCHS BAND STUDENTS GATHER IN THE GROVE AT LAST YEAR’S MUSIC-A-THON. The event is a major fundraiser for the music program. This year’s event is set for Oct. 12.

Things will get a little loud in Clayton on Sat., Oct. 12 as the Clayton Valley Charter High School performs its second annual Music-A-Thon. CVCHS Music Director Joseph Scott will lead more than 100 students and chaperones as they march through Clayton neighborhoods. If it sounds louder than last year, it’s because of the increased enrollment in the music department.

The band will begin playing at the Farmers’ Market at 9:45 a.m. From there the musicians will parade to the Clayton Library, then swing by Diamond Terrace, CVS and into Easley Estates and Stanahan Circle, ending at the Clayton Park gazebo for a grand finale. Residents will receive word of the Music-A-Thon via door hangers about a week before the event. Neighbors can request a

“Lawn Concert” for a $25 donation and have their own private concert performed in their own front yard. The band will also play “Happy Birthday” to anyone requesting it. This is a big fundraiser for the department but is also a way to involve the students and reach out to the community. It showcases the CVCHS music program and encourages incoming students to join in the fun.

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TEEN READS The novel “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green (Dutton Books; January, 2012) is anything but your average love story. Hazel Lancaster is a 16year-old girl with stage IV thyroid cancer, and has been living with an oxygen tank by her side ever since she was first diagnosed at age 12. One morning Hazel’s mom

practically forces her to go to a cancer support group, where there will be other teens who have cancer just like Hazel. There, Hazel meets Augustus Waters, a 17-year-old who happens to be missing a leg due to osteosarcoma. The two hit it off immediately. Both of them bond over Hazel’s favorite book of all time “An Imperial Affliction” by Peter Van Houten. The strange thing about Van Houten’s book is that it doesn’t have an ending; it stops in the middle of a scene, causing Hazel and Augustus’s curiosity to soar. Even though Hazel has written her favorite author dozens of letters, Van Houten doesn’t reply to any of his fan mail. Hazel has given up on trying to reach Van Houten, but Augustus hasn’t. As strange as it sounds, one of Augustus’s

emails reaches Van Houten in his secretive home in Amsterdam. Along with his reply comes an invitation for Augustus and Hazel to go to Amsterdam to meet and discuss the book with him. Accepting the risky and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Hazel and Augustus embark on a trip to Amsterdam. While there, the two not only bond, but they create memories that they will never forget. The events that happen to Augustus and Hazel during their journey will change their lives forever. This is a book that caught my attention on the first page and didn’t let go until I reached the back cover. Everyone I know has been talking about this novel and personally, I think it’s worth the buzz. Emily York is a freshman at CVCHS.

3141 Morgan Territory Rd., Clayton




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Page 10

Clayton Pioneer •

September 27, 2013

Inferno, from page 1 opener against Green Bay on TV that afternoon. Up on Mt. Diablo, the dry winter and harsh summer heat had the land primed for disaster, as the scrub brush that laces throughout the steep hills and canyon is as flammable as gasoline this time of year. It was just after 1 p.m. when Jack Wessman called 911 to report a fire on his property at the abandoned mercury mines at Morgan Territory and Marsh Creek Roads. A relative had been target shooting, and sparked a brushfire. Knowing the threat, the California Department of Forestry – Cal Fire – responded quickly, with six engines, two that arrived within minutes, dispatched from the nearby Sunshine Station. The half-acre fire was extinguished quickly, and by 1:30 p.m., Cal Fire officials were ready to send their incoming engines back to the stations they came from – including two from Contra Costa Fire Stations 8 and 22 in Concord. That’s when Mother Nature got wily. A burned pine tree “exploded like a Roman Candle” said witnesses, spraying its pinecones and embers up to about 800 feet away. Unfortunately, one of those embers sparked a spot fire, and suddenly, the small grass fire took on new life, racing off down the canyon and up the mountain in multiple directions. It was a firefighter’s nightmare. SMOKE BILLOWS Across the bay, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Mike Marcucci was enjoying a rare weekend off, taking in the America’s Cup races in San Francisco, when he got the call. He had taken the ferry over from Larkspur. Since his truck was back in Marin, he

was forced to take a bus back across the Golden Gate Bridge – with a superb view of the smoke that was suddenly billowing from Mt. Diablo. “I knew then it wasn’t going to be good,” said the third-generation fireman. Indeed, once the smoke became visible, residents on and around Mt. Diablo began calling 911, and actively seeking out information about friends and neighbors. In the first hour of the fire, evacuation orders for Curry Creek and Oak Hill Lane were issued. As the fire raced northwards up North Peak, more evacuations began– for those who would go. Residents of Russelman Park Road, Trail Ride Road, East Trail Road, Upper Trail Road and Lower Trail Road were also asked to evacuate – or be ready to. But many folks who live on the mountain don’t want to be separated from their land, and as the fire raged, Marcucci said about 100 percent of the residents in some areas evacuated, while in other areas, only about 40 percent did. Meanwhile, Cal Fire was asking for help, ordering more engines, bulldozers, air tankers and helicopters. In all, there were 30 hand crews, 11 dozers, 85 engines, three helicopters and two large air tankers, flown in from the central valley. “We were really lucky they were there,” Marcucci says. As the quick-moving fire raced up the mountain, local civic leaders and the Red Cross set up an evacuation center at the Clayton Community Library, and a command post for the fire was set up at Station 11. The Morgan Fire – named by Cal Fire for Morgan Territory road near where the fire was located – was taking off.

THIS AERIAL SHOT COURTESY OF SAN RAMON FIRE DISTRICT, shows the wide containment line bulldozed around the perimeter of the fast moving Morgan Fire Sept 8 and 9. The photo is taken looking northeast toward the origin of the fire on Morgan Territory Rd.

FICKLE WINDS As the fire raged, it was fueled by the ubiquitous scrub brush and dried vegetation, curving into canyons and dried gullies, and creating a nearimpossible situation for the hand crews battling on foot. On Sunday, more than 700 firefighters and inmates tried to protect the homes and other structures in the fire’s path. But fickle winds made it almost impossible to track the route. “Because Mt. Diablo is round, it throws off any wind projections,” Marcucci says. “It can change in an hour, whether it is an on-shore breeze or coming from the east, it swirls

Fire damages mountain archery club

Although there were no homes lost in the Morgan Fire, the Diablo Bowman’s Club took a big hit when flames destroyed their storage trailer and snack shack. The small, non-profit located in the foothills on Morgan Territory Road had thousands of dollars worth of targets and equipment, their snack shack and wooden bridges. Over the years the members built four archery ranges and have taken care of the woods that surround the property. The range is also a wildlife refuge, home to deer, turkeys, wild pigs, bob cats, tarantulas, lizards and other creatures. Although the fire devastated the range, firefighters managed to save the clubhouse and main cookhouse. “Although the wildfire ravaged our targets, our range served as a firebreak and stopped the fire from reaching the residences beyond our property,” says club president Angel Yarnell. Members are still assessing the damage to the grounds. “We have to rebuild and rehabilitate,” Yarnell said. “We need to clean out fallen trees

Photos courtesy Diablo Bowmen

TOP: FIREFIGHTERS TAKE A STAND on the deck of the main clubhouse to save the building. The club’s storage trailed, pictured above, was not so lucky. The club lost thousands of dollars worth of equipment to the flames. and charred brush and to inspect and clear the jeep trails.” Members also will need to replant the burned trees and take steps to head off potential erosion problems when the rains start later this fall. Club members, friends and volunteers will provide the labor to rebuild. However, the club is looking to the public for help in providing the funds for building

materials and equipment replacement. See the club’s website,, for details on how to donate funds. Diablo Bowmen is a nonprofit 501(c)(7) organization. As such, donations made on behalf of individuals are not tax deductible. Donations would be made of good faith and service to the community.

around and makes it hard to track.” Further away, the eerie sight of flames licking over the top of the mountain stunned residents throughout the East Bay. By Monday morning, 2,540 acres had burned, and it was only 10 percent contained. Luckily, the light of day brought out the helicopters and air tankers again, and firefighters worked tirelessly throughout the day to save PG&E transmission lines, communication towers and the historical buildings located at the summit. About 100 homes in the area were also threatened. Roads closures were in effect: Marsh Creek Road from Camino Diablo to Regency Road in Clayton, and Morgan Territory Road from Marsh Creek Road to Highland Road in Alameda County. In East County, Deer Valley Road was closed at Balfour Road, and evacuation orders were still in effect. Firefighters were aided, however, by two DC-10s who dropped 24,000 gallons of retardant on the mountain before being called to a bigger fire burning near Shasta. Thinking they were about to get the upper hand in the fire, Cal Fire decided to move the command station from Clayton to Camp Parks in Dublin because it needed a larger space, and began the logistical headache of preparing to feed and lodge hundreds of tired and hungry firefighters and prison inmates dispatched to help on the fire lines. MONDAY NIGHT SURPRISE Unfortunately, that evening found Mother Nature once again uncooperative, and during this evening transition the the fire once again switched directions and moved toward the more heavily populated Morgan Territory. “I’ll be honest, it surprised us,” Marcucci said. “It turned and freight-trained down the mountain.” Because of the change in command posts, there was a dearth of information from firefighters. The CalFire Incident Site had not been updated all day, and local residents were unsure of whether their homes were going to be safe or not. With the lack of information came confusion and fear. People were left to rely on local blogs and social media for critical information – not always accurate. Reports that the fire had jumped Morgan Territory Road and was heading towards

the horse ranches on the East side, sent fearful horse owners scrambling to evacuate their livestock. Some anxious residents left their cars at the barricade on Marsh Creek and headed into the fire zone on foot. Others on ATVs were crossing over private property in an attempt to get to the other side of the flames. “It was chaotic,” Marcucci said. Flames were shooting more than 150 feet in the air and red embers were blowing across the road like dust. It was an inferno. At one point, resident Don Van Laeken handed a hose to KCRA news reporter Richard Sharp, who was doing live coverage, and asked him to help water down his property. Even Marcucci wasn’t immune to the effects, as he had his hair singed by the violent flames. As the blaze jumped in size Monday night, it was clear that this was a catastrophic fire, and one that would take days to contain. It was estimated at more than 4,000 acres. By Tuesday, Cal Fire had amassed an army of 100 engines, 38 fire crews, four air tankers, 11 helicopters, six water tenders and 25 bulldozers. The tide was turning. The Morgan Territory flareup had been aggressively fought by crews who literally shielded the flames from more devastating damage. Evacuation orders continued in effect. In even better news, improved aerial mapping by Cal Fire helicopters estimated the blaze at just over 3,100 acres, and not 4,000. By Tuesday night at 8 p.m. more than 1,400 firefighters were on the scene, and the fire was 60 percent contained. All evacuation orders were finally lifted by 6 p.m. Throughout the rest of the week, firefighters continued to get an upper-hand on the blaze, and started the business of “mopping up” – clearing the damage as well as possible. “In a way, we were lucky, as the fire was on this side of the mountain,” Marcucci says. “If it had been near the south gate – by Alamo, Danville, Walnut Creek and San Ramon – it is much more densely populated. I’m sure we would have lost more structures.” In fact, he says it is a “miracle” there was no loss of life or major structures. “It could have been a lot more windy,” he says. All in all, however, there were only three firefighter injuries-two twisted ankles and

one firefighter brought down for heat exhaustion. “A remarkable feat,” says Marcucci ENOUGH FIREPOWER FOR THE FIREFIGHTERS? Still, the fire demonstrates how fast such wildfires can get out of control, and leads to some inevitable questions. Had Fire Station 11 in Clayton been staffed that early afternoon, would it have made a difference? “None at all,” Marcucci said. “Cal Fire engines were at the first fire within minutes, followed closely by engines from Stations 22 and 8 from ConFire (Contra Costa County Fire District). Station 11’s closing had no impact.” That’s a sentiment echoed by County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, who fought tirelessly for Measure Q, the fire parcel tax, last fall. When it failed, the county was forced to shutter seven fire stations, including Clayton’s only station. “We had all the resources at our disposal being deployed anyway, so it’s not an issue,” she says. “We were very fortunate that there were no other fires that day, and that the winds didn’t pick up too much. It was a bad fire, but it could have been so much worse.” However, she is quick to point out that it was “strong mutual aid” between Cal Fire, ConFire, the East Contra Costa Fire District, San Ramon Fire District, Mt. Diablo State Park, local law enforcement and other local agencies that worked together that helped keep the fire from being even more damaging. Marcucci agrees that good communication between agencies is essential in this type of situation. “There were a lot of jurisdictions, and we all had a common goal.” The fire was fully contained on Sept. 14, almost a full week after it started.

THE HISTORICAL BUILDINGS at the summit of Mt. Diablo escaped damage. The scaffolding on the tower was already in place before the fire. (MDIA photo)

September 27, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Cycles, from page 1 completed work was done to protect structures and repair bulldozer tracks from the firefighting effort. Generally speaking, erosion in the burned areas is another part of nature’s healing process; in fact, erosion is as natural as fire. She said that erosion efforts undertaken in other fire aftermaths have had “a far greater impact on the environment” than simply letting things evolve naturally, including landslides. FEAR OF EROSION CalFire representatives say that water bars and a process of replacing divots over underbrush are often used to stabilize a burned area. And on Sept. 11, even before the fire was fully contained, efforts started to reseed Mt. Diablo of

vital trees and plants. Save Mt. Diablo Advancement Director Julie Seelen says her organization will be “watching very closely for erosion” in the coming months as the rains come, especially after any heavy rainfalls. She says the main concern is for debris washing down from the burn areas and clogging culverts, creeks and trails. Her staff and volunteers will be documenting “nature recovering” in the burn areas for several months and beyond. The wildflowers expected to bloom spectacularly over the next couple of years are mainly from fire-adapted species that only regenerate due to the high heat levels in a fire. Over a short time frame shrubs and mixed vegetation on the mountain will cover the wildflowers. In fact,

the pine tree that exploded and sparked the “big” fire on Mt. Diablo on Sept. 8 was only doing what nature meant it to, spewing its cones and seeds to the ground to root. Bob Doyle is general manager of the East Bay Regional Park District and one of the founders of Save Mt. Diablo. “There were flame poppies in 1978 and some in ‘79, but they dramatically reduced after the first year.” He says he found a few more in 1980 but after that only wind poppies. “The other fire plant of note was even more dramatic and that was the dicentra, or golden ear drops, which covered entire chaparral hillsides and stream washes in Donner, Back and Mitchell canyons but were gone pretty much by 1980,” he added. Even though this fire has been determined to have been man-caused, the 36-year interval since the 1977 blaze gave the

mountain ecology a chance to go through a natural cycle. On the flip side, the repetitive cycle of wildfires in Sothern California has seen chaparral completely disappear from areas, replaced by grasslands. WILDLIFE WILL RETURN Dave Matthews, public safety coordinator for the Diablo Vista District of State Parks, says that another part of the natural process is wildlife returning to their habitat. He says deer and foxes were reported in the burn areas soon after firefighters left. “Animals, like plants, have adapted to fire and repopulate rather quickly,” Matthews said. He added it is only in “very extreme” circumstances that any human efforts are used to repopulate animals or other species after a fire. Drivers on Marsh Creek and Morgan Territory roads can see many oak trees still standing in

Photos by Scott Hein/Save Mount Diablo

THESE TWO PHOTOS OF SAVE MOUNT DIABLO’S VIERA PROPERTY on the east side of North Peak, taken from the same vantage point, show the pristine land in the spring of 2009 and the fire ravaged mountainside on Monday, Sept. 16.

Heroes, from page 1 stepped forward to help members of their community. As SUVs towing trailers out of Morgan Territory passed gigantic fire trucks, bulldozers, and equipment heading to fight the Mt. Diablo fire, and American Red Cross representatives huddled with local officials in preparation for opening emergency shelters if needed, locals rallied to support one another as well. RESIDENTS RESPOND QUICKLY Clayton resident Jane Gerow saw the fire start on her neighbor’s property Sunday around 1:30 p.m. “It started directly across from my house,” she said. “It went up to the top of the mountain and over the ridge and down Morgan Territory … My neighbor saw and started yelling and alerting everyone.” As CalFire kicked into gear with the sound of sirens racing up Marsh Canyon Road towards the spreading fire, residents started making plans, some loading horses into trailers to head out. “They told us there was a voluntary evacuation on Sunday, but it was calmed down by then,” said Brooks, who has more than 15 horses on her property along with other livestock. Meanwhile, other residents, intent on getting their horses to safety as the fire grew, gathered at the Park ‘n Ride lot near Peacock Creek, where they were greeted by locals ready and eager to help. Chris Barnhart of the Concord Mt. Diablo Trail Riding Association was leaving the grounds with 13 horses.

“It’s just incredible, the way everybody came together and helped each other,” she said. “The mayor’s son stopped by with water, Clayton residents brought us food, tanks of water for the horses. It made me cry, they were such generous people.”

WATER AND PET FOOD At the library, city officials gathered with American Red Cross and other emergency workers to set up a shelter for evacuees. Their efforts, however, turned out to be mostly unneeded, as one local after another arrived to offer everything from lodging in their own homes to bags of dog and cat food for the pets of those fleeing the fire. Virginia Fraser arrived with her cat, Emma. A resident of Curry Canyon, Fraser was a block captain, and on seeing the black smoke and flames around 2 p.m., helped alert neighbors before leaving herself. “I thought it’d be a nice quiet day, sitting there reading the Sunday papers,” she said. “Then boom, all this.” Bonnie Slatkin, walked over to the library with her dog Surfer, and offered food or the use of a room in her homes for evacuees like Fraser. “I thought I’d just come down and see if there’s anything I can do to help,” she said, echoing the sentiment of a number of others with the same idea. Another family gathered resources and brought scores of sandwiches to the fire house for the personnel working the fire. Meanwhile, information was at a premium. As the fire was not within city lim-

Mayor, from page 1 over the horizon of our beloved mountain; we wondered just how big and exactly where the fire was. Was it a small grassfire or was it the fire we all dread, like the one in 1977?Alarmed by the flames cresting the ridge, it was clear to all that it was a big fire. “What’s happening? Are we in danger? Should we get ready to evacuate?” Clayton, like all local governments in California, operates under the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), the system required by California Government Code Section 8607(a) for managing emergencies involving multiple jurisdictions and agencies. SEMS has been established to provide effective management of multiagency and multi-jurisdictional

emergencies in California. By standardizing key elements of the emergency management system, following SEMS establishes a hierarchy of command or management, facilitates the flow of information within and between levels of the system, and facilitates coordination among all responding agencies. MUTUAL AID Since the fire was in the unincorporated area outside the Clayton city limits, addressing the fire was CalFire’s responsibility. While our regional ConFire and other regional departments helped coordinate the initial response, there can only be one agency in charge and it was CalFire for this wildland response. All personnel took direction from CalFire. Our

its, city officials received periodic updates from CalFire personnel, and passed it on to residents through television and social media outlets. On Monday, however, as the fire seemed to wane and fire officials temporarily gained the upper hand, an information blackout ensued as the incident command changed hands from Contra Costa Fire Protection to Cal Fire and the command center moved from Station 11 in Clayton to Camp Parks in Dublin. Suddenly, around 6 p.m. Monday, the winds changed, and the fire that seemed to be on its way to being contained flared back up and raced down the hill towards ranches and people on Morgan Territory Road. “It looked like a volcano,” said Brooks. “The black smoke, and the red, and you could see the flames.” Everyone from firefighters to residents to even members of some visiting news crews picked up hoses, and helped get horses and other animals to safety on higher ground. Long-time resident – and former firefighter – John Khashabi owns his own fire truck, and helped hose down his neighbors’ roofs. With the flow of information from CalFire temporarily cut off, the task fell to social media to pass along status updates. NEED FOR INFORMATION The anonymous Mayor of Claycord found his own website,, an information hub. “I didn’t even realize that was going to happen,” he said of the hundreds of

Clayton Police Department and the Highway Patrol also responded to help as requested and directed by CalFire. CalFire requested and received aid from many of its firefighting stations and other agencies throughout the state. The role of a local elected official in such an emergency is limited. Our job is to stay out of the way of the operation while staying informed, and helping to relay information to our community. We are necessarily not in the direct line of command. That job is left to the professionals. After receiving a call from City Manager Gary Napper, I joined him at city hall to gain accurate, up-to-the-minute news that I could then relay to area residents. Gary manned phones on Sunday, taking calls from the ConFire Public Information Officer and Clayton Police Chief Chris Thorsen to assess what our city, as

Page 11 areas consumed by the fire. Both Shafer and Matthews say that the majority of the oaks will survive and those that don’t will eventually fall and make for new habitats for small animals and critters. Matthews blames “survival of the fittest” in explaining the status of the oaks. Before the 1977 fire many pine trees on the mountain were diseased. Following the fire seeds germinated and the overall pine tree population came back very strong. Doyle adds, “The Coulter Pines were badly infested with pine beetles and went up in huge flames. Dr. [Mary] Bowerman and I noticed

that while many areas were so hot it sterilized the soils, new groves grew in more abundance but further down slope. Only a few of the pre-fire trees survive below Twin Peaks now. However some Coulters seeds were distributed by birds in new locations such as the east side of Donner Canyon where there were none before.” Matthews suggested Summit Road, the Visitor’s Center at the Summit or Curry Point as the best places for people wishing to get a good view of the fire area. And by next spring those may have glorious colorful views starting to emerge.

MDIA joins Mt. Diablo State Park in fire damage repair Mt. Diablo Interpretive Association is teaming with Mt. Diablo State Park to repair and restore the areas damaged by the Morgan Fire. MDIA is asking “those who cherish Mt. Diablo State Park” to help fund much of this work. Donations of any amount are appreciated and will be used for the designated purpose of helping the park recover and repair. Work includes repairing and replacing park structures, picnic areas, trail signage and fencing. Related work also needs to be done to repair park facilities that have suffered from neglect due to the lack of state funds. MDIA will make opening donor’s wallets a little easier: With a $100 donation or more, donors will receive “The Mt. Diablo Guide,” the newly revised guidebook to the park, including all new color photographs and updated maps and illustrations. With a $250 donation or more, donors will receive “Mt. Diablo, The Extraordinary Life and Landscapes of a California Treasure,” a fine-art photography book by photographer Stephen Joseph and writer Linda Rimac Colberg. With a $500 donation or more, donors will receive their choice of either both books or one of the popular Mt. Diablo bike jerseys. Donations by check should be made out to MDIA and sent to the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, P.O. Box 346, Walnut Creek, CA 94597. Include shipping address so the gift can be sent. To volunteer or become a member of MDIA, visit or email

comments his blog attracted, passing heads together, see what had been done along real-time news updates and offers right, and what they’d learned for the of assistance. “It started out like any next time fire lights up the sky over Mt. other fire. I’ve covered many other fires Diablo. Of all the lessons learned, however, over the years, and there was nothing to say this one was going to be any differ- Mayor Julie Pierce said the community’s stepping forward was no surprise. ent.” “The level of generosity in this At a friend’s house when the fire started, the “Mayor” made his way closer community never ceases to amaze me,” to the fire, where he continued to receive she said. “They are just consistently the updates on progress, sent by everyone best people you could ever ask for in a from locals manning scanners, residents community. They care about each watching the flames burn towards their other, they take care of each other.” “It really is the exact definition of a homes, and even an occasional firefightcommunity,” Pierce said. “They come er on break from his duties. “l felt like I had an obligation to be through every time.” there for the people who need the information,” he said. At last, after what seemed like an eternity but was just hours after the fire burned ferociously to Morgan Territory, threatening to jump the road in several places, the announcement was made that the fire had been contained. Around 3 a.m., residents began returning home, reversing the earlier sight as they passed fire trucks and equipment rumbling down the street and out of Morgan Territory. EVEN NEWS REPORTERS ON THE SCENE were called on to help. KCRA’s Richard Sharp was manning a gar-

City officials gath- den hose moments before the live broadcast on ered to put their Monday night.

the affected neighboring jurisdiction, could do to assist in the emergency response effort. As we got new information, I relayed it to our community via social media and emails and answered calls from residents and the media. LIBRARY AS HUB Responding to the initial evacuation of the Curry Canyon area off Morgan Territory Road, we opened the Clayton Library meeting room for an Evacuation Center to be staffed by the Red Cross. We took calls from residents and organizations who volunteered lodging for evacuated horses and small animals. We used our contacts with local media to correct initially inaccurate information that was broadcast in the emergency alerts. Our police department and later the Highway Patrol and city maintenance personnel manned the road closure barri-

cades at Marsh Creek Road/Regency Drive. The initial incident command center was at our local Fire Station 11 before being consolidated to Camp Parks in Dublin to fight the fire, which was kept mostly on the southern and eastern flanks of the mountain. Area residents showed their gratitude to the firefighters by inundating them with spontaneously donated food and water. Our Clayton CERT teams assisted at the command center and were deployed at various locations to help. There were a few hiccups, quickly corrected, which will help us train for the future. As the fire progressed it was sometimes frustrating to not be able to get imme-

diate information about the status. CalFire issued somewhat regular reports and held briefings for the media. Since our city was not the primary local agency, we were not always the first to get information. When information flowed, I posted it to Facebook, which proved to be an effective outreach. Local area and former residents around the country were grateful for the latest information. Many thanks to all the wonderful firefighters, emergency first responders, volunteers and city employees who pitched in to put out the fire and safely manage the emergency. As always, you can reach me at Tell me what you think.

For more photos, see page 20

Page 12

Clayton Pioneer •

September 27, 2013

Sports Eagles look to replace Northgate atop league NORTHGATE LED BY

JAY BEDECARRÉ Clayton Pioneer


Clayton Valley was top dog when girls volleyball was introduced as a high school sport in the 1970s as the Eagles won three of the first four North Coast Section championships between 19776 and ’79. Over the past two decades it’s been Northgate who has been the dominant local volleyball team as the Broncos are perennial NCS participants, won a Section title in 1990 and were 2004 and 2005 finalists. Coach Dave Hobson sees his Clayton Valley Charter team stealing some of the thunder from Northgate and challenging for the Diablo Valley Athletic League title. “This year we feel we match up well [with Northgate],” the third-year head coach says. Hobson replaced his wife and CVHS Hall of Fame athlete Lisa Barbieri Hobson, who led the Eagles to the 2010 NCS playoffs in her final year in charge when her team was helped by a freshman hitter Kayla Taylor. Taylor was the first freshman on the Eagles varsity in four years and she hopes to culminate her career with another NCS appearance. She was all-league second team as a sophomore and firstteam last fall. The senior middle blocker is a contender for league MVP after the graduation of Northgate’s Michelle Lawrence, who was the league’s top player in 2011 and ’12. Hobson will be looking for his first NCS team since taking over as head coach with an experi-

Jason Rogers photo

SENIOR KAYLA TAYLOR (15) looks to repeat as an all-league performer for the Clayton Valley Charter High School volleyball team. She overpowers Berean Christian blockers Emily Heisinger (3) and Olivia Zamolo (6) in a recent 3-0 DVAL win for the Eagles. Behind Taylor are, from left, CVCHS libero Jessica Stratton, Megan Sarkissian and setter Sarah Williams.

enced lineup that is balanced among seniors and juniors and exciting sophomore libero Jess Stratton, who was second-team all-DVAL as a freshman in 2012. Taylor’s senior classmates include defensive specialist Ariana Bermudez, opposite Julie Barker and Megan Sarkissian, a defensive specialist. A quartet of juniors got varsity experience a year ago. Middle blocker Hailey Pascoe was honorable mention all-DVAL.

Setter Sarah Williams plus outside hitters Morgan Giacobazzi and Alysha Gasowski are other varsity veterans. New varsity players Nellie Duncan, Ashley Deichler and Brianna Kearney are also joined by freshmen Tori Klock and Erika Scheafer. They hope to fill the void left by departed graduates Megan Elms, Lauren McCarthy and Sydney Runyon. Hobson, a 1984 Clayton Val-

Team DC Clayton volleyball champs

ley grad, is assisted coaching the Eagles volleyball teams by Rich Feldmann, Diana Lauritsen, Streeta Farrell and Teresa Stratton. The second annual Dig Pink benefit game is set for Thursday, Oct. 17 against College Park. The freshman (4 p.m.), junior varsity (5 p.m.) and varsity (6:30 p.m.) games benefit cancer research causes and raising community awareness. Pink-themed foods


Photo courtesy AOSL

The All Out Sports League summer volleyball program ended this month with Team DC taking the championship. The winning team includes, from left, captain Sandra Bohn, Brad Blevins, Kelly Sessions, Ginny Monge and John Jatoft. The Demolition Crew was followed in the final standings by Crush, Club Spike and Cowboys filling out the first four places. The league returns in the spring following the conclusion of CYO basketball in busy Clayton Community Gym.

United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation is holding its largest fundraiser, the fifth annual 5K Run and Walk at Newhall Park in Concord, on Sunday, Oct. 13. Competitive runners begin a 5K run at 9 a.m. while the fun runners and those looking for a nice Sunday walk are encouraged to sign up for the 9:45 Fun Run/Walk start. All proceeds support high school athletic programs at the five Mt. Diablo Unified School District high schools and Clayton Valley Charter. Sponsors are also being sought for the event, which is sponsored in part by Diablo FC. For more information and to register online visit

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will be sold and auction items from local merchants will be offered. The team hopes to exceed the $1000 raised at last year’s game. The girls will each be playing in honor of someone that has been affected by cancer. Hobson encourages Dig Pink donations from the community and local businesses. He can be contacted about Dig Pink at

$1.50 games, Mon.-Thur., 9pm to midnight


Former Clayton Valley High and Cal Berkeley pitcher Matt Gorgen and his Mobile BayBears just missed out on a repeat Southern League baseball championship earlier this month. Gorgen’s Arizona Diamondbacks AA team lost the championship series three games to two to Birmingham. Gorgen was part of the 2012 Southern League champs while his twin brother Scott was winning the Texas League title last year for the St. Louis Cardinals Springfield team. He began this season with the Reno Aces of the AAA Pacific Coast League. Scott Gorgen, a two-time All-American pitcher at UC Irvine who helped the Anteaters reach the 2007 College World

Northgate girls volleyball has racked up impressive numbers in recent years including 30 wins last fall when the team reached the NCS semi-finals before being turned back by powerhouse Maria Carrillo. In fact, the Broncos compiled 102 wins over the past four seasons, leaving new coach and alumnus Stephanie Pecho with a daunting task in taking over the strong program. Pecho’s entire coaching staff is Northgate alums and she told the Contra Costa Times, “We all care greatly about the program. Our interest is doing whatever we can do to keep the program healthy.” While the new coach has an experienced roster she begins her career minus a Northgate legend as she has to replace Lawrence, who is playing collegiate volleyball at Colorado State and had 457 kills a year ago. Senior outside hitter Emma Herman and junior middle blocker Jade Lee are expected to lead the way for the Broncos, who have five seniors on the roster as they look to win another DVAL title. The team’s pre-season record was nothing to shout about but they played a grueling non-league schedule and “We are absolutely capable of taking league this year,” the new coach promised. NCS play begins Nov. 13, a week after the DVAL tournament. Both the Eagles and Broncos expect to be playing well into November.

Series, was released in June by the Cardinals organization. Gorgen missed the entire 2011 season to have arm surgery.


A variety of programs at Clayton Community Gym are taking signups now through All Out Sports League. Winter youth basketball league starting Dec. 28 is now taking signups for players 4-16. Youth hip hop and jazz classes are every Monday for 5-16 year-olds. Blaze AAU basketball and club volleyball tryouts are coming late this year. Registration for 2014 spring basketball academy and tball is open. A free Zumba class is offered Oct. 2. And there will be an adult coed softball tournament Nov. 3. For complete information, visit

See Sports Shorts, page 15

September 27, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 13


Homecoming game readies Eagles for DVAL football title defense JAY BEDECARRÉ Clayton Pioneer

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Shaking off any ill effects from the season-opening loss to De La Salle, Clayton Valley Charter has won two consecutive games and has its offense purring heading into Friday night’s homecoming game against Skyline of Oakland. Kickoff is 7 p.m. The Eagles of coach Tim Murphy have the game against winless Skyline and next Saturday afternoon’s 1:30 clash in Hayward before the team begins defense of its Diablo Valley Athletic League title. The league opener is at College Park on Oct. 11, the first of five consecutive Friday night DVAL games with only two at home in Gonsalves Stadium. Off pre-season results the Eagles have to be considered heavy favorites to repeat as league champs. Northgate has been the most impressive among the other DVAL teams with a 4-0 record including a 49-6 victory over Hayward in its opener. CVCHS will be able to compare itself to the Broncos against that common opponent next week. Last Friday the Broncos won the Battle of the Creek over Las Lomas 31-17 by scoring the final 14 points of the game in the final five minutes after a field goal by the Knights

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They have battled, scratched and clawed their way to show they are the real deal, a team to be reckoned with. Last year was no fluke, and that is the message the Oakland Athletics have sent loud and clear across the baseball world. Last Sunday the A’s reached 30 games over .500 and that day clinched the American League West division title for a second straight season. They left the favored Texas Ranges and Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim in their wake as they won their 16th division championship in Oakland. The A’s have been playing the best baseball of anyone in the Majors and they aren’t about to start slumping right as the season ends; if anything they’ll only get better. The A’s will be one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs, as they currently have every position playing at an elite level.

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MILES HARRISON (3) HAS RACKED UP THREE CONSECUTIVE HUNDRED-YARD RUSHING GAMES for Clayton Valley Charter in the early season. The junior running back gained 176 yards against De La Salle and followed that up with strong efforts in wins over Castlemont and Independence as he attempts to literally and figuratively follow in the footsteps of all-everything back Joe Protheroe, who led the Eagles to their first-ever North Coast Section title a season ago. Teammate Ruben Vega (33) came out of his helmet trying to help on this play as De La Salle defensive back Jevari Anderson (14) makes the tackle.

had tied the score in the fourth quarter at 17. Eric Haynes scored three touchdowns for the winners who rallied from an early 14-3 deficit.

The rest of the schools in the DVAL have struggled in the early part of the season. Following a bye week after the 34-14 loss to De La Salle,

Pitching and power propel A’s to playoffs TYLER LEHMAN SPORTS TALK

Commercial & Residential

One of the most important things to have in the playoffs is pitching, and Oakland has more pitching than they know what to do with. Bartolo Colon is 40 years old, yet he is still pitching at a Cy Young-caliber level, registering a 2.7 earned run average along with 16 wins. He has been absolutely dominant, painting the corner of the strike zone with his nasty fastball, whether it is his two- or four-seamed. Colon has been lights out, but so has Jarrod Parker, a young pitcher who struggled early on in the season, but is now showing his ace potential. Parker currently has a 3.8 ERA with 11 wins, and that ERA keeps going down. Not only are the A’s starters going to excel in the playoffs, they also have a lights-out bullpen. The A’s have arguably the best bullpen in baseball, stacked with hard-throwing pitchers who can overpower you with fastballs and get a key strikeout when needed. The top two relievers in the A’s bullpen are Grant Balfour and Ryan Cook, the closer and set-up man for the A’s. Both of them have been

outstanding this year, Balfour even broke the A’s long-standing record of most consecutive saves. He passed Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley’s record of 40 straight saves, showing how consistent and reliable he is as a closer. Great pitching is just one ingredient in a successful team, but so is hitting. Power has not been a problem for the A’s this year, as Oakland players have been clobbering the ball. Their best power hitter, Brandon Moss, was a platoon player most of this season, and yet he has still been able to hit 27 home-runs as of Sept. 18. A surprise power guy on the A’s has been Coco Crisp, looking to have a 20 home-run and 20 stolen-base season. The A’s have the pitching and they have the powerful offense. All that’s left is for them to perform in the playoffs and bring that World Series Trophy back to Oakland. Tyler Lehman is a sophomore at Diablo Valley College and a 2012 CVHS graduate. He plans to major in journalism and wants to be a sports writer. Email your comments or questions to

Clayton Pioneer wants to hear your sports story We get plenty of information from local high schools, sports leagues and clubs. What we don’t hear about so often are from our neighbors who are competing below that radar screen. There are Claytonians who are participating in sports and recreational endeavors that we don’t normally hear about but we’d like to tell their stories too. If you know of someone —-or even if you are that someone —-let us know what you’re doing and perhaps we’ll find it something our readers would love to read about! If you’re running, jumping, hiking, biking, swimming, skydiving, bowling, golfing or participating in any of dozens of other sports and recreational activities let us know. Give us a brief rundown and your contact information and we might be in touch with you. It’s as simple as sending an email to

which is ranked No. 1 in the state, the Eagles ran all over Castlemont of Oakland 66-6 as seven different players scored touchdowns for the winners. Miles Harrison ran just seven times but gained 100 yards and carried two into the end zone. Zach Dominquez had a touchdown reception and a TD run for two more scores as CVCHS ran up a 480 halftime advantage. Quarterback Gabe Taylor opened the scoring for the Eagles with a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes and ended the first-half onslaught with a scoring run. He ended up completing all four of his passing attempts to four different receivers. The Eagles defense forced a pair of safeties in the second half and Chandler Wakefield recovered a fumble in the end zone for a TD. The game last Friday against the Independence 76ers was the second straight win for the Eagles as they outscored their San Jose hosts 42-7. Harrison carried the ball only five times in San Jose but scored touchdowns on runs of 68, 50 and 39 yards. This time CVCHS was up 35-0 at the half and 42-0 entering the fourth quarter with a running clock. Taylor and Lewis Ramos each had a TD pass on their only throws of the game for the Eagles to Dylan Jue and Abe Ibrahimi, respectively, totaling six yards. Ben Davis scored on a 70-yard fumble recovery.

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Page 14

Clayton Pioneer •

Book Review

Help kids fight their fire fears


THE POCKET PARENT In light of the recent Morgan fire on Mt. Diablo, I thought I’d pass on some reminders for helping children cope with the experience of this particular wildfire – and others to come. While many people rightly feel very fortunate that the massive fire harmed few and did little damage to structures in our community, for some children the experience has been powerful and frightening. A fire like this can significantly affect a child’s sense of security and normalcy. Particularly for children of neighborhoods under evacuation orders, an experience like this will bring up lots of questions that may seem technical (“how many firefighters are up there?” “how do fires start?” etc.), but are hiding the hope that they’ll be reassured they’re safe. Don’t hesitate to reassure a child in circumstances like this, even if it doesn’t seem like that’s what they’re asking for. Remember as always to monitor your child’s exposure to media. Images of burning

September 27, 2013

‘Me Before You’ a life, not love, story

homes or terrified livestock have a very different impact on a child than on you or me. Importantly, the better you’re prepared for an evacuation order (which might be days or just minutes after the fire starts), the more likely you’ll be able to minimize any traumatic aspects for your child. Planning is crucial. Does everyone in your house know what to do? If not everyone is in the house when a fire starts nearby, do they all know where to meet? If your children are playing in the hills, do they know what to do if they see a fire? Ensuring you can answer these questions can make the difference between best-case and worst-case scenarios, and showing your children that you have a plan can be one of the biggest comforts you can provide for them. And know that, depending on how close your child was to the fire, and how traumatic the experience was for him or her, simple things like the smell of smoke months later can trigger fear and anxiety. As with all emergencies, the better the planning, the better the likely results; and the better the communication between you and your child, the better the experience and, if needed, recovery. Pete Caldwell, MS, MFT is the Mental Health Director for We Care Services for Children. He teaches counseling courses at CSUEB in addition to maintaining a private practice.

British novelist Jojo Moyes has written more than a romantic novel with Me Before You (Penguin Books; Reprint edition, July 2013). The story takes place in a small English village whose inhabitants are experiencing the sort of economic and work-related difficulties facing many middle class families. This particular village is a bit singular in that it has an ancient castle which is its economic mainstay as a tourist attraction. Much of the village’s future is wedded to its past, none more so than Moyes’s protagonist, Louise Clark. Louise stands out not because she is spectacular, but because she is so remarkably ordinary. In her mid-20s, she still lives with her parents and helps her family support her older and brainy sister, who



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in London; at the time Mrs. Traynor hires Louise, Will has been living an angry, painful, wheelchair-bound life for two years. Louise, with no real experience, is surprised to get the offer based solely on her previous boss’s recommendation, describing her as “a warm, chatty, and life-enhancing presence,” and further confounded that the job will last only six months. Why the job is to last only six months is a mystery slowly and surreptitiously revealed well into the six months. During that time Will and Louise begin a relationship that the reader roots for, despite its obvious limitations, and which teeter-totters to an unexpected balance and rhythm. Me Before You is not some sappy love story. Everything Louise learns from Will’s privileged world takes its toll on her own life when she leaves the palatial estate and returns nightly to her parents, sister, nephew and aging grandfather. Louise has shared herself honestly with Will. That openness has served them both well.





Louise’s understanding of what makes life worth living is challenged and tested the closer she gets to the end of her job. Moyes’ love story is not lost on the reader. who will grapple with these issues alongside Louise and the Traynor family. Me Before You is a small treasure that will move the thoughtful reader well beyond tears.

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.’

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left for college only to return home pregnant and unmarried. When Louise’s boss of six years sells The Buttered Bun, a diner located at the foot of the castle, she finds herself like so many others, in line at the unemployment center and being offered jobs for which she is illsuited. Things get more desperate when her father admits that his own job may be in jeopardy. It is only then that Louise accepts a job as a care assistant, working for the Traynor family, whose wealth is closely tied to the castle. The job will change her life forever. Will Traynor is a handsome, 30-ish financier who also resides with his parents, but that is about the only thing he has in common with Louise. Will is a quadriplegic, injured while headed for a cab

It’s a recurring question, “How do I do office work on my smartphone or tablet?” Well, in today’s environment, cell phones and tablets have their place as communications devices, but are not really suited to office work. Oh yes, cell phones and tablets play games, look up Internet web pages, keep time, play music, etc., and that’s all good – they are great portable devices. But the real question is, how do you do real work? What if you need to write a

letter or process documents, contracts or review another’s work? Some tablets are real PCs and have the ability to run Microsoft Office, the premier word processing software. A very few phones are able to run a word processor or a spreadsheet. These devices are really not suited for real work because of two very distinct and limiting boundaries. First, there is a size limitation to a tablet or smartphone; physically, they are too small. Imagine using a six-inch keyboard with your thumbs, just how much work could you do? Wouldn’t you rather type normally on a normal keyboard? Certainly some limited typing on these devices is okay for a quick message, reply or answer to a query. But, if writing a 200- or 300-word document you will quickly develop sore thumbs. Another physical limitation is the display. I don’t know about you, but unless I have two wide screen monitors at my side, I just can’t get

much done. Certainly not much work can be done on a six-inch screen. Words, numbers, and images are tiny-tiny. Clear, but incredibly small. Second limitation, there isn’t much software for office work available in the smartphone and tablet market. Unless you have a smartphone running Windows you just can’t get Microsoft Office. All you Apple “fan-boys” take note, no Office. Why yes, Apple has several hundred thousand apps, but none of them are worth the cyberspace they occupy because they don’t do “real work.” How about running mail merge? Forgetaboutit – most of these devices don’t support printers. As Rush might say, “For those in Rio Vista, it don’t print nuth’n.” Oh yes, I hear some of you that one could send the document to a home computer and use the print capability from there. Really? Doesn’t that just prove my point that you need a computer to do real

work? Windows phones and tablets, like those from Nokia and Lenovo, can run real apps like Office. Most of these apps are on the Internet for free or for a small annual maintenance fee like Office 365. Office 365 resides in the cloud, allows five users, and is always available to your phone, tablet, laptop and your PC for $99 dollars per year. Create or modify a document on one device and presto, there it is on another device as soon as you open your app. By the way, it’s the same app across all devices. So, there you have it, if you do real work, get a real device like a PC or laptop because it avoids the major limitations of size and lack of functions that are still challenges for smartphones and tablets. William Claney is an independent tech writer and former owner of Computers USA in the Clayton Station. Email questions or comments to

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September 27, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 15

Keep Fido fresh and frisky with these grooming tips


PET PALS Regular handling of your beloved dog makes grooming less stressful for you both. So next time you go in for a cuddle, try one of these grooming basics: Bath time is a great way to bond with your pooch and make sure your furry friend’s skin is healthy. A healthy dog smells “doggy,” not stinky. But how often does Fido need to be scrubbed? A good rule of thumb is once every three months, or when needed. (Try

not to bathe more than every two weeks.) Brushing maintains your dog’s coat between baths. Smooth, short-coated dogs (like Chihuahuas or Boxers) need brushing once a week. Dogs with double coats and dense fur (like Labs and Shepherds) need brushing several times a week, while dogs with long, luxurious coats (such as Yorkies) need daily brushing to remove tangles and periodic trimming. Pick a brush appropriate for your dog’s coat and be sure to reward them with treats when you’re done.

Smell your dog’s ears so you know what a healthy ear smells like – this is especially important for breeds with floppy ears, as they are more prone to fungal and bacterial infections. Check your dog’s ears frequently, and always follow up with a treat. Gently drying ears with a cotton ball after they have gotten wet is an easy way to keep them healthy and clean. If a dog is constantly licking his paw or you notice it smells different, check for a possible burr or dirt caught between the pads. If the injury is ongoing or

seems substantial, see a veterinarian as soon as possible. If your dog’s nails are clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim. If you are comfortable, trim them every week or two, or as needed. Have your veterinarian or groomer demonstrate the proper way to trim a dog’s nails before your first attempt; if you can’t do it yourself, find a trusted groomer to do it for you. Regular dental care not only helps your dog’s breath, but is a good for their overall health. Puppies should be taught to tolerate having their mouth, teeth

Sedaris and Pico de Gallo are ARF’s Adoption Stars

and gums handled. For adult dogs, follow these tips for first timers: Get your dog used to the idea of having his teeth brushed before attempting the real thing by gently massaging his gums with your finger while his is relaxed. After a few sessions, put a dab of doggy toothpaste on your finger to get him used to the taste. Then introduce the toothbrush, allowing him to lick the toothpaste off the bristles. Finally, lift your dog’s gums to expose the teeth, brushing as long as he will tolerate it. Exercise and grooming go hand-in-hand as two important ways to keep your dog healthy. After every walk, check your dogs for ticks or other debris caught in their coat, and have a towel handy to wipe off muddy or wet paws. Make grooming fun and positive, do not skimp on treats, and soon it will be part of your everyday routine. Elena Bicker is the Executive Director of Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation. She can be reached at (925) 256-1ARF (1273)

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Late signups for boys and girls in second through eighth grades for the St. Bonaventure basketball CYO program are being taken online at For more info call 672-5774.


The San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer are holding their Regional Development School fall session at Boatwright Fields in Concord on Tuesdays through Oct. 29. Girls and boys 5-10 years of age are eligible for the school which brings professional coaching experience and guidance to youth soccer players of all skill levels. Brazilian World Cup and Olympic player Tafa heads the teaching staff. For more information visit the Earthquakes Youth Alliance Partner’s website at

ST. AGNES CYO BASKETBALL ACCEPTING LATE REGISTRATION Players in second through eighth grades can apply for St. Agnes CYO basketball by contacting Clayton resident St. Agnes basketball athletic director Chuck Munden at Boys and girls will only be accepted for teams with vacancies. For more information on the St. Agnes CYO program visit

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Sedaris is a smart, sweet 3year-old pup who may be deaf. He will need a guardian who can commit to learning how to communicate with deaf dogs (for example, teaching hand signals for “Sit,” “Come,” and other important words). Sedaris is active, athletic, and very affectionate, and will be a wonderful companion. The adoption fee for adult dogs is $225 and includes 60 percent off one 7-week dog training session. Pico de Gallo is just five

months old — a sweetie pie who warms up to gentle petting and attention. He also likes to play, and has enjoyed meeting other kitties in the shelter environment. Pico has the cutest crook at the end of his tail. The adoption fee for adult cats is $50; kittens (under 6 months) are $125. Meet your forever friend at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, 2890 Mitchell Drive, Walnut Creek, during adoption hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, 3 to 7 p.m. Thurs-

day and Friday, Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The primary caretaker must be present to adopt. ARF also encourages kids 16 and younger and canine family members (dog adoptions only) to be present during the adoption process. Would you like to be part of the heroic team that saves the lives of rescued dogs and cats? Can you share your talents to connect people and animals? ARF volunteers are making a difference! For more information see our website,, or call 925.256.1ARF.

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Clayton Pioneer •

September 27, 2013


IN CLAYTON Sept. 28, Oct. 12, 19 Farmers’ Market 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturdays. Diablo Street between Main and Center streets, downtown Clayton. Music: Sept. 28, Damond Moodie; Oct. 12, Tony de Grassi; Oct. 19, Kevin Kooyumjian.

Sept. 29 Railroad Day Final event for Clayton Museum’s summer railroad exhibit. Live music by Rail Dust Randy and other special guests. 2 – 4 p.m. 6101 Main St., Clayton. Free.

Oct. 4 - 6 Oktoberfest Sponsored by the Clayton Business and Community Association. Music by The Internationals, biergarten, food, arts and crafts, carnival. 6 – 10 p.m. Friday, carnival only. 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday. Downtown. Free admission.

Oct. 5, 6 Paula’s Secret Garden Art Exhibit Featuring artist Pat Strout and showing her students’ paintings. During Oktoberfest hours. Reception Oct 5 from 4 – 7 p.m. Mazzei Realty, 6160 Center St., C, Clayton. Call Paula Johnstone 381-8810.

First Thursdays Oakhurst Business Network Meets first Thursday of the month for social hour. Hosted hors d’oeuvres, cash bar. 5 – 7 p.m. Oakhurst Country Club, 1001 Peacock Creek Drive, Clayton.

IN CONCORD Tuesdays and Thursdays Farmers’ Market Tuesdays year round, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 24, 4 - 8 p.m. Todos Santos Plaza, downtown Concord.

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

Oct. 5, 6, 12, 19 Tarantula Hikes Learn about the hairy spiders that roam the mountain at this time of year. Then take a walk to see if you can find any. Reservations required. Check the website for more tarantula hikes. Reservations are required and fill up fast.

Oct. 20 Tarantula Time It’s that time of year when male tarantulas are out of their burrow roaming the hillsides looking for female tarantulas. Come learn about the lives of these special creatures from naturalist Michael Marchiano in the Summit Audio Visual Rm. 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Save Mount Diablo programs listed are free unless otherwise noted. Go to and click on Activities/Guided Hikes for more information. 947-3535.

Oct. 6 Mount Diablo Challenge This fun cycling event now offers course options for beginning and seasoned cyclists. Registration/fee required. Go to and click on Mount Diablo Challenge.

EVENTS & ENTERTAINMENT Thru Sept. 28 “Shrek the Musical” Diablo Theatre Company brings the hilarious story of everyone’s favorite ogre to life on stage. Lesher Center, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $49-$53. 943-7469.

Thru Oct. 4 “Without Purchase” A fun, new mystery play by local playwright David Evan Harris performed by Onstage Theatre. Lesher Center, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $10-$23. 943-7469.

Thru Oct. 12 “Ella the Musical” Exhilarating new musical that weaves myth, memory and music to tell the uplifting and poignant story of one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $37-$64. 943-7469.

Thru Oct. 13 “Pygmalion” A brilliantly witty reworking of the classical tale of the sculptor who falls in love with his perfect female statue. Butterfield 8 Theatre at Cue Productions Live, 1835 Colfax St., Concord. $12$20.


Sept. 29 California Symphony

Oct. 26 Dinner and Auction

Cabrera conducts Mozart and Dvorak. 4 p.m. Lesher Center, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $20-$65. 943-7469.

Barbecue dinner, no host cocktails, two-bit auction and dessert raffle sponsored by Soroptimist International of Diablo Vista. Benefits women and girls worldwide through Soroptimist projects. 6 p.m. Back Forty Texas BBQ, 100 Coggins Drive, Pleasant Hill. $50. Contact Jan Townsend for tickets by Oct. 18. 827-1050.

Oct. 6 Sing for Joy Walnut Creek Chorus performs. 3 p.m. Trinity Lutheran Church, 2317 Buena Vista Ave., W.C.. $10-$12.

Oct. 11 – Nov. 10 “Tarzan” “Tarzan” tells the story of an infant boy orphaned on the shores of West Africa and raised by gorillas. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $44-$54. 943-7469.

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

Tuesdays thru Nov. 26 Patty Cakes Story time for babies to 3-year-olds. Child attends with caregiver. 11 a.m.

Wednesdays Book Buddies

Oct. 12 Family Concert The Diablo Symphony presents excerpts from Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and other family-friendly, classical favorites. 2 p.m. Meet the orchestra. 3 p.m. concert. Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Lafayette, 1035 Carol Lane. Free.

Oct. 13 Diablo Symphony Orchestra

A volunteer will read stories for children 3 and older. 1 - 2 p.m. Call in advance.

Thursdays thru Nov. 14 Picture Book Time Story time for 3- to 5-year-olds. Child may attend without caregiver. 11 a.m.

Eric Zivian performs on the piano. 2 p.m. Lesher Center, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $12-$28. 943-7469.

Thru Oct. 24 Library Pumpkin

Oct. 16 – 26 “The Robber Bridegroom”

Come see our big pumpkin and guess its weight. The person with the closest guess without going over wins the pumpkin. Children 12 and under eligible to enter.

The Clayton Theatre Company is proud to present its first production, a rousing, bawdy Southern fairy tale. Preview Oct. 16 – 17. Show Oct. 18 – 26. Endeavor Hall, 6008 Center St., Clayton. $12-$18 at

Oct. 1 – Nov. 7 Clayton Reads

Oct. 17 Broadway Goes to the Movies Join the immensely talented arranger and conductor, Sean O’Loughlin, and Diablo Choral Artists. Presented by California Symphony. 7:30 p.m. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $20-$65. 943-7469.

Featuring “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. Pick up free copy at library while supplies last; return when done. Flier available with related programs and discussions.

Oct. 7 Calligraphy and History

Oct. 17 – 19 “Hansel and Gretel”

Come explore the art and history of the written word, presented by Carylon Van Essen in a two-part program. The first part is a demonstration and talk open to all. The second part is a chance to practice calligraphy. Register for part two at 6:30 p.m.

Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble presents a spellbinding tale. Lesher Center, 1601 Civic Dr., W.C.. $14. 943-7469.

Oct. 14 Clayton Library Book Club Sunny Solomon leads the discussion of “Ragtime” by E.L. Doctorow. Open to anyone who would like to join. 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 The Best Intentions An unforgettable experience of the great Motown acts of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. 8 p.m. El Campanil Theatre, 602 W. Second St., Antioch. $23-$25.

The Concord Library is at 2900 Salvio St. or 646-5455.

Oct. 19 – 20 Campout

Hardcovers $1. Paperbacks $.50. Children’s books $.25-$.50. Fri. 1 – 8 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sun. 1 – 4 p.m. $3/bag.

Camp and gaze at the full moon and Orionid meteor shower. Lake Del Valle. Registration and fee required. East Bay Regional Park District. Call (888) 327-2757, select option 2 and refer to program 3717.

Sept. 28 Computers and Technology

CHURCHES AND RELIGION Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 Contemplative Sessions Join Deacons Eddie Ensley and Robert Herrmann from the Diocese of Savannah to discuss “Experiencing God’s Grace Through Life’s Challenges.” 10 – 11:30 a.m. and 7 – 8:30 p.m. daily. St. Bonaventure Catholic Community, 5562 Clayton Road, Concord. Open to the public. Free will offerings accepted. Call Eileen Limberg at 672-5800, ext. 2217 or

Oct. 4 Baha’i, interaction, fellowship and discussion. Topic: One God, So Many Religions. Speaker: Dr. Vahid Fozdar, associate professor of History at Cal State East Bay. 7:30 p.m. Free. For directions, call 672-6686.


Sept. 27 - 29 Book Sale

If you need help with your mouse, come to our house. Drop-in assistance to learn how to use computers, smart phones and tablets. 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Additional dates and times offered. Check library calendar.

Sept. 30 Bean Craft Let your imagination soar and create a masterpiece with beans. Children 5 – 11. 7 – 8 p.m.

Oct. 5 Snakes Slither on in to learn about local snakes from an East Bay Regional Park Ranger. Children 5 – 11. 1 – 1:45 p.m.

GOVERNMENT 1st and 3rd Tuesdays Clayton City Council

Ongoing Mount Diablo Fire Recovery

7 p.m. Hoyer Hall, Clayton Library, 6125 Clayton Road. 6737304 or

Help the Mount Diablo Interpretative Association and California State Parks restore Mount Diablo from damage caused by the Morgan Fire. Three donation gift levels. See for more information.

2nd and 4th Tuesdays Clayton Planning Commission

Oct. 6 Musical Review Youth Theatre Company students of all ages perform, produced by teens in the company to raise funds for the Monument Crisis Center and Friends of Civic Arts Education Foundation. 5 p.m. Shadelands Art Center, 111 N. Wiget Lane, Walnut Creek. $10. 943-5846.

7 p.m., Hoyer Hall, Clayton Library, 6125 Clayton Road. 6737304 or

1st, 2nd and 4th Tuesdays Concord City Council 6:30 p.m., Council Chamber, Concord Civic Center, 1950 Parkside Dr.

Oct. 13 5K Event Fundraiser for Mount Diablo Unified School District high school sports. Competitive run at 9 a.m. Fun run/walk at 9:45 a.m. Newhall Park, Turtle Creek, Concord. $25 pre-registration; $30 day of event.

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

September 27, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 17

Performing Arts

St. John’s Stage presents

Award-Winning Master Magician

Spooky stage is set for magician Cagigal Award-winning theatrical magician and illusionist Christian Cagigal materializes on St. John’s stage for one performance only in October with his intimate, spooky, “Obscura: A Magic Show.” Cagigal weaves magic, fairy tales and dark fables into an intimate and engaging evening fraught with wonder, mystery and imagination. The Bay Area magician has been regaling diverse audiences with his unique hybrid of theater and “slightly creepy” magic for years at EXIT Theatre in San Francisco and across the country. With “Obscura,” he displays his talents as an upclose and personal magician and entertainer, peppering some of his favorite short stories with witty, eccentric

Julie Michelle

Christian Cagigal

demonstrations. Cagigal is no rabbit-outof-a-hat, saw-the-lady-in-half magician, although he confesses he knows how to make those illusions work. Instead, he works on bending his audience’s minds and leaving them wondering how they got into the twilight zone he creates for them. “Obscura: A Magic Show” is suitable for children – and adults – who can sleep at night even after hearing a good ghost story.

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Fri., Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m. “A sparkling den of stories and’s well worth checking out this most theatrical yet understated of magicians” -Theatre Critic Chloe Veltman

$15 at 925-672-8717 or at the door. Limited seating. St. John’s Episcopal Church, 5555 Clayton Road, Clayton

Cagigal appears at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 5555 Clayton Rd. in Clayton. Tickets are $15 at or by calling 925-672-8717.

Young performers shine for a good cause SALLY HOGARTY Special to the Pioneer

Kids helping kids is the concept behind the Youth Theatre Company’s yearly fundraiser “By the Kids, For the Kids,” taking place next weekend in Walnut Creek. Now in its fifth year, “BTK, FTK” presents an entertaining musical review featuring students from all ages and levels of YTC. It also gives members of Teen Theatre an opportunity to learn additional technical and producing skills.

“Last year, I was the shadow producer,” says 16-year-old Jen Bigoness of Walnut Creek, who has been a YTC member for the past four years. “I basically watched last year’s producers as they choose directors, oversaw production numbers, coordinated the technical aspects of the show, and created marketing and publicity for the event.” This year, Bigoness is one of the producers along with 16year-old Alexis Lampo of Clayton. “We’re really looking forward to working with the teen directors,” says Lampo.

Yashar Art Exhibit ALEXIS LAMPO OF CLAYTON AND JEN BIGONESS OF WALNUT CREEK are the teen producers for this year’s ‘By the Kids, For the Kids’ fundraiser at the Shadelands Art Center.

Although Michael Yashar was trained as an architect, he says he was “born an artist.” The economic realities of struggling through school and raising a family kept him within the safety and security of an architecture practice. But, he says, quoting Paul Simon, art was “the love that always silently waited for me.” The Clayton artist finds in

later life he is painting the world with a new vision. It is no longer the object that is important. “It is color and light that, like musical scores when placed and assembled with an artistic vision, produce an enchanting visual symphony. Michael Yashar’s oil paintings will be on exhibit at the Walnut Creek Library through Oct. 19.

The teen directors, with oversight from Bigoness and Lampo, choose the various song and dance numbers from a variety of musicals. This year’s selection includes “Circulation” from “Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr.,” “When I grow Up” from “Mathilda,” and “Consider Yourself ” from “Oliver!” “Our biggest challenge will be making sure we hit all of the deadlines and make this show run as smoothly as possible,” says Bigoness. Adding support to ensure that the young producers meet that challenge are YTC staff mem-


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bers Rachel Pergamit, Chelsea Bardellini, Kevin Weinert and Brian Pergamit. “We’re basically there to offer advice and our expertise when needed,” says Rachel Pergamit. “But, it’s the kids who make all the decisions and make this event happen.”

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The performance – scheduled for 5 p.m. on Oct. 6 at the Shadelands Art Center – will benefit the Monument Crisis Center and Friends of Civic Arts Education Foundation. Tickets are $10. For more information and tickets, visit or call 925943-5846.

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Clayton Pioneer •

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September 27, 2013

Simple Sedum is a joy to grow


GARDEN GIRL It’s Sedum Season! This hardy family of perennials and evergreens resemble the very popular succulents, yet they’re far more sun-loving and not so picky if occasionally watered too much. Sedums are sensational, and any garden lover interested in growing something easy with unique foliage and attractive flowers should consider one of the sedum family members in your next landscape or container installation. All sedum are deer resistant and drought tolerant. Sedum Autumn Joy is a simple joy to grow. This long-lived perennial sedum is extremely durable. Sedum Autumn Joy grows to two-feet tall and eventually as wide. Sturdy, thick, fleshy stems are a medium green color. The bloom of the Sedum Autumn Joy looks like a large head of broccoli, but rather

than flowing green, the bloom is a dark pink that ages to a deep brick red. When blooming, bees and butterflies are very attractive to the flowers. You will enjoy the flowers on Sedum Autumn Joy from July through October. It is a herbaceous perennial. This means that this plant will grow through spring, flower through summer and rest during winter. Resting during the winter months ensures this perennials frost hardiness. Sedum Vera Jameson is another fabulous selection of sedum. Your Vera Jameson will reach 12-inches tall and two-feet wide. The foliage color of this


Job Market, from page 9 thinking skills, literacy at the collegiate level, collaborative problem-solving and technological skills are key focal points for Clayton Valley Charter High School. Not only have we made it a priority to present frank and honest information to our students about their futures, but

sedum is a bronzy-pink, and the flower clusters are large broccoli heads of deep pink. This plant is stunning, and worthy of any perennial bed where you want some late season color, or a dry creek bed. Plant near a decorative boulder, you won’t have to worry about the reflective heat with any of the selections of sedum. Speaking of red foliage, Sedum Turkish Delight has a deep red- to rose- colored fleshlike foliage. The Turkish Delight is an upright sedum with smaller sized clusters of pink flowers. This sedum is a new introduction, so garden lovers have

more importantly, we offer the guided path to success. At the beginning of this year my administrative team and I made grade-level presentations to the students to talk about the college and career focus. At CVCHS we want every student to get into a post-secondary

educational program but we also want them to leave that program with a degree or certification that will land them a career. Every student at our school has access to a guidance and counseling team that is world class. Every student uses the online program Naviance to perform career aptitude assessments, connect academic goals with career outcomes, and map a

sought it all growing season long. Nestle piles of Turkish Delight Sedum where you have your Maynight Sage or Arctotis Pink Sugar. The summer-fall flowers will make a nice companion to the spring blooming sage and arcototis. The Sedum family has a lot of selections for those garden lovers that are looking for waterwise groundcovers. Sedum Cape Blanco is a California native selection that has small rosetteshaped flesh-like leaves that are a powdery-gray color. During the spring months the Cape Blanco Sedum will have yellow flowers. Sedum Ogon is a lemon-yellow colored sedum with small round leaves. This particular plant can tolerate part sun. Sedum Dragon’s Blood is a sought-after selection with green rosettes of leaves that turn a distinct red in the autumn. Open your eyes and consider installing some of the members of this family in your Clayton Valley landscape, garden or container. It is a perfect plant for our environment, thrives in our heat, sun and needs little water. Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. Contact her with questions or comments at

four year plan of achievement. At CVCHS we won’t allow students to face the future without the tools and support they need to make it a bright one. Our students will be prepared to be first class citizens with a world class education. David Linzey is executive director of CVCHS. Contact him

September 27, 2013

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 19

Hikers, bikers have a roaring good time in Bear Valley SHARON ANDERSON




When I don’t have the time to get to the far eastern side of the Sierras, I make a quick trip to Bear Valley for a variety of outdoor adventures. It is an easy drive on Highway 4, without the traffic associated with many other highways. Bear Valley is beautiful with kayaking, hiking, skiing, fishing, and of course mountain biking on some technical, fun, singletrack trails. I spend my time riding the single track from the gas station at the Bear Valley Lodge. In the shade of trees with the sweet smell of pine, I ride the loop around Lake Alpine with beautiful, peaceful views of the water. Alpine has great fishing for Rainbow Trout. Slickrock trail takes you across country to Uttica Reservoir. Take a dip; you will need to cool off for the climb out on dirt, then pavement, to return to your car. Jelmini Basin is an epic cross country ride that will separate the beginners from the more advanced. Of course you can always hit the pavement with your road bike anywhere, but from Ebbetts Pass the views are awesome looking toward Sonora Pass. A book of the trails is available at the Bear Valley Adventure Company. Some of my favorite hiking trails are the Alpine Lake Loop, Immigrant-Osborn Ridge; Elephant Rock Lake is an eightmile round trip hike from Lake Alpine. Woodchuck basin trailhead, just past Lake Alpine,

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takes you to the Wheeler Lake trail, about seven miles roundtrip. This gives incredible panoramic views from the ridge looking down to Uttica, Union and Spicer and off toward Kit Carson Pass on Highway 88. After I ride, I travel about 30 minutes down Highway 4 to Spicer Road. I have my choice of Uttica, Union or Spicer Reservoir. Now, what I like about these reservoirs is the fact that they look like lakes, not reservoirs. Uttica has no boat launch, and no motorized boats. They are beautiful, secluded and quiet. Uttica and Union are reached by dirt roads. The campgrounds are primitive, and boat-in camping is allowed on some islands. People transport camping equipment in by kayak/canoe to find private spots to be totally alone. I have been at Uttica many times and been the only person on the lake in my kayak. Visit during early spring or during weekdays and


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you will find incredible solitude here. This area is around the 6,800 elevation point. Spicer Road is paved and Spicer has a boat launch. It is the biggest of the three, allowing small motorized boats, with fishing for Eagle Lake Rainbows, Kamloop Trout and German Browns. It has a tendency to be the windiest of the three so I kayak it early in the day to paddle a long distance to check the nests of the Osprey families I have been watching for many years. Did you know that when diving after fish, Ospreys can completely submerge themselves underwater and still be able to fly away with their prey? Most other fish-eating birds of prey can only pluck fish from the surface of the water as they fly by. Kayaks can be rented in Arnold at Sierra Nevada Adventure Company or at Bear Valley Adventure Company.

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Clayton Pioneer •

September 27, 2013

Morgan Fire Photo Gallery


photo Tamara Steiner


photo Joe Carlson


photo Shelley Shuey

photo Joe Carlson

photo David DeMordaunt

Family owned & operated since 1981


Bird Grooming


Sat. Oct. 5

SUNDAY 10 - 11 am

Drop-ins OK

10 am to 3 pm & first Saturday of EVERY month

Competitive prices on dog and cat vaccinations Including rattlesnake vaccines!

Drop-ins OK, but appointments are recommended

Mention this ad to get 5% off your pet supplies with the purchase of any VIP Clinic service!


3 Off /bag

New at Rodie’s

Reg. price $42.99


2 Off


Betta Fish

Blue Buffalo Cat Food

*Mention this ad when you buy a Betta Fish to get $2 off a Marina Betta Aquarium

15 lb. bag Offer expires 10/11/13

Offer expires 10/11/13

Dog Behavior Workshop by Barbara Dwyer Learn how to reduce behavior problems from a certified dog trainer! Call us today to register. Space is limited.

Bring your Best Friend by for a Drink at Oktoberfest October 5th and 6th Rodie's will host a dog water and treat booth! We will also provide tables for you to sit and eat lunch with your dog! Ment ion this ad to receive a $ 5 of on f whe Rodie's Coup n you visi our booth! t


Cost - $25

We offer the Entire Package for your Holiday Party

Our passion is pets.

Veterinary Clinic Oct. 6

photo Tamara Steiner

Nov. 10 10 am - noon

Open 7 days

(925) 672-4600

Mon - Fri 10 to 6 

Sat 9 to 6

Sun 10 to 4

8863 Marsh Creek Rd. in Clayton

YOU’RE INVITED To host your holiday event at

Oakhurst Country Club Did you know you can plan an unbelievable holiday party for about the same cost as hosting it at a hotel or restaurant?

Call now to book your November and December holiday events and choose from the gifts below! (925) 672-9737 ext. 217 Book your event between

August 15 to September 31 and choose 3 FREE ITEMS*

Book your event between

October 1 to October 31 And choose 2 FREE ITEMS*

Book your event between

Holiday Party CALCULATOR

Visit our interactive Holiday Party Calculator to build your Holiday Event & see how affordable it is at

November 1 to November 15 And choose 1 FREE ITEM* SELECT FROM

Book Early and Save! Contact our Private Event Director Janan Ali at 925.672.9737 ext. 217 for more information and to book your event.

Oakhurst Country Club 1001 Peacock Creek Drive, Clayton, CA

FREE Additional Hour FREE Room Rental FREE Dessert Buffet FREE Coffee, Tea & Soda FREE Hors d’oeuvres Limit (2) *Minimums and restrictions apply. Cannot be combined with any other offer and on any previously booked events. Events must occur between November 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013.

Sept 27 clayton pioneer 2013  
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