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December 2012 Do You Have an Old Bike Needing a New Home? Holidays in Over ten years ago parishioners at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Danville the Valley found that Adopt a Family holiday wish lists from Monument Crisis Center clients often included a request for bikes as a means of transportation. Out of those simple requests the Adopt a Family Bikes group was born. For a couple years used bikes were donated and tires repaired by a woman who spent time during her teens working in a bike shop. Later, David Struck, a father from John Baldwin Elementary school responded to a school flyer and offered up a couple bikes. When he reached Tania H. De Young the Adopt a Family Coordinator at St. Timothy’s he asked a simple question that catapulted the program to the next level. “Who fixes the bikes when you get them?” he asked. The Adopt a Family Bikes program kept growing when David stepped in and spent countless hours cleaning, repairing, and safety checking donated bikes. Over the years the program has expanded to include a dedicated core of volunteers and expanded bike drives. The group runs under the non-profit umbrella of St. Timothy’s Church, but space constraints of the original facility have forced them to

Serving Alamo and Diablo

By Jody Morgan

Holiday happenings at both Forest Home Farms Historic Park (FHF) in San Ramon and the Museum of the San Ramon Valley (the Museum) in Danville showcase the Valley’s historical traditions with displays and activities geared to delighting 21st century visitors of all ages. Travel back in time to a Alice Reynolds is happy to share her Winnie the Pooh collection. Victorian family parlor authentically decorated for the season, or step into a 1950s ranch kitchen stocked with kitchenware used in the Valley. Volunteers at each venue have carefully planned the connections between present and past to ensure a fun-filled journey for the entire family. Holidays on the Farm offers free admission to activities and entertainment as well as modestly priced tours from 10am to 2pm on Saturday,

See Holidays continued on page 21

Alamo Tree Lighting Festival Mark Your Calendars for Sunday, December 2nd relocate several times over the years to accommodate their temporary workshop. The effort has grown to become a community program with the support of individuals, businesses, schools, scouts, and other philanthropic organizations and operates during the holiday season. The group collects donated used bikes from the community, gets volunteers together to clean and repair the bikes, and then donates them in mid-December. Last year, of the 358 bikes distributed, 185 bikes went to children in the Richmond schools that were identified by their teachers as unlikely to receive any gifts during the holiday season. The holiday bike repair shop will be set up at their new location in the old Blockbuster Video space at 180 Alamo Plaza, Alamo. This year the bikes will be delivered to the following non-profit agencies: Contra Costa Interfaith Housing, Foster a Dream, Fresh Start, Monument Crisis Center, Options Recovery Services, West Contra Costa Unified School District, Salvation Army, and San Francisco State University Guardian Scholars Program. Bikes of all sizes are needed – ranging from small tyke-bikes for young children learning how to ride, to bikes for kids, teenagers, and adults who need transportation to get to school or work. In addition, spare bike parts, intact helmets, and working locks are gratefully accepted. See Bikes continued on page 28

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The Alamo Chamber of Commerce will present the annual Alamo Tree Lighting Festival at 4:30pm, Sunday, December 2nd. The festival signals the beginning of the Christmas holiday season for families with an evening of caroling, entertainment, beverages, and crafts. Supervisor, Candace Anderson will open the program, and students from local schools will be performing holiday songs sure to get us all in the spirit! This year, Santa will arrive at 4:45PM so all kids will have a chance to share their Christmas wishes and have a picture taken. You will be able to download a photo from his website for FREE or order professional prints from him. Fun arts and crafts stations will be available from New Life Church in Alamo and San Ramon. Other organizations will also present. Beverages will be provided by local civic groups

See Tree continued on page 27

Volume XII - Number 12 3000F Danville Blvd. #117, Alamo, CA 94507 Telephone (925) 405-NEWS, 405-6397 Fax (925) 406-0547 Alisa Corstorphine ~ Publisher Sharon Burke ~ Writer The opinions expressed herein belong to the writers, and do not necessarily reflect that of Alamo Today. Alamo Today is not responsible for the content of any of the advertising herein, nor does publication imply endorsement.

Page 2 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

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Boulevard View By Alisa Corstorphine, Editor It’s the holidays again, and our calendars are filling up. There are shopping plans and gift lists to be made. While at a store the other day I heard kids pestering their parents for the latest and greatest “i” devices and fad clothing. If you’re like one of my kids, you’re hoping for a new pair of comfy, classic fur-lined slippers, which my son calls “walking on foxes (because they’re so soft!).” As I sift through ads looking for gifts to buy, I can’t help but wonder which things will stand the test of time. What is going to be something that is used again and again, and what’s going to sit on a shelf? Which items will actually be more exciting than playing with the box it came in? I looked at my smartphone and counted all the apps I’ve loaded over the last few years. How many of these apps do I use regularly, and how many were just a fad at the time? Which game consoles and video games that kids clamored for over the last 10 years are actually played anymore? Isn’t it interesting that first-person-shooter games come and go, but classics like Pacman, Frogger, Asteroids, Pong, Gallaga, and Super Mario Brothers seem to be the games that endure? I’m not at all surprised that the ones that were the must-have’s of a few years ago such as Halo, Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Doom (hmmm, I sense a theme here) all sit in the drawer most likely never to be touched again. Unlike a classic game, I doubt anyone will ever bring one of these temporarily popular games back for people to play 25 years from now, but I’ll bet we’ll still see Pacman and Asteroids being played in bars! If you are looking for a gift for a child, think back to your fondest childhood holiday memories and what made the gifts special for you. There’s an automatic fascination for all things electronic, but my opinion is that none of them have the staying power of things like Legos, a Slinky, Jenga blocks, Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars, or simple art supplies like a 64-box of crayons or some felt pens. My husband warmly remembers opening his box of 64 crayons each Christmas day and the excitement of seeing their finely sharpened tips all lined up in a row, and I’ll bet he’s not alone. Gifts like these are truly timeless, even for adults. So much of what’s offered these days is over-marketed plastic junk that’s

tied into the latest over-marketed movie for kids, and it quickly ends up in the landfill. I fondly remember toys such as a shiny new bike, roller skates, a skateboard, balls, a Wham-O Frisbee, a Duncan yo-yo, and hula hoops - interestingly these are all outdoor toys that got us moving around outside and playing with friends. Stockings were sometimes filled with jumbo-sized colored chalk to use outdoors, a Rubik’s cube, a LifeSavers Sweet Storybook, and, as traditional in our family, an avocado. If you are looking for other classics a good board game is timeless. Backgammon, chess, checkers, and decks of cards have existed for thousands of years. Since 1949 Candyland has enchanted young kids, Monopoly has lasted over 75 years, and the game of Scrabble has been around over 60 years. Why do these classics stay popular? I think it’s because they combine the right amount of luck with skill, and they keep us thinking. There are many books that are classics, that also make great gifts. Of course there is the Bible, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Gone with the Wind, Atlas Shrugged, Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, Charlotte’s Web, A Christmas Carol, Alice in Wonderland, Little Women, Treasure Island, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Chronicles of Narnia, Winnie the Pooh, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Good Night Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and the entire Dr. Seuss collection to name just a few of many. And don’t forget about the entire Harry Potter collection, which I know many adults enjoy just as much as their kids. Trendy things are not meant to last, and they represent a phase that society goes through that people want to be a part of. After a trend passes, one may ask, “What were we thinking?!” We’ve probably all had those cringing moments while sorting through old family photos and looking at crazy hairstyles or fashion faux-pas. However, a little black dress, a string of beautiful pearls, a pair of crisp blue-jeans, a white button down shirt, a snappy tie, a comfy sweatshirt, a classic peacoat, or a pair of sturdy cowboy boots are timeless and will always look great - and they make for great gifts! Hopefully this has given you a few ideas and caused you to think back to the little, enduring things that made your holidays so special growing up. I hope this helps you bring that magic forward for all to share, and I wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 3


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PENDING 21 Parlington Court

Celebrate the Joy of Remembrance at the 26th Annual Hospice of the East Bay Tree of Lights

Holiday Dinners $30 per person menu Ham & Spinach-Stuffed Pasta Shells Fresh-baked breads Hot vegetable Specialty Salad Delectable Dessert

$32 per person menu Poached Salmon with Mango Chutney Fresh-baked breads Hot vegetable Specialty Salad Delectable Dessert


$34 per person menu Beef Wellington Garlic mashed potatoes Fresh-baked breads Hot vegetable Specialty Salad Delectable Dessert

ring your office staff, organization, or team to Westminster Retreat this Holiday season for a special celebration.

T For Reservations & Tour 925-837-4481 WESTMINSTER RETREAT 512 Hemme Avenue, Alamo, CA 925.837.4481 United Camps, Conferences & Retreats 800.678.5102

he Manor is beautifully decorated for the season and special menu items are available. Non-alcoholic beverages are included.

November 23-December 20, 2012 Minimum of 15 guests

Contact Site Director Viki Spain for a tour and planning meeting at (925) 837-4481 Award-winning author and speaker, Viki Kappel Spain, M.Ed., is the new Site Director at Westminster Retreat on Hemme Avenue in Alamo, a conference and retreat center managed by United Camps, Conferences and Retreats.

Hospice of the East Bay invites the public to participate in its 26th Annual Tree of Lights ceremonies to be held throughout Contra Costa County. Each light on every tree is symbolic of a life and will shine in honor or memory of a beloved friend or family member. Please join any of the commemorative ceremonies to enjoy music, poetry, remembrances by family members and friends of Hospice, and the special moment when the tree lights up. • Alamo Tree ~ Wednesday, December 12th, 12:15PM, Alamo Women’s Club, 1401 Danville Boulevard, Alamo • Danville/San Ramon Tree ~ Friday, December 14th, 5:30PM, reception follows, Town Meeting Hall, 201 Front Street, Danville Lights can be dedicated for a minimum gift of $25. Donors of $100 or more have the option of having their name listed in the tree lighting program. Taxdeductible tree sponsorships range from $250 to $10,000. Proceeds from Tree of Lights ceremonies benefit our communities and the patients and families in the care of Hospice of the East Bay. Established in 1977, Hospice of the East Bay is a not-for-profit agency that helps people cope with end of life by providing medical, emotional, spiritual, and practical support for patients and families, regardless of their ability to pay. For light purchases, donations, sponsorships, and event questions call (925) 8875678 or visit

Delta Nu Psi Holiday Collection Happy Holidays to all! We have reached a milestone and have now sent 1,000 boxes of “gourmet junk food” weighing over 25,000 pounds to our service people in the War Zone. Our next collections will be held December 7th at CVS in Alamo and December 14th at Lunardi’s in Danville. We will be in front of the stores from 11am to 2pm on both days. Please come shop for our service men and women.

Page 4 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

Youth Theatre Company Presents Sleeping Beauty Come see Civic Arts Education’s Youth Theatre Company Kids performing Sleeping Beauty Jr. at 7PM on December 6, 7, and 10 at the Shadelands Auditorium located at 1111 N. Wiget Lane in Walnut Creek. It’s princess Aurora’s sixteenth birthday, and Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather must use their fairy magic to save her from the spell of evil sorceress Maleficent. This classic fairytale told Disney-style features a large chorus, from King Stefan and Queen Stefanie’s Loyal Subjects to Maleficent’s slimy goons, giving members of Kids Theatre plenty of fun characters to portray. Songs from the beloved film, including “Once Upon a Dream,” accompany fun new songs like “Maleficent!” and “A Little Magic Now” to bring a fresh telling of the story to a new generation of kids and families. Tickets to Sleeping Beauty Jr. are $10 and can be purchased at the door or by calling 943-5946.

AAUW Holiday Home Tour

Wind ‘n Sea Sailing Club

The Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek AAUW group will hold their 8th Annual Holiday Home Tour on December 7th and 8th from 10am - 4pm. Six decorated homes in Danville, Walnut Creek, and Alamo will be included in the tour. Tickets costing $30-$35 can be purchased at the East Bay Flower Company located at 206 Sycamore Valley Rd. West in the Danville Livery. AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek AAUW offers scholarships and supports women for personal and professional growth, community leadership, and friendship. AAUW membership is open to all graduates of accredited four-year colleges or universities and those holding an Associate Degree or equivalent. Prospective members can contact Tena at (925) 837-0826 or For more information, visit

The non-profit Wind ‘n Sea Sailing Club is holding sailing classes at member's homes in Danville. The next class,“General Sailing Skills, Knots, and Terminology,” will be held Wednesday, December 12th at 7PM. Contact Jan at 925-837-3381 for information.

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy Marking the 71st anniversary on December 7th, the Town of Danville will be presenting a very unique Buzz Session at the Danville Senior Center, located at 115 E. Prospect Avenue, in honor of those who lost their life during the surprise attack of Pearl Harbor. Wayne Korsien, a 22-year honorary member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors’ Association and current chairman of the Pearl Harbor Ceremony, will discuss the attack and why the country’s leaders were caught off guard. Visit or call (925) 314-3400 for more information.

the Bringing an extensive selection of kitchen gadgets, cookware, & tabletop items to Alamo. Featuring: Le Creuset | Emile Henry | Cuisinart Lodge | Kitchen Aide | Bodum | Pillivuyt and more...

Alamo-Danville Newcomers Club Please join members of the Alamo-Danville Newcomers Club at a free Welcome Coffee on Thursday, December 6th from10AM to noon to learn about the Club. For further information call (925) 281-1307.

Blackhawk Republican Women Federated The Annual Christmas Luncheon for Blackhawk Republican Women Federated will be held Friday, December 14th. The new officers for 2013 will be installed by Roseann Slonsky Brult. Marines with the Toys for Tots program will be in attendance, so please bring a gift for a child (unwrapped). The event will take place at the Blackhawk Country Club, located at 599 Blackhawk Club Dr. in Danville. Check–in will be at 11:30AM, and the fee is $25 per person. Reservations can be made with Marianne Lyons by emailing rylons1009@ or calling (925)820-6452. For further information regarding activities of the club or to obtain membership information, visit our website



Ace is the place for all of your hardware, garden, holiday, gift, and KITCHEN needs. Shop local! Easy parking, old-fashioned customer service.

3211 Danville Blvd, Alamo 925.837.2420 Monday ~ Friday 6am - 8pm Saturday 7am - 8pm Sunday 8am - 7pm Come visit our Holiday Village with a large selection of interior and exterior decorating items. Our staff are here to help you find the perfect tree for your home.

Quality, upscale, and unique items. Gift wrapping and corporate gifts. Something for every taste and budget.

Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 5

Alamo ~ Fabulous 1 level creek side estate in oak studded park-like setting. Almost 1 acre w/1000 sf guest house, pool & Koi pond. Home is approx 2973 s.f. & exquisitely remodeled throughout. $1,575,000

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Alamo ~ Gorgeous “Artful Living Tour� Home, 6 bed, 5.5 baths, .85 acre Alamo Estate on knoll with Views. This new construction, move-in ready, is 5400 sf of European elegance and beauty. New Price: $2,288,000 Michael S. Hatfield


Alamo ~ Pending with 3 Offers! Wonderful remodeled 4Bdrm, 3Bath single story, 2800+ sf home with separate den plus office. Kitchen open to family room with cozy fireplace. Private backyard with pool & spa. Walk to 12 years of top ranked schools. Gretchen Bryce


Alamo ~ Gorgeous, private-gated, Westside Alamo. 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath, 4000 s.f. home on 1.27 acres. Featuring an Italian-style gourmet kitchen, wine cellar, cul-de-sac and fantastic Alamo Schools. Potential Short Sale. $1,349,000 Michael S. Hatfield


Page 6 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

Alamo Women’s Club The Alamo Women’s Club was established in 1916 and is the longest standing service organization in the valley. The organization welcomes members from the Alamo, Danville, and Walnut Creek areas. The current focus of the nearly 100 strong women is Current Events and Health, Children, Family, and Women’s Issues. We are proud of the difference we make in the lives of others through our many outreach and philanthropic programs. Our scholarship program is available to area high school seniors who are focusing on the arts and women at DVC. Among the currently supported philanthropies are Hospice of the East Bay, including Alamo’s Bruns House and George Mark Children’s House , Knit for the Kids, Canine Companions for Independence, Youth Homes, STAND! for Families Free of Violence, and Vestia.

December December 5th - A fun day out is planned by our dynamic Adventure Chairs. We will be going to the beautifully decorated Dunsmuir House in STAND! Berkeley and then to a no-host lunch at the Claremont Hotel. December 12th - Annual Hospice Tree Lighting - The community of Alamo is invited to join us for the lighting of the Hospice tree, which signifies the celebration of many of our friends and family who have been helped by the Hospice Program. The day includes a

potluck luncheon and bake sale benefiting Hospice and wonderful piano music by Frank Holmes and a performance by “On Q,” a small group from the Oakland/East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus. Our clubhouse will be decorated for the holidays, and we invite the community to celebrate the joy of the season. If you would like to join us, please call the number listed below with your name and how many will be attending.

January January 23rd - Mick La Salle, San Francisco Chronicle film critic, will be our guest speaker to kick off the run up to the Oscars! Mick is a film critic for the Chronicle and author of The Complicated Women: Sex and Power in the Pre-Code Hollywood. His history and critical study of French actresses, The Beauty of the Real, was recently published. January through the Oscar Awards: Tuesday evenings until the night of the Oscars we will be going to a nominated movie. It will be a fun time out with the Club.

February On February 27th our speaker will be Vietnam veteran, Marv Tuttle. Marv was involved in a car accident in 1998 and sustained a spinal cord injury, which resulted in paralysis from the waist down. He studied and became a peer mentor for new spinal cord patients, both civilian and military. For the past 10 years he has been both a diver and guide at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where he started a non-profit organization that teaches scuba to special needs children. In November 2010 he was blessed with his dog Yara from Canine Companions for Independence, one of the non-profit organizations supported by the Alamo Women’s Club. He will be speaking about his story and the many ways that Yara helps him, including his work with special needs children. His website is Every Wednesday at 8am we have an exercise/stretching class at the club. Non-members are welcome. The fee is $7.50 per class. If you’re interested in renting our building, wish additional information about upcoming events, or would like to become a member, please visit www.AlamoWomensClub. org, call (925) 575-7706, or email


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Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 7

The Blackhawk Chorus presents Ring in the Holidays In its 22nd year of performance, the 140-member, mixed-voice The Blackhawk Chorus is presenting Ring In The Holidays, a concert of stellar holiday music for the whole family this season. The Chorus will offer a program with something for everyone in the family. It will include a stunning Morton Lauridsen composition based on a James Agee poem called Sure On This Shining Night, compelling new arrangements of traditional favorites like Here We Come A-Wassailing, God Rest You Merry Gentlemen and Silent Night and a lovely December’s Keep based on Chopin’s Prelude in C Minor. The Blackhawk Chorus is delighted once again to be accompanied by the Golden Gate String Quartet in these concerts. This quartet includes accomplished musicians from major regional orchestras. The Blackhawk Chorus’ Assistant Director Randall Benway will accompany the Chorus on the piano. The Blackhawk Chorus under founding director Diane Gilfether will present its concert for all ages at 7pm, Saturday, December 8th, at the Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center located at 10550 Albion Road in San Ramon. The Blackhawk Chorus will also perform at Temple Hill in Oakland on Sunday, December 9th. “We are singing better than we ever have,” says Diane Gilfether, founding director of The Blackhawk Chorus. “Singing with all of the music memorized greatly improves performance and adds to a wonderful experience for our audience. We’ve added strong new voices to our existing base of excellent singers. This new Blackhawk Chorus concert program provides an excellent way to start the holiday season – and tickets usually sell out quickly. Tickets for the Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center concert are $25 for adults and $17 for children 15 and under. Call 925-973-3343 to order tickets or visit www. to order online. The Blackhawk Chorus began in 1991 with 12 women whose dedication to and fondness for music was exemplary. Under the direction of former opera star and voice coach Diane Gilfether, word spread of the success of the group and in the following year, men were invited to participate. Now the 140-strong chorus performs regularly in the East San Francisco Bay Area. The Blackhawk Chorus just completed a successful tour of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland in May/ June of 2012, performing at the Banqueting House in London, in Wales and at both Waterford Cathedral and Cork City Hall in Ireland. For more information about the chorus visit

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Voices of Musica Sacra Voices of Musica Sacra sings the Glory of Christmas, featuring Rutter’s Gloria and other carols and songs of the season with organ, brass, and percussion. A carol sing-along will also take place. Shows will be held Friday, December 14th at 8pm, at Walnut Creek United Methodist Church located at 1543 Sunnyvale Ave. in Walnut Creek, and Sunday, December 16th at 2pm at St. Stephen Catholic Church, located at 1101 Keaveny Ct., Walnut Creek Tickets are $20 adults, $15 seniors 60+, $10 students, and children 5-12 are free. See for details and ticket purchase information.

Contra Costa Wind Symphony The Contra Costa Wind Symphony presents a four-sister harp ensemble, “The Four Graces.” Join the Symphony in celebrating the holiday season in a free concert of music designed to warm hearts with familiar carols, rollicking Christmas favorites, and selections from Rachmaninoff’s Vespers on December 17th at 7:30pm at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church located at 1801 Lacassie Avenue, in Walnut Creek. For more information visit

Clarinet Fusion 5 generations of family pride and tradition goes into everything we do!

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Clarinet Fusion, performing as a clarinet choir under the baton of Dr. Lawrence Anderson, presents “A Clarinet Christmas,” Sunday, December 2nd at 11am at the Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville. Come see and hear a unique ensemble of seven different instruments of the clarinet family, from the tiny Sopranino Clarinet in Ab (a.k.a. Piccolo Clarinet) to the largest Contrabass Clarinet in BBb. The concert will feature a variety of tunes, including Carol of the Bells, Hallelujah Chorus, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Sleigh Ride, selections from The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and more. The concert is free with paid admission to the Museum. Come early to enjoy the wonderful exhibits as well as the current “International Automotive Treasures” exhibition. The museum is located at 3700 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville and will be open 10am to 5pm. For more information about Clarinet Fusion, contact Karyn Weber at (925) 372-8847 or

Page 8 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

Alamo Elementary School Rolling Up Our Sleeves By Stan Hitomi, Principal As we head into the Holiday Season, we at Alamo School can reflect back on what a productive year it has been! This fall we had many opportunities to roll up our collective sleeves and work toward a common good for both our school and the community. The roots of the year can be traced back to last spring when most of the planning for the next year begins. Three years of work toward improving pedestrian safety culminated in the installation of a new pedestrian activated flasher system. Activation of the new crossing system coincided with the dedication of our new Teaching Garden during our “Day on the Green” that invited the entire Alamo community to join in a celebration around healthy mind, body, and planet. Our work on the Teaching Garden will continue throughout the year, and we invite the entire community to join in our “Keep Our Garden Growing” project (see details below). October’s annual “Primo’s Run for Education” was an opportunity for staff, students, and parents to work toward a common goal. Little did we know how important this ability would be later in the year. We did not have wait long for the next opportunity to bring the community together as November brought forth the General Election, with high stakes ballot measures for education at both the State and local levels. Leading the way were Margie Hart (Measure D co-chair) and Raylinn Bianchi (PTA President). We all breathed a collective “sigh of relief” following the elections. In the end, proposition 30 and Measure D had both passed. We were saved from millions of dollars in cuts from the State, and gained locally-controlled funds to improve facilities in our district. We are thankful for the many hours of volunteer time our teachers and parents contributed at phone banks, precinct walks and get-out-the-vote efforts. In addition to the many community efforts this year, I would also like to recognize some outstanding individual accomplishments. Nevyta Cednia (4th grade) was the winner of our annual PTA Directory Cover Art Contest. Her artwork graces the cover of our 2012-2013 school directory, along with works from Anders Baugh, Janelynne Galera, Keara Hedican and Emily Oh that are also featured in the directory. Sculptures by Connor Merideth (Thinking, Helping, and Doing), Anatasia Uhland (Star Bright, Star Night) and Isaac Lim (Pondering) were selected for display at the “Who Am I ?” exhibit at the Danville Art Gallery. The theme for this year’s PTA Reflections program was “The Magic of a Moment.” First place finishers and runners-up will move on to the council level of competition, where they will be judged against pieces from other schools. Our first place winners are Madison Sui with her Fireworks Booming piece in the Primary Visual Arts category, The Amazing Light piece by Aidan Morgan in the Intermediate Photography category as well as her The Secret of Water: Water Moments piece in the Film Production category. First runners up are Magdalena Heil with her piece titled Curtain Call in the Primary Visual Arts category and Ginny Herron with her piece in the Intermediate Photography category. Congratulations to all of our artists!

Keep Our Garden Growing! With your votes, Alamo Elementary School can win $50,000. To help finish Alamo School’s teaching garden, the school was nominated to win a $50,000 grant from Clorox called “Power a Bright Future.” The school with the most votes will win the prize money. Voting will be held through December 19th. How can you help? Vote! You can text message 2653pbf to 95248, or vote online at Everyone can vote online AND text once a day. Please share the link and text number with your friends and family. With your votes, we can keep the garden growing at Alamo School!

Upcoming Meetings and Events AIA - Alamo Improvement Association - December 18th , 7pm - Creekside Community Church -1350 Danville Blvd. Alamo MAC (Municipal Advisory Committee) - First Tuesday of each month 6pm - Alamo Chamber of Commerce Office 120-B, Alamo Plaza P2B - Police Services Advisory Committee - First Monday of each month, 5pm - Meets at Alamo Chamber of Commerce Office located at 120 -B, Alamo Plaza P5 - Round Hill Police Services Advisory Committee - Second Wednesday of each month, 7pm - Meets at Round Hill Country Club - Lower Level Meeting Room CERT classes - Community Emergency Response Team - Visit www.

Ring in the Holidays!

with The Blackhawk Chorus The East Bay’s Best Holiday Music for the Entire Family

Saturday, December 8th, 7PM Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center 10550 Albion Rd, San Ramon For tickets, $25 for adults, $17 for ages 15 and under, call 925-973-3343 or visit

Rancho Romero Elementary School By Skye Larsh-Faraghan, Principal The Rancho Romero staff joins me in wishing our friends and families in the community the very best this holiday season. December is a time for reflecting on the year, where we started in August and how much growth has been made in the past 61 days of school. It is also during this time that we clarify and secure our school wide goals, monitor progress, and make necessary adjustments moving forward into the new year. As we prepare to transition into the next phase of the school year, I was reminded by one of our School Site Council members recently how important it is to stay focused on building strong school communities - connecting students to school for reasons of commitment rather than compliance. Interestingly, advocates in the public and private sector, claim that making school communities more caring places will increase the nation’s economic competitiveness. This certainly aligns well with our teaching of 21st Century Skills and the move to Common Core Standards. We know that one way to build community is by helping others and connecting the act of service to our hearts. When an emotional connection to learning takes place, it sticks. During this first trimester of school we have concentrated on the character traits of respect, empathy, and caring. Students at Rancho have taken part in a variety of classroom and school wide projects that support their understanding and skill of these concepts. Projects have included Coins For a Cure – Children’s Cancer Foundation, clothing drives, treats for our troops, canned food drives, donations of needed supplies to Coronado Elementary School in Richmond, and multiple leadership responsibilities in school. These opportunities instill responsibility, build character and citizenship, and foster discovery of the special joys of doing or giving something special. Rancho Romero is never one to rest on its laurels. We know we have important and critical work ahead. And, in this season of caring and giving, we also know that taking time to appreciate everyone who contributes to making a positive difference in our children’s education must be a regular part of the process. I offer my deepest gratitude and appreciation to our teachers and all staff, inside and outside of the classroom, along with our School Site Council, PTA, and Rancho Romero Education Fund Board for making the first part of the 2012-13 school year so successful.

Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 9










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Stone Valley Middle School By Shaun K. McElroy, Principal 2013 California Distinguished School Nominations Announced Stone Valley was one of just a few middle schools in Contra Costa County to receive the California Distinguished School Nomination. Seven of the eight SRVUSD middle schools received the nod while only four schools outside of SRVUSD received a nomination. Dougherty Valley HS was the lone high school Nominee from San Ramon. This is Stone Valley’s 7th nomination. We are truly proud to be amongst this year’s nominees.

Leadership Classes Have Busy Fall Candy drive for the Troops – Students collected candy for three days after Halloween and donated 300 pounds of candy to Pledge to Humanity and Blue Star Moms. The groups will package and ship the candy to our troops serving overseas. Here’s the class by class breakdown: 8th grade 93 pounds, 7th grade 111 pounds, 6th grade 96 pounds. Coronado Elementary in Richmond – Leadership students spent the day at our sister school working in classrooms and delivering lessons they had prepared the week prior to the visit.

Breakfast Fundraiser The week before Thanksgiving recess our leadership students sold breakfast food items to SV students before the start of the school day. All proceeds were sent to the Red Cross and targeted for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Common Core State Standards Last month I wrote about the changes we could expect from the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Our teachers are using two of our early release Wednesdays each month to prepare for the change in instructional methodology. We are focusing on Depth of Knowledge (DOK) activities. DOK activities are rated on a 1-4 scale based on the complexity of the task. The higher the DOK level, the greater the student engagement and


involvement. This type of instructions prepares students for real world work situations. To accommodate the new style of instruction, we have formed a Block Scheduling Committee. We are exploring a change in schedule for the fall for 2013. If you are interested in participating in our scheduling discussion, RSVP to

Smarter Balanced Assessment CCSS brings about a new testing protocol that is dramatically different from the STAR test. Beginning in the spring of 2015, students will be taking the Smarter Balance Assessment. The link I’ve provided will take you to some sample exams that I think you will find exciting -

Parent Education - Raising Boys to be Men of Character Thanks to Mark Wollan from Community Presbyterian Church for providing our parents with another excellent workshop that helps to build our skills as parents. Mark helped us prepare an individual step-by-step plan of how we can enhance the way we are raising our sons. The two most important aspects of the workshop were creating a definition of manhood and a code of conduct. We used these aspects to create a customized plan for our sons. Here’s what we came up with: A real man rejects passivity, accepts responsibility, leads courageously and expects a greater reward. This is a code of conduct based on three to four values that we adhere to and can model for our boys. As added insurance, Mark asked us to select a person to check-in with in a week to insure that we are following through with the plan.

Stay Tuned for More Parent Education Opportunities Our 10th annual “Dads Night Out” is scheduled for January 24, 2013.

Measure D and Proposition 30 Thank you for your votes on Measure D and Proposition 30. The success of Measure D will help to build a new Stone Valley from the ground up. Stone Valley opened the doors in 1950, and not much has changed since that time. We are well overdue for an “Extreme School Makeover.” The passage of Propositions 30 will help us dodge the draconian cuts that were to be set in motion in Governors December budget revisions.

Page 10 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

San Ramon Valley High School By Ruth Steele, Principal Fall/winter has finally arrived, and for most schools, Thanksgiving break brings welcome rest for both school staff and families. It’s a long road from August to November, and people are tired at this point in the year. It’s been three months since the summer ended, and a lot of lesson planning, grading, test taking, essay writing, and homework for everyone has taken place! At this time of year, it is of particular importance that everyone gets some down time. We all need it – the students, parents, and school staff. November marks a time of year when the season changes, it gets dark earlier, and the days are getting noticeably shorter, so it is not surprising that this seems to be the time of year when almost everyone is struggling with their motivation. This is, after all, when many animals begin hibernating for the winter. When I was a student in England, and a teacher there, I experienced a very different system. School in England is broken up into three terms with a week off halfway through each term. No one is ever in school for more than seven or eight weeks at a time. Fall term ends at Christmas Break with a week off in October. Spring term ends at Spring Break with a week off in February, and the summer term ends in July with a week off in May. There was still a two week Winter Break, a one week Spring Break and a six week Summer Break! I am not saying that it was necessarily a better system, but it did give everyone regular opportunities to recharge and come back to school with more energy each term. We also got three report cards a year, which somehow seemed less painful. Breaks should also give people a chance to truly have time-off from school. As much as I want kids to come to school every day and do their best during class time, I also realize that they can’t do that day after day without getting tired. For kids, this break releases them from the grind of getting up early, attending six classes, doing classwork, doing homework, attending after school activities, and trying to fit in eating, sleeping, socializing, growing up, figuring out who they are, and coping with being a teenager! These are no small tasks for our students. Their lives are becoming increasingly more hectic, and the pressures of getting into college and the related demands on their time leave little if any room for them to relax. Parents and families are also experiencing the same stressors from a different perspective. There are not always enough hours in the day to fit everything in, and unfortunately the first thing to disappear is our time with our family and friends. As we begin this holiday season, I hope that all of you are able to find some opportunities to hop of the metaphorical treadmill and slow things down a little with your family and friends. Savor the joy of good company, take time to relax, and have fun. It might take a conscious effort to let go of our frantic daily routines, but it is absolutely worth it!

Monte Vista High School By Janet Terranova, Principal The holidays are approaching and with that one of the busiest times of the year for our students and families. Our fall sports have ended and winter sports are just beginning with practices and scrimmages. The month of December finds not only our sports teams preparing for their season but students participating in our band concerts, drama productions, choral performances, and speech and debate competitions. More importantly, December finds our staff and student body involved in giving back to our community. Under the direction of our Leadership class, the entire school supports our Adopt-a-Family program and our sister school, Verde Elementary, with stockings for the students. This year we hope to provide a happier holiday for 40-50 families in Contra Costa County and brighten the day for hundreds of students at Verde. Our Leadership class visits Verde Elementary School several times during the school year and students report that these visits have had a significant impact on their lives. Leadership is not the only class that supports community service. Our student clubs are often established to provide service to the community. We have over 85 clubs on campus and of those 85 more than 30 of those clubs were established to provide service to the communities. American Red Cross, Alzheimer’s Awareness, Friends of Special Olympics, Ronald McDonald House Charity , and Smiles for Seniors are just a few of the many clubs serving our community. Additionally our students and their families are often involved in community organizations that support community service locally and around the world. This year one of our students was nominated for a Jefferson Award for his foundation, Tickets for College. If you would like more information about Monte Vista and our events, please visit our website at

Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 11

Sustainable Danville Area Tip of the Month By Cynthia Ruzzi, President Sustainable Danville Area Let There Be Light Let There Be Light. Could that be the inspiration for the many holiday lights that fill our community throughout the holiday season? Or perhaps it’s just our resistance to the daylight savings time change, plunging us into the dark an hour earlier each winter evening. Whatever the reason, the post-season electric bill is probably the one gift you wish you could return. While I’d like to recommend you consider saving the energy and hours of untangling and hanging thousands of blubs outside your house, I don’t really want to take the chance of becoming known as the ‘Environmental Scrooge.’ So instead, may I suggest you trade-in your outdated incandescent holiday lights and ‘deck the halls’ with LED holiday lights? Switching to LED lights can mean a higher initial investment, but the real savings comes from reducing your holiday energy costs. As this year’s holiday advertisements rolled in, I noticed many stores offering trade-in and discounts on LED holiday lights. Do a little legwork, comparison shop wisely, and you’ll save yourself some green for your pocket. Also, don’t forget to look for sales after the holiday – it’s a great way to gain additional savings for your holiday wonderland. A quick search on the Internet points to a multitude of cost savings models demonstrating what can be realized by switching from incandescent bulbs to LED lights. Most comparisons start with the assumptions that the average home holiday light display contains at least 500 light bulbs (a conservative estimate for some spirited neighborhood competitors), that the light strings are turned on from sunset to bedtime (six hours per night), and that the season lasts a minimum of 30 days. In the average holiday light string each incandescent bulb (C7) uses six watts of energy. When we compare the LED bulbs usage of .08 watts each, it’s not hard to imagine the savings boost for your holiday decorating fever. So, not to completely bore you with the price of kilowatt hours in the PG&E 3, 4 and 5 tiers, let me just say that the larger your holiday light tradition, the more dollars there are to save. If saving green for your pocket or ‘doing good’ for the planet isn’t your thing, then consider that LED lights are more durable and safer to run than incandescent lights. LED bulbs generate less heat improving the life span of your holiday twinkle. You can expect LED light strings to last up to 100,000 hours – using our assumptions above at 180 hours a season - your LED lights will outlast Santa! The limited heat output of LED bulbs that contribute to their lifespan also provide safer illumination. The are definitely worth considering as you trim your family Christmas tree this year. Of course, there are advantages of LED lighting over traditional bulbs and CFLs beyond the holiday season. While incandescent 100-watt bulbs have been phased out throughout the US, the benefit of replacing these inefficient bulbs still in your home with LED or CFL is over 75% energy savings. PG&E has a simple efficiency chart online that shows the watts for different bulbs at various lumens (brightness) which can be found at I am not a big fan of CFL bulbs. Each of CFL bulb contains a small amount of mercury which means used bulbs must be treated as hazardous waste. That means it is against the law to put these bulbs in your landfill or recycling bins. Instead, please bring them to your local Ace Hardware or Home Depot that, as a courtesy to their customers, will properly dispose of your residential CFL bulbs. Also, PG&E has a fact sheet, Recycling CFLs: What You Need to Know which can be found at that includes important information about proper clean-up procedures for broken CFL lights. Please keep your family safe, and follow these valuable instructions. Sustainable Danville Area hopes the joy of connecting with your family, friends, and neighbors over simple meals and activities will light your holiday season and all the days of the New Year. There will not be a forum in December, so we can devote time to our loved ones. We hope to see you next year when The Danville Library and Sustainable Danville Area host a three-part speaker series, Food for Thought to nourish your spirit, feed your mind and body, and help the environment. For more information, please visit and on Facebook.

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Page 12 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

Giving Back this Holiday Season By Supervisor Candace Andersen, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, District 2 The month of December is special for most of us. For some it holds great religious significance with Christmas and Hanukkah. We have cultural celebrations such as Kwanzaa. For others, Santa comes to visit bearing gifts. It’s a time to gather with family and friends. Music, parties, great meals, baked treats, and the exchanging of gifts highlight the season. Sadly, there are many who live in Contra Costa County who are not as fortunate as most of us. If you would like to make a difference in their lives, here are two ways you can help.

Feeding the Hungry During this holiday season, for the ninth year in a row, employees of Contra Costa and Solano counties are competing to raise funds for their neighbors in need with the “Counties Care” Holiday Food Fight. Since the Challenge began in 2004, a total of $927,993.73 has been collected. County employees hope to raise over $72,000 this year and hit the million dollar mark. All funds and food collected are contributed to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. For every dollar donated, the Food Bank distributes the equivalent of two nutritious, high-quality meals to hungry neighbors in our communities. You can join in the Food Fight fun by making your donation on their website at and click on the “Counties Care Holiday Food Fight.” In addition, barrels for collecting food can be found in County buildings, including fire stations, libraries, and my offices at 309 Diablo Road in Danville and 3338 Mt. Diablo Boulevard in Lafayette. We are also happy to accept checks made out to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano at my office.

Gifts for Children Another way that you can help make this holiday season brighter for those in need is to support Holiday Helpers, a project led each year by the Volunteer and Emergency Services Team in Action (VESTIA). VESTIA is a non-profit led by volunteers. It raises money and obtains donated goods and services to provide supplemental support to those served by the Employment and Human Services Department (EHSD) in Contra Costa County when no other resources are available. One of the programs they offer is the Holiday Helpers Warehouse, which provides holiday assistance (gifts,

clothing, and food) to low-income children. If you would like to help, they are in need of: • Toys for boys and girls, ages 3 to 14 • Board games • Art kits • Blankets, any size • Warm clothing, children’s only • Gifts for teens ages 15 – 18, including watches, makeup kits, hat & scarf sets, appropriate DVDs, movie tickets, and gift cards ($15 value) All donations should be new and left unwrapped. Cash donations are also very important for last minute special needs shopping. Please make checks payable to VESTIA, Inc. All donations are tax deductible. You can drop donations off at my office through December 13th, or deliver your donations directly to the Holiday Helpers Warehouse, located at 500 Ellinwood Way in Pleasant Hill, on Friday, December 14th between the hours of 9AM and 2PM. For more information about VESTIA, please call (925) 521-5060, or contact Anne Struthers at (925) 521-5062 or by email at In closing, I offer my best wishes to you and your loved ones for a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year. Candace Andersen serves on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. Her District includes the communities of San Ramon, Danville, Alamo, Walnut Creek, Saranap, Parkmead, Lafayette, Moraga, Canyon, and Orinda. Please contact her at (925) 957-8860 or e-mail her at

Give It Up for Good The San Ramon Valley High School Athletic Boosters Club is holding a “Give it Up for Good” rummage sale on Saturday, December 15th from 9am to 3pm at the SRVHS cafeteria located at 501 Danville Blvd., in Danville. Items for sale will include gently used clothing, sports equipment, household items, books, games, kitchen wares, holiday décor, toys, small furniture, etc. The proceeds from this fundraiser go to support and promote all 22 athletic teams on campus. Each year, the Athletic Boosters Club contributes funds directly to each team sport and gives a substantial amount of money to the General Athletic Department to assist in keeping our high quality programs running at SRV.

Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 13

Naughty or Nice? By Evan Corstorphine, Portable CIO How many times have you had a really good or really bad experience at a store or restaurant, and wanted to tell someone about it? As consumers, you may be happy to discover there are a growing number of online tools available with which to grade the vendors we use. The most popular, by far, is Yelp ( Personally, I’ve used Yelp quite a lot when traveling through a strange town or looking for a good place to eat. It seems that someone has always taken the time to give either strong praise or dire warnings about different eateries in every town we visit. Just as in life, you shouldn’t take the word of the first review you read; you need to read several and make note of the consistencies and irregularities in the reviews, and make up your own mind about whether a place is worth a try. I think that if you’re the least bit observant, you can pick up the subtle clues that tell you if a review is planted or genuine. We’ve seldom gone wrong. My wife and daughter used Yelp extensively on a trip to the Eastern seaboard a few years back. They didn’t make plans or reservations, and they simply used Yelp on their iPhones to identify restaurants and Bed & Breakfasts along the way. I don’t think they ever got skunked, although a few times it was tough because they ran out of cell service. We at Portable CIO have established a Yelp account so that our clients can rate their experiences using our services. We’ve never asked anyone to write a review, and what people have written is heartfelt and genuine. However, if you go to Yelp and look up Portable CIO, you’ll immediately be struck by the shopkeeper’s dilemma insofar as Yelp is concerned. Let me explain. While I do appreciate Yelp’s efforts to filter out obvious “shill” reviews (and there are plenty, unfortunately), they go overboard. For example, in our case, today I checked our account and found there are a total of fourteen reviews for Portable CIO. Ten are “filtered” by Yelp because they think they might be planted reviews, which means to see them you have to click an additional link and enter in a code before they’re visible. All ten of them are 5-star reviews from happy customers. Of the remaining four visible reviews, two are five-star, and two are one-star hate-letters from unhappy exclients. The one thing that Yelp does right is that they give the business owner the ability to respond to “hit job” reviews, and to give the viewer their side of the story. In both cases I’ve done so. And with regard to those one-star reviews, I’m philosophical: In a business, you’re going to run across all types of people. The overwhelming majority of the people we work with are great people, and we don’t let the words or actions of a few disturbed individuals deter us from our mission. As you might have calculated, Yelp is showing only 28% of our reviews! In their attempt to be “fair,” they are filtering out the majority of our good reviews because their software thinks they must be planted. So, while as a consumer I have really enjoyed the service, as a business owner I don’t necessarily appreciate their manipulating what the consumer is going to see. I’d prefer, both as a consumer and as a reviewed business-owner, that I see all of the reviews. Let me make up my own mind. I have faith that people are intelligent enough to look past obvious hit-job reviews as well as reviews that are too good to be true or all posted in the same time frame. At least in my case, their attempt to help the consumer is implicitly labeling my business as one with questionably honest reviews, which is as inaccurate as it is undeserved. As for the people who wrote those awful letters, I really don’t worry about them. Some folks have problems going on that color everything they do and every interaction they have with people. You can’t do anything about it, so you just move on. People are smart enough to figure these things out. I hope you give this tool a try as you travel or when you’re just looking for a good place to eat around town. As a business owner, I can assure you we appreciate every single comment, whether they’re glowing praise or constructive criticism. Remember to look at the big picture, and read all the reviews for a company, not just the ones shown. If my situation is any indicator, there are a lot of honest reviews you would want to read being suppressed in the name of “fairness.” Our staff is ready and waiting to help you with your holiday electronics purchases! Give us a call at 925-552-7953 or email to Advertorial speak with a technician. Happy Holidays!

Page 14 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

Solar Currents By Mark Becker, GoSimpleSolar

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SRVHS Winter Boutique and Fair The San Ramon Valley High School Leadership Class of 2015 will hold a Winter Boutique and Fair on Saturday, December 1st from 10am-3pm at the School located at 501 Danville Blvd. in Danville. There will be over 50 specialty vendors, activities for kids, as well as entertainment and demonstrations for all. This fundraiser helps contribute towards the class junior prom, senior ball and grad night. Various clubs at the school will also have tables at the event to raise money for their club (cheerleading, band, biking team, etc.) . For more information Contact Helga Glasson at 925-212-0986.

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the Blue Star Moms ( in downtown Danville during their Veterans Day food drive event. I have a warm spot in my heart for these moms who are very proud of their children who serve in our Military. As a young man in the Marine Corps, I was somewhat oblivious to my mother’s concerns (sorry, Mom). Now that I’m a parent, I’m able to better imagine the depth of the Blue Star Moms’ emotions when their son or daughter is deployed in harms way. One year ago, November 18th, Danville native LCpl Joshua “Chachi” Corral was killed in action in Afghanistan. When a Blue Star Mom loses their child, they become a Gold Star Mom. The Semper Fi Foundation has been founded in Chachi’s honor. ( God Speed to Chachi and his Family. Solar industry growth is 13.2% this year. Solar professions are expected to generate 20,000 more jobs next year, outpacing our economy’s 2% growth. Many returning veterans have found jobs in this growing sector of our economy. With over 150,000 solar projects in California, solar customers are having a positive impact on our economy. Contrary to popular belief, USA made products are very price competitive. A recent decision by the International Trade Commission and Department of Commerce penalizes Chinese solar manufacturers for illegal dumping and subsidies. Tariffs averaging 32% have been levied on their products. Solar Milestone: Recently in California over one megawatt of electricity was generated by solar power in a day. The electricity generated by the solar panels replaced the output of two natural gas power plants. For most properties, the roof is a liability. A solar system can turn ones roof into an asset. One should not wait until a roof replacement is necessary before going solar; in most cases, a solar system installed today will pay for itself and a new roof in less than ten years. No matter what kind of home improvements you may be contracting, a professional should manage the project, especially if there are multiple trades involved. Managing as an “Owner-Builder” is highly discouraged by the California Contractor’s State License Board ( Before entering into any construction contract, spend some time educating yourself on the CSLB website. Mark Becker is the President of GoSimpleSolar, by Semper Fidelis Construction, a Danville based Solar Installation Firm. Mark can be reached at 925.915.9252. Come visit GoSimpleSolar’s new showroom at 114 West Prospect Ave. in Danville to see, touch, and discuss solar and energy efficiency products. For more details, see www. or email Mark@ G o S i m p l e S o l a r. com. Advertorial

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Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 15

Have a Joyous Holiday Season

In the Heart of Downtown Alamo

Shop & Dine Local Support Alamo Businesses CVS Pharmacy.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 314-9710 The New Ristorante Forli. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .820-1711 Don Jose’s Restaurant. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .743-8997 Aqua Salon & Spa. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 837-7884 MD Liquors...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 838-1888 Yan’s China Bistro. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 837-8798 Fred’s Cleaners.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 837-1180 Hospice Thrift Shoppe.................... 820-6525 Taco Bell Express. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 406-0185 Custom Nails.... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 831-9839 Subway. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 362-1520 Viva Espresso Drive Thru.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 984-5919

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Page 16 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

Quick Trips

By Linda Summers Pirkle Whale Watching, Moss Landing

If you are like me, you have driven by Moss Landing on your way to Carmel and Monterey and have not taken time to explore this “quaint fishing village full of hidden treasures and enjoyable activities,â€? as the Moss Landing Chamber of Commerce Directory says. Moss Landing is on the coast, 25 miles south of Santa Cruz. Whale Watching with Blue Ocean Whale Watch (blueoceanwhalewatch. com) is one activity offered in Moss Landing. My husband loves being on water (He’s an ex-Navy guy), so a day on board Blue Ocean Whale Watch’s 60 foot vessel with 30 other passengers was a perfect birthday gift for him. I was pleasantly surprised by the vessel that was to take us 8 to 10 miles out to sea. The Coast Guard certified and inspected vessel has an observation deck with sides that are four feet high and block the wind nicely. The main deck is completely protected with windows all around and easily seats 25 people. The bench on the bow seats nine people. There is a restroom on board. We headed out to sea at 10AM sharp. Just 10 minutes into our four-hour tour, we spotted a Humpback whale! It glided at the top of the water, almost in slow motion, slipped beneath the surface, and flapped its flukes at us. Our group of whale watchers let out a spontaneous “OHHH!â€? Kate Cummings, co-owner of Blue Ocean Whale Watch explains, “Monterey Bay is one of the few places in the world where you can see whales all year long; Humpback whales in the spring, Humpback, Blue and Fin Whales in the summer, Humpback and Blue in the fall, and Migratory Grays in the winter. Anytime of the year there’s a 95% chance you’ll see some kind of whale. January is one of the best times because we see a higher concentration of Gray whales moving past the Monterey Bay on their south-bound route. There is another high concentration of them in March on their north-bound route.â€? Many of the passengers on our voyage were repeat customers. Michele Duckett from the South Bay says she and her husband Tony try to go whale watching every few weeks. “I spend most weekdays in an office. My weekend trip on the water is a totally therapeutic experience, and Kate and Captain Jim make us feel like we are part of the family.â€? Our group had a “rare experience,â€? according to Kate. We came upon hundreds of Risso’s dolphins. Everywhere we looked there were dolphins. We were all amazed. The only sounds you could hear were splashing water caused by the “dolphin showâ€? as they breached and then the clicking of 25 cameras. • After the whale watching tour, stop at Haute Enchilada, a cafe just around the corner from the dock. Their iced mint coffee (with fresh mint leaves, chocolate and vanilla) is so refreshing. The cafe has beautiful works of art. Don’t miss the “fenceâ€? from the 1939 World’s Fair Indo-China Building on Treasure Island. It is in the garden area in front of Haute Enchilada. They can be reached at (831) 633-5843. Call for hours. • Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery, known for their famous Cioppino, which beat Bobby Flay’s in Food Network’s Throwdown, is a few blocks from the dock. They are open Custom Glass daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Doors Their phone number is (831) 633-1775. Blue Ocean Whale Watch can be reached by calling (831) 600-5103. My husband wants to go back for another whale watching day. I know what my Christmas present will be! Book early, they sell out. Linda Summers Pirkle, travel consultant and long term Danville resident, has been arranging and leading tours for the Town of Danville for several years. Inspired by the many wonderful places to visit in the Bay Area, she organizes day trips, either for groups or for friends and family. “If it’s a +HU]PSSL   trip for my husband and me, my husband *HTPUV;HZZHQHYH drives and I talk (he’s a captive audience) – the perfect combination! What a great place to live, so much to see, so much to (SHTV   Open Tues thru Sat 10 to 6 do.â€? To share your “Quick Tripsâ€? ideas  +HU]PSSL)V\SL]HYK :\UKH`[V‹*SVZLK4VUKH` email


Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 17

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Page 18 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

Winter Pruning By Blaine Brende & Joe Lamb Now is a great time to prune your trees to protect them against winter storms. A judicious pruning can reduce the likelihood of branches falling and causing damage to person or property. Evergreens, such as cedars, and many species of deciduous trees, such as valley oaks, can be pruned in the late fall and early winter, and now is by far the best time to prune pines. Monterey pines can only be pruned between October 1 and February 15 without attracting pine beetles. These potentially lethal beetles, which can smell sap from long distances, go dormant in the winter. Some species of beetles carry pine pitch canker, an increasingly common fungal disease that disfigures pine trees and sometimes kills them. If your tree has dead tips scattered throughout the canopy, it probably suffers from pine pitch canker. To prolong the aesthetic life of the diseased tree, prune out the infected tips when the beetles are dormant. Even healthy trees require occasional pruning to keep them safe and beautiful. Many trees are subject to branch and column failure. Thinning the crown reduces the wind-sail effect of the canopy and thereby reduces the risk of the tree failing in a windstorm. Removing weight from the ends of heavy branches reduces the likelihood that those branches will break. Pruning trees for safety is a craft requiring study and experience. A well-pruned tree should not only be safer, it should look beautiful. At Brende & Lamb we take great pride in both the science and the art of pruning. Each plant has a natural growth pattern. Our trimmers are expert at accentuating the shape given the plant by nature. Within the bounds of what is healthy for each species, Brende & Lamb works to make trees as beautiful as possible. Our trimmers are well practiced in aesthetic pruning and are attuned to the artistic flow inherent in tree forms. The form may be weeping, as with Willows and Chinese Elms. In some species, such as Monterey Cypress, branches ascend at acute angles to the trunk, giving the tree an upswept look. Branches in the coast live oak bend and twist, forming complex arcs. Each tree species has a unique form and flow. When necessary, trees and shrubs can be reduced in size, but crown reduction requires a good eye; a poorly reduced tree looks like a thicket of stubs. Topping is almost always a bad idea. However, the crown of many trees can be reduced by cutting back long branches to the crotches formed by shorter branches growing in the same direction. If the branch doesn’t fork, we cut back to the lowest growth point that will neither create a thick stub nor undermine the arching quality of the branch. When a tree or shrub has been reduced in this way, it’s difficult to detect the cuts or tell that the branches have been shortened. Sometimes the form of trees needs to be modified to capture or accentuate views. View pruning requires restraint and a willingness to compromise. In view work, the beauty of the view and the beauty of the tree often seem to be in conflict. Many pruners focus solely on the view and simply hack back the tree. However, more than the tree’s beauty is at stake. Topping stimulates production of water sprouts, and it also causes disease and rot - all of which make the tree more, not less, dangerous. However, view problems can often be solved by looking at tree-and-view as an aesthetic unity, as two elements that complement and frame each other. Sometimes, lightly bringing the tree back without cutting into major branches can prevent further encroachment on the view. To recover even more of the view, we create “windows” by selectively removing branches not essential for the tree’s natural form. We can enlarge these by removing small branches that rise or drop into the view. Thinning above and below the window creates an overall feeling of openness, rather than an abrupt gaping hole. The image of Mount Diablo framed by the trembling needles of a well-windowed Redwood proves that nature and civilization can complement each other - as can aesthetics and practicality. If your trees need a little TLC to protect them against winter winds, or if your property could use a little fire protection, please call 510-486-TREE (8733) or email us at for a free estimate. Additionally, go to our website to see before and after pictures, client testimonials, and work in your neighborhood. Advertorial call. Upon contacting the solicitor, a records check was done. It was discovered that Alamo Police Services District P-2, Zone B the solicitor had three outstanding warrants for soliciting. Deputy Carson arrested Deputy Mike Carson, Alamo Resident Deputy, activities for October 2012 the suspect and transported him to the main jail in Martinez where he was booked. Deputy Carson Completed: Deputy Mike Carson is Alamo’s full time resident deputy. His position is funded 198 Calls for service • 18 Moving citations • 1 Non-moving citations• 4 by Alamo’s P-2B police services district, which includes approximately 60% of Field interview cards • 6 Reports • 2 Arrests Alamo household. District households pay an $18 annual parcel tax plus a portion Deputy Carson Responded to or Conducted of the 1% property tax. The Alamo Police Services Advisory Committee advises 2 Alarm calls • 2 Found properties • 6 Suspicious circumstances • 4 SerSheriff David Livingston on the resident deputy and his services. The Committee vice to citizens • 1 Vandalism • 3 Outside assists • 1 Possession of drugs • 3 is composed of Alamo residents within the district and it meets on the first Monday Grand thefts • 4 Petty thefts • 2 Battery • 5 Residential burglaries • 1 Civil of each month at 5pm in the offices of the Alamo Chamber of Commerce, located at issue • 1 Interfering with public officer • 1 Fraud • 1 Trespass 120B Alamo Plaza. Alamo citizens are welcome to attend the meetings.

If I Were a Thief Program (Crime awareness and prevention) 728 Streets covered • 314 Flyers distributed

Reported Incidents • N. Jackson Way- Residential Burglary - Deputy Carson responded to an audible alarm activation. Upon checking the exterior of the home the front door was found unlocked. Upon checking the interior a small upstairs window was found to have been forced open and items from the residence were stolen. There are no known suspects or independent witnesses. • La Serena Ave - Warrant Arrest - Deputy Carson responded to a solicitor

Exchange Club of San Ramon Valley The Exchange Club of San Ramon Valley meets for lunch the second Wednesday of every month at Faz Restaurant in downtown Danville. The Club’s sign-in and social time begins at 11:30AM. The meeting starts promptly at noon and ends promptly at 1PM. The one-hour program features guest speakers and a business networking speaker. Guests are welcome. Price is $16 for members and first time guests and $20 for returning guests. For more information, call Karen Stepper, President, at (925) 275-2312, email, or visit

Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 19

Life in the Alamo Garden By John Montgomery, ASLA, Landscape Architect A Garden Makeover Everyone knows that good design is “maintenance free” and “lasts forever.” Right! This is why there are so many beautiful gardens existing from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s with ratty looking junipers and Monterrey pines... you get the picture! You wouldn’t keep your carpet for 30 years, right? So, your Alamo garden needs a good makeover as well! There are three basic reasons for a garden makeover: to respond to the changing site conditions which normally occur as a landscape site matures (i.e. stuff gets overgrown), to respond to changing needs of the users of the landscape (i.e. families grow and change), and to re-adapt a site for a new owner (i.e. a new set of uses.) New home sites are generally sunny with bright light and are more exposed to wind, sun, and more harsh conditions. Maturity brings radical changes that are often welcomed. It also brings other changes that are not. Trees finally provide shade cover and shade out once sun-loving plants. Lack of care and poor maintenance practices have taken their toll. Hedges and shrubs have become overgrown hiding the house and blocking good views. These changes give cause for redesign although the overall context of a “welldesigned” landscape may still prevail. Within the life of your Alamo home, an owner’s uses will change as kids growup or a family matures and changes. Lifestyles evolve and change. Once busy families who previously had no time to work in the garden are now retired and have time to “putz.” This brings a whole new reason for the landscape. Children learn to swim and a swimming pool is now a requirement. These changes call for careful consideration and should be well thought out. They should be logical and creatively resolved. Garden makeover projects are challenging yet satisfying when properly executed. I enjoy working with my clients to create a new vision for their yard while using a lot of the existing conditions that work such as large established trees, established privacy screening shrubs that are in tact, and specimen plants that would cost thousands to replace. These dramatic changes to a home warrant a garden makeover. As older families move from the neighborhood, new ones move in. When a new family moves in it changes the needs of the landscape. The landscape needs to be redesigned to re-adapt it to the new family or the new home. Rarely does a landscaped site meet all the needs and expectations of the new owner. Re-adapting a site must be clearly articulated and solved as a design problem using an organized design process. Also, some sites are badly neglected and need drastic measures taken to redesign the landscape. Thorough documentation of all existing conditions such as soil, micro-climates, drainage, shade, and wind patterns should be considered. All existing plants, trees, shrubs, and constructed features that are to be considered to remain should be well documented. A creative design solution, which meets the new need and is sensitive to the existing features and conditions of the site, must be developed. Construction of the new landscape must include all necessary measures to protect and preserve all of the worthwhile existing site features and landscape. Potential additions to the makeover will include updated hardscape elements such as paved areas of use, benches and seat walls, retaining walls, steps to make a site usable or to gain new space, dramatic landscape lighting, swimming pools, play courts and kid zones, and sculptures. Times have changed with the recent economic downturn; we are looking at our homes a little differently. We might be more inclined to make incremental or phased investments, and a garden makeover makes more financial sense. Like the design of a new landscape project, a garden makeover should adhere to the design process. Design and budget go hand in hand! A hot tip from your local Landscape Architect: Executing a garden makeover for tired gardens can be a challenge. It can also make all the difference in the appeal of your home. Take time to walk your garden and note what you like and what you dislike. Consider the term of how long you will stay in your home as a basis for planning your garden. Gardening Quote of the month: “In garden arrangement, as in all other kinds

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of decorative work, one has not only to acquire a knowledge of what to do, but also to gain some wisdom in perceiving what it is well to let alone.” ~Gertrude Jekyll If you would like me to write on any particular subject, email your ideas to or for design ideas visit Advertorial By Jody Morgan

Page 20 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

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The Athenian varsity soccer team were BCL East tournament champions. For the first time since 2003, Athenian also was league co-champions with an 8-1-1 conference record. Pictured above are (front row L-R) Ryan Ball, Christian Torru, Pathorn Buddahri, Juan Rodriguez-Rivera, Garrett Furlong, (second row) Coach Matt Zahner, Andrew McBeth, Arman Afifi, Christian Cotton, Trevor Grauman, Miguel Rodriguez, (third row) Anthony Aguilar, Tyler Huntington, Jack Ramos, Mark Dominguez, Alex Kim, Alex Ball, Brendan Suh, Phillip Coney, and Zach Virgilio.

U11 Mustang Storm ( San Ramon, Danville &Alamo) won four games finishing in first place at their recent tournament!

Gathering garden greens by the basketful gets my holiday season started. Holly and ivy top my list. Mantelpieces are the first areas I cover with evergreens. Twin vases hold stiff stabbing stalks of holly and supple stems of ivy. I cut the ivy in generous lengths to encircle candle sconces and spill over mantel edges. The foliage lasts throughout the season, but the sprays of flowers I add need to be refreshed once or twice. The custom of greening the house for the holidays has its roots in ancient celebrations of the Winter Solstice. The Romans recognized this turning point in the annual solar cycle as the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. They extended the occasion into a weeklong festival: Saturnalia. Holly, sacred to Saturn, was a popular decoration. In honor of the god believed to have reigned during a Golden Age of peace and harmony, masters sat down to feast at the same table with their slaves. Slaves were given the freedom to speak their minds. Wars and executions were suspended giving all a reason to be jolly. The exchange of gifts included sprigs and wreaths of evergreens expressing good wishes for the coming year. Ivy also figured in Roman celebrations, wreathing the brow of Bacchus in winter. As a replacement for the grape vines that crowned the god of revelry and wine and his followers in summer months, ivy was thought to protect the wearers from intoxication. Celtic custom pitted the dominance of the sacred oak in summer against the strength of the evergreen holly carrying the spirit of earth’s renewal through the winter. Ivy’s mysterious ability to strangle the mightiest oak was attributed to her association with the lunar goddess in whose castle the Oak King awaited reawakening at the Winter Solstice. Not surprisingly when Europeans first encountered California’s native Live Oaks with evergreen holly-like leaves, they ascribed mystical powers to these trees. English Ivy (Hedera helix), not native to North America, is considered to be invasive. If you have the straight species, keep it in check by harvesting abundant amounts for holiday arrangements. Despite the tendency of ivy to crumble mortar and harbor pests, the American Ivy Society is devoted to growing the 480 named cultivars currently existing. Like the 2012 Ivy of the Year ‘Henriette,’ a miniature with green and white foliage, these are delightfully non-aggressive forms. My favorite is a Persian Ivy (Hedera colchica) cultivar known as ‘Sulphur Heart.’ New leaves are pure gold, while mature foliage features forest green surrounding an amber center. Although ivy is essentially a vine, it gets woodier and more upright as it ages. Cuttings from older stock will produce stout tree-like growth. The Carol of the Holly and the Ivy harks back to an early custom in English villages. The male youth trumpeted the virtues of the stalwart holly, while the maidens sang the praises of the supple, yet deceptively strong ivy. A few of their songs have survived. From the male perspective: Holly stands in the hall, fair to behold: / Ivy stands without the door, she is full sore a cold Holly and his merry men, they dance and they sing, / Ivy and her maidens, they weep and they wring. Tipping the scales in the opposite direction: Holly and Ivy made a great party. / Who should have the master / In lands where they go. Then spake Holly: “I am fierce and Jolly. / I will have the master / In lands where we go.” Then spake Ivy: “I am loud and proud / I will have the master / In lands where we go.” Then spake Holly, and set him down on his knee: / “I pray thee, gentle Ivy, say me no villainy, / In land where we go.” Finally, the compromise: O the ivy O, she’s the Queen of old, / And the Holly he is red, / Hang ‘em high in the farm and us won’t come to harm / Till the Christmas days be told. Once used as a remedy for coughs, holly was revered as a protection against witches, thunder and lightening. Holly (Ilex) is such a diverse genus that at least one species can be grown in each of our fifty states. To deck your halls with boughs sporting red berries, you’ll need to plant both a male and a female tree. Horticulturists have developed over 1,000 cultivated varieties of American Holly and similar numbers of hybrids and cultivars of English, Chinese, and Japanese species. A holly bonsai makes a thoughtful, good-luck gift!

Working With a Financial Advisor Brought to you by Peter, Jim, Bob, & Paul Six Steps to Help You Get the Most Out of the Relationship

Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 21


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Would you trust your medical diagnosis to a casual acquaintance? Do you cut your own hair or dry clean your own clothes? For some services, it makes more sense to pay a professional who has the expertise to deliver the appropriate results. A professional financial advisor can help you build a sound estate plan, designed to help you toward your long-term financial planning goals. These six steps can help you locate and get the most out of this important relationship. 1. Choosing Your Financial Advisor - One of the best ways to find a financial advisor is through a referral of a friend or relative. Your accountant or lawyer may also be able to provide you with a referral. Since they come with a recommendation from someone you trust, referrals can help you feel more confident about your choice of a financial advisor. You can also find a financial advisor by attending an investment seminar or reading the business section of your local newspaper. 2. Set Up a Consultation - Your first meeting is an opportunity to become acquainted with the advisor and find out if you feel comfortable working together. You should make sure a prospective advisor is a good match for your financial outlook and personality. Ask the advisor about the types of clients he or she is currently working with and try to evaluate if your financial objectives are well matched to their areas of expertise. Follow up with questions about education, experience, and qualifications. Before selecting an advisor, you should feel confident that a prospective advisor can accurately explain the financial arena and the benefits of different financial planning tools. 3. Discuss Your Goals and Obligations - In order to help you clarify your financial goals, your financial advisor will need detailed information about you and your financial situation, philosophy and risk tolerance. Be candid about your income, debts, future obligations, current assets, and anything else that may impact your financial situation. 4. Ask Plenty of Questions - The more you know about financial planning, the more control you have over your financial future. Use your financial advisor as a resource. Financial advisors have access to current information that can help you better understand their recommendations and the performance of your plan. And if you don’t understand something, make sure to ask. 5. Meet or Speak Regularly -Your financial advisor has the expertise and knowledge about financial planning, but won’t be able to fully understand the details of your financial situation unless you share them. In order to keep your estate plan moving in the right direction your advisor needs up-to-date information on life changes that may have financial implications, including: • Marriage or divorce • The birth or adoption of a child • The purchase of a home • A change in your work status, or that of your spouse • Additional current financial responsibilities, such as college payments or care for aging relatives • An inheritance or other financial windfall 6. Listen - Professional advisors can draw from years of experience and help you maintain a long-term perspective on your investment plan through good markets and bad. You’ll get more out of your relationship if you are open-minded about your advisor’s recommendations. While you may not agree with every idea your advisor presents, being a good listener can help increase your investment knowledge. Following these six steps can help you locate and have a successful relationship with a financial advisor. Please contact Peter Waldron to schedule a complimentary review of your financial situation, call 925-659-0383, or email Peter T. Waldron, James R. Westermeyer, Paul Solorzano & Robert J. Waldron Jr. are registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors, a broker/dealer, member SIPC, and offers investment advisory service through Sagemark Consulting, a division of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a registered investment advisor, Spectrum Wealth Partners, 3000 Executive Parkway, Ste 400, San Ramon, CA 94583. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. This information should not be construed as legal or tax advice. You may want to consult a tax advisor regarding this information as it relates to your personal circumstance. The content of this material was provided to you Advertorial by Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. for its representatives and their clients. CRN201009-2046472






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Holidays continued from front page December 1st and Saturday, December 8th on the Forest Home Farms property at 19953 San Ramon Valley Boulevard. Live reindeer and Santa will welcome children both days. Until his supply is exhausted, Santa will give each young visitor a small handcrafted stuffed toy. Handmade gifts were traditional until retailers began pitching purchased presents in the late nineteenth century. An advertisement for Jones Bazar [sic] run in the Oakland Enquirer on December 12, 1891 features Santa talking on the telephone: “Yes, this is Santa Claus. No, I haven’t all the articles you speak of. You don’t expect me to carry a complete stock like Jones, do you?” Making wooden ornaments, decorating cookies, or completing a toy at the Stuff-a-Bear booth will engage visitors in generating their own connections to the past. For those less inclined to hands on experiences, the Gift Shoppe offers baskets of baking mixes made for Forest Home Farms, books, toys, holiday mugs, and more. Vendors will sell handcrafted items on December 8th. Like many members of the San Ramon Historic Foundation that works in partnership with the City of San Ramon to fund and maint a i n F H F, P a t Boom knew Ruth Boone personally. Ruth gifted the FHF property to the City of San Ramon to preserve the memory of her husband Travis, whose parents purchased the farm in 1900. Pat interviewed Ruth

See Holidays continued on page 25

Page 22 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

Safeguarding Your Co-Ownership “Marriage” By Robert J. Silverman, Attorney at Law My last few articles were about real estate succession, and I thought I’d stay with the topic of real estate another month. This time, I’ll focus on a sub-topic that receives too little attention – co-ownership. For the purposes of this article, I’ll define co-ownership as owning a piece of real estate with anyone other than one’s spouse. Owning property with a parent, sibling, friend, or business associate is somewhat akin to being married. Just as on the day of a wedding, on the day co-owners purchase a property, the parties are typically delighted, “on the same page,” and optimistic about the future. But, as the years go by, a large minority of those initially happy married couples grow apart, and some divorce. Likewise, a significant number of real estate co-owners experience major disagreements and problems. Sometimes, these problems lead to lawsuits, monetary damages, and most tragically, destroy valued personal relationships. Many people who buy property, and particularly those who buy with a close relative, are myopic. They can’t foresee any problems arising that they will not be able to resolve by simply sitting down together and working out a reasonable solution. Nearly 20 years ago, my first contested case involved a lawsuit filed against my client by her daughter in connection with their various co-ownership disputes. Sadly, this lawsuit was not only damaging financially to both parties, but it caused wounds in the mother-daughter relationship that may never heal. I assure you the above example is not an isolated incident. I have encountered more than a handful of co-ownership disputes. Many of these adversarial proceedings resulted in similar monetary damage and harsh, lasting personal conflict among the participating relatives, friends, or associates. So, how does one prevent such personal and financial havoc? I believe anyone who is considering a co-ownership venture (or who already co-owns real estate) should hire an attorney who has relevant experience to draft a comprehensive co-ownership (aka “joint ownership,” “equity share,” or “tenant-in-common [TIC]”) agreement. Of course, the best time to establish such written agreement is before the property is purchased; however, don’t think it’s too late if you already co-own a property. As months and years pass, discussions between co-owners that are not put in writing tend to be forgotten or misconstrued. The problem is exacerbated if one of the co-owners becomes incapacitated or dies. Hence, the old adage: “A verbal agreement is not worth the paper it’s written on.” Notwithstanding the fact that a verbal agreement is rarely very helpful, most people don’t even get that far. It’s rare that the parties even think about, let alone discuss and verbally agree upon, all of the major elements of the transaction or contingency plans. A thorough written agreement is no guarantee that misunderstandings and disagreements won’t arise. However, the agreement should anticipate and


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present a framework for handling most common issues. It should serve as a useful reference by reciting critical data and financial terms, identifying each co-owner’s respective rights and obligations, and setting forth dispute resolution mechanisms. Specifically, what kind of provisions should be included? It depends somewhat on the type of co-ownership. Some involve an investor and an owner-occupier, while others involve each co-owner occupying a different unit, and still others involve renting the whole property to third parties, etc. Here are a few examples of issues, among many others, that a written agreement should cover: a) Who is responsible for managing the property, paying the bills, filling vacancies, keeping the books…? b) Who has occupancy rights? What occurrences, if any, might alter those rights, and what are the payment obligations associated with the rights? c) How will it be decided whether or not capital improvements will be made, and how much will each party pay for them? d) What happens if one co-owner wants to sell and the other one doesn’t? e) What happens if one of the co-owners dies (e.g. Will the remaining coowner(s) have an option to purchase the deceased co-owner’s share? If so, how will that interest be valued, and what will the payment terms be)? f) Will the parties agree to mediate or arbitrate disputes that arise? Co-ownership agreements give the parties a useful roadmap and serve a compelling prophylactic function. They can help ensure the orderly operation and disposition of a co-owned property, and provide a valuable means of preserving valuable relationships. I offer a free consultation concerning your current or prospective co-ownership. Mr. Silverman is an attorney with Buchman Provine Brothers Smith LLP, 1333 N. California Street, Suite 350, Walnut Creek, CA 94596; (925) 9449700; His practice emphasizes Estate Planning, Trust Administration & Probate, Real Estate, and Business. Mr. Silverman offers a free introductory consultation. This article is intended to provide information of a general nature, and should not be relied upon as legal, tax, financial and/ or business advice. Readers should obtain and rely upon specific advice only from their own qualified professional advisors. This communication is not intended or written to be used, for the purpose of: i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code; or ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any matters addressed herein. Advertorial

Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 23

Students and Art Educators Featured in Exhibition The “Who Am I?” exhibition depicts original artwork from students throughout the San Ramon Valley and symbolizes their definition of “Who Am I?” The exhibit which runs through December 15th, will explore the students’ creativity and personal narrative through story-telling and imagery. All levels of education will be represented in order to reveal the artistic development and thought process of the elementary, middle, and high school students as well as their instructors. Participating schools include Alamo, Athenian, California, Charlotte Wood, Christian Academy, Del Amigo, Diablo Vista, Dougherty Valley, Gale Ranch, Green Valley, Iron Horse, Montair, Monte Vista, Pine Valley, Rancho Romero, San Ramon Valley, St. Isidore, Stone Valley, Venture, Vista Grande, and Windemere Ranch. The exhibit is being held at the Village Theatre Art Gallery located at 233 Front St., in Danville. Visit or call (925) 314-3400 for more information.

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Alamo Sheriff’s Station Seeks Volunteers

Save Room for Dessert

The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Station in the Alamo Shopping Center is looking for volunteers to assist in law enforcement in our community. The volunteers are assigned duty at the Station's lobby to greet visitors, answer phones, participate in the “If I Were a Thief” program, and assist in law enforcement sponsored events. Adults who do not have a criminal history and who can serve five hours a week should call Lieutenant Tom Chalk at (925) 646-6180, or visit the office at 150 Alamo Plaza #C to pick up an application.

By Monica Chappell

Fine Mexican Dining

No holiday meal would be complete without dessert or, better yet, dessert wine. The holidays are a wonderful occasion to look beyond the normal eating and drinking routine – especially with desserts. It’s easy to stick with the basics--cookies and milk or coffee and cake-but why not try a dessert wine with your dessert, or if you prefer, serve dessert wine as dessert. Combining the nuances of fine wine with a decadent treat for your sweet tooth, these distinctive wines known as dessert wines are rich on the palate. Dessert wines are officially defined as having residual sweetness (coming from concentrated sugars in the grape) or as having been fortified (the addition of grape spirits during the winemaking process), making a final product with an alcohol content of 14-22%. The generous proportion of alcohol provides a mouth-filling heft not known in table wine. Produced by either method, dessert wines deliver rich flavor and pure pleasure! The key to the best wines is the balance between sweetness and acidity.

The Dessert Menu There are as many dessert wines as there are variations of chocolate cake... What’s not to love? Here are a few better know dessert wine categories developed according to the factors that can make them sweet.

Late-harvest Wines

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• Botrytis wines (or Botrytis Cinera), also affectionately called the Noble Rot wines, can come from Europe, California, or Australia. The name may sound strange, but the wine it describes is pure heaven. These wines are marked by a honey and/or apricot flavor with the natural sugar content coming from the concentration of flavors in the berry caused by the rot! • Eiswein primarily comes from Germany with a small amount from Canada and New York. It too has a honey flavor and natural sugar concentration coming from freezing the grapes prior to harvest. Some ice wines are made by freezing the grapes, but most are made by letting the grapes freeze on the vine. Riesling is the varietal of choice for Eiswein.

Fortified Wines • Sherry comes from Spain and has a nutty flavor. It is fortified after fermentation (grape spirits are added) and has a nutty flavor. • Madeira is also from Portugal and is known by its distinct caramel or brown sugar flavor. It can be fortified during or after fermentation. • Port, the real stuff, comes from Portugal and has an intense berry flavor. These wines are fortified during fermentation. There’s no sweeter way to end your meal than with a sip of liquid dessert. Monica Chappell teaches and writes about wine. To see a list of classes visit Advertorial

Page 24 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

The Alamo Chamber of Commerce and local businesses thank you for supporting our shop local program in 2012. We ask for your continued support this holiday season. Look for members handing out our new Shop Local bag giving you discounts all around Alamo. Find more information at or Our local businesses remind you of the benefits of shopping local: 1. Improve Your Local Economy

Chances are that the small businesses you patronize are owned by someone who lives in your community. This means that the money you spend locally will get filtered back in your local economy.

2. Create Jobs

Over the past two decades, small businesses have generated around 65% of new jobs. If independents regained their 1990 market shares, entrepreneurs could create 200,000 new small businesses, generate about $300 billion in revenue in the retail and restaurant sectors, and employ more than 1.6 million American workers.

3. Enrich your Community

Nobody wants to live in a neighborhood that lacks a small business culture. While franchises and national chain stores play a role in the national economy, we all know that small businesses provide an undeniable vibrancy and sentiment vital to community life. Many people believe that small businesses are not just the economic but also the social heartbeat of America.

4. Personalized Experience

Shopping at small local businesses always oers a personal and sincere customer-owner interaction, impossible to replicate with large-scale vendors. Small business shop owners are interested in their clients, know their wants and needs, and are willing to give their customer personal attention to answer questions about their products. Furthermore, a small business owner is passionately and inextricably linked to the success of his or her business, which means they are experts on the product that they create and sell.

5. Original, Handmade Gifts

If you like to give original, handmade gifts, you can’t beat shopping at a locally owned business. Small businesses are commonly thought of as trend setters – paving the way for their larger scale counterparts with an unbridled imagination and vision. Also, small businesses usually do not have to scale their product for a mass market, which ensures high craftsmanship and originality. Please visit for more information. Holidays continued from page 21 for the video shown in the Visitors Center and subsequently donated to the FHF archives the postcard collection Ruth gave her. From 1900 to 1920, postcards were in vogue as Christmas greetings. Santa was frequently shown using the latest technology. The card of Santa driving an automobile from the Boone album is undated, but one mailed from Oakland in 1909 picturing poinsettias reads: “Dear Travis: You like flowers so well that I wish you had some of this kind. There are lots of them in our store windows.” Poinsettias add holiday color to the David and Eliza Glass House, moved to the FHF property in 1998. Mary Ann Wilkman, City of San Ramon Recreation Coordinator, ensures every item on display at the 1877 Victorian home is correct to time and place. “I am a stickler for authenticity,” she explains. Accordingly trees are trimmed primarily with homemade ornaments supplemented by a few blown glass pieces that would have been a luxury. Although they won’t be lighted, candles complete the tree in the family parlor. Birds, feathers, and even artificial goose feather trees were the rage in Victorian America, hence the theme tree in the upstairs hall. Vintage teddy bears, the most collectible with appropriate historic notes, will remain on display in the exhibit room until the end of February. In keeping with the Victorian penchant for saving everything (ask about soap and hair savers when you tour the Glass House), the Recycled Christmas booth is back. None of the gently used donated decorations is priced higher than $5, with many costing just a quarter. All are tabletop or tree trimming size. Jane Jennings, whose research provided documentation placing the entire FHF property on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, chairs Holidays on the Farm. Free performances on December 1st feature the Dougherty Valley High Chorus at 10AM, A Time to Be Jolly Puppets at 11AM, Men in Brass at 11AM, McGrath Irish Dancers at Noon, and St. Joan of Arc Simbang Gabi Filipino Chorus at 1PM. Sheep dog herding demonstrations and old-fashioned games are ongoing. The December 8th entertainment schedule is being finalized. Food ranging from sandwiches and crab cakes to hot dogs and sweets can be bought on site.

Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 25 Costumed interpreters lead tours through the Glass House at 10AM, 11AM, 12PM, and 1PM. Guided Farm tours occur at 11AM and 1PM. Tickets ($5 for either tour or $8 for a combination pass) are available at the Gift Shoppe. Dependent upon docent availability, small group tours of the Glass House decorated for the holidays can be scheduled on other days through December 20th. To arrange a tour or for additional information, contact Sharon Peterson, City of San Ramon Recreation Technician at 925-973-3284. The Museum’s Christmas Memories exhibit, running from now through January 5th, includes whirling mechanical toys and activities tied into this year’s “Favorite Holiday Foods” theme. Located at 205 Railroad Avenue, the Museum is open Tuesday – Friday 1PM-4PM; Saturday 10AM-1PM; Sunday 12PM-3PM. Non-members are requested to pay a small admission fee; members are free. “Pooh Corner” has been a highlight of the Museum’s holiday display for several years. Alice Reynolds, a sprightly 91 year-old retired teacher, has been a Valley resident since 1957. She enjoys sharing the collection she started when a friend turned her own Winnie-the-Pooh memorabilia over to Alice a quarter of a century ago. “Once people know you are collecting,” Alice remarks, “they start giving you more.” Each year chairperson Sonya Borlandelli works more magic into the memories exhibit. New for 2012 is a kitchen with a 1946 range from the second house at Hap Magee Ranch. Dishes on the shelves belonged to the Smith family who lived and worked at Blackhawk Ranch. Shelves are stocked with period items. Antique toys appropriate to each era fill the space underneath the 1890s and 1950s trees. The “O” gauge train running around the stage is a perennial favorite. The mechanical toy carousel, Ferris wheel, and dancing cake are not to be outdone by Santa and his reindeer flying along the overhead track. The 1950s tree drips tinsel. Someone in the crowd is bound to remember the days when families fought over whether to hang it strand by strand or toss it on the tree by the handful. Tinsel, invented in Germany in 1610, was made of extruded silver strands until the early 20th century. Valley pioneer descendent Roxanne Weidemann Lindsay’s 1990 article is re-

See Holidays continued on page 29

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Page 26 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

Alamo Improvement Association By Roger Smith, President Senior Helpline Services Are you a senior or someone trying to assist a senior in need of help with transportation? Senior Helpline Services has the answer for you. Without a safe and available alternative to driving, many seniors face the prospect of moving to senior housing. However, Mobility = Independence. Senior Helpline Services allows seniors to live in their home to maintain their comfort and safety while providing transportation service, telephone relationships, information, and referrals for seniors. They also offer opportunities for seniors and others who care about aging issues to become volunteers and agents of change for our communities. The Rides for Seniors program started September 1, 2005 to fill a gap in services for seniors no longer able to drive or to be able to access other forms of transportation. This service offers free, one-on-one, door-to-door rides provided by screened and trained volunteer drivers. These rides are primarily for the purpose of obtaining medical care, groceries, and other basic necessities. Volunteers are also available by phone to assist with transportation information and referrals. The Reassurance Phone Friends program matches a senior with a volunteer phone friend who will keep the promise to call daily or on the frequency requested by the senior to let them know someone cares, offer a few minutes of friendly conversation and compassionate listening, which allows volunteers to make sure the senior is in reasonably good health and provides an opportunity for volunteers to identify the need for services, information, referrals, and advocacy. Staff members at Senior Helpline Services provide a “safety net” by following up on unanswered calls to see if the senior needs immediate help due to a fall, sudden illness, or for other reasons. To contact Senior Help Services, call (925) 284-6109 or visit

Year End Gifts to Cancer Causes By Jewel Johl, MD As the year draws to a close, we know that many people embrace the spirit of giving by making tax deductible contributions to nonprofit organizations and charities. Many agencies need our assistance, including those who provide cancer support. Cancer Support Community (CSC) reaches out to cancer patients and their families in many vital ways. Previously called “The Wellness Community,” CSC provides comprehensive psychological support and educational programs, at no cost, for people with cancer and their caregivers, children, and families. Their programs and services enable cancer patients and their families to manage their treatment and recovery as effectively as possible, increase their chances for survival, and provide for a higher quality of life. Anyone affected by cancer is welcome, and all of their services are always free of charge. ( The American Cancer Society (ACS) is another organization that makes huge contributions in cancer awareness and research funding. Our patients enjoy programs like ‘Look Good...Feel Better’- (free cosmetology consults and products) and ‘Road to Recovery’- (free transportation to medical appointments). The ACS sponsors ‘Relay for Life’ and ‘Making Strides Against Breast Cancer’ in our communities, raising millions of dollars while raising awareness about cancer, early detection, and prevention. ( The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services. ( Pints for Prostates is a grassroots campaigns that uses the universal language of beer to reach men with an important health message. The campaign raises awareness among men about the importance of regular health U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bay Model Did you know that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bay Model is a working hydraulic scale model of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta system? The model reproduces ship channels, rivers, creeks, sloughs, the canals in the Delta, fills, major wharfs, piers, slips, dikes, bridges, and breakwaters. The model encompasses the Pacific Ocean extending 17 miles beyond the Golden Gate, San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay, Suisun Bay and all of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to Verona 17 miles north of Sacramento on the north to Vernalis, and 32 miles south of Stockton on the San Joaquin River on the south. Of this regional area, the Delta contains more than 400,000 residents living below sea level behind more than 1,100 miles of levees originally constructed more than 30 years ago. Housed within the Visitor Center, the Bay Model is approximately 320 feet by 400 feet in length and is constructed out of 286 five-ton concrete slabs joined together like a jigsaw puzzle. The Bay Model is open for viewing to the public alongside educational exhibits about our Bay’s hydrology and is located in the Bay Model Visitor Center at 2100 Bridgeway Blvd. in Sausalito. To contact the Bay Model’s Visitor Center, call (415) 332-3871 or visit

Public Safety Committee AIA is interested in attracting Alamo residents with suitable career experience in “First Responder” categories to volunteer time on our Public Safety Committee. Please email

Neighborhood Watch Interested in enhancing communication with your neighbors and neighborhood groups? AIA is interested in helping establish a network of interested representatives from various neighborhoods and neighborhood groups in Alamo to discuss the Neighborhood Watch program and its benefits. Please email Not at member of AIA? Consider joining and “help us, help you” and the rest of our Alamo community, visit for more information and a membership form. screenings and early detection by making appearances at beer events, social networking, and pro bono advertising. It is a registered 501(c)3 charity, and funds generated by the group go to fighting prostate cancer and assisting men with the disease. ( The Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) is the only international organization devoted solely to education, prevention, early detection, and prompt treatment of the world’s most common cancer. The SCF’s Road to Healthy Skin Tour celebrated its fifth year of providing free, full-body skin exams to people across America . This year, Diablo Valley Oncology arranged for the van to stop in Walnut Creek, and with the help of three local dermatologists, 70 people were screened. ( These organizations are a few of many worthwhile cancer based nonprofits. Think about all the wonderful ways your donations can help those touched by cancer. Your tax deductible gift can be also be made in recognition or in memory of someone. Visit their websites to make your donation. Happy Holidays! Dr. Johl is a Medical Oncologist and Hematologist. He practices with Diablo Valley Oncology, located at the California Cancer and Research Institute in Pleasant Hill. The center brings together medical oncology, hematology, radiation, chemotherapy, diagnostic imaging, clinical trials, and supportive care services. Satellite offices in Rossmoor, San Ramon, Advertorial and Brentwood. 925-677-5041.

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Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 27

The Eye Opener By Gregory Kraskowsky, O.D., Alamo Optometry Happy Holidays

Take advantage of a Holiday Offer from Dr. Kelly Hood & Dr. Shanny Baughman

Treat Yourself in the New Year

In the next few weeks, you will shop, wrap, decorate, bake, It is hard to believe that 2012 is send cards, and traipse over the river and through the woods. almost in the rearview mirror. I am Beginning in January, you will want some time to noticing the older I get the quicker relax, reflect, and take care of yourself! time seems to fly by. During this Save $50 each off a Wrinkle FixeR time of the year we take a look back for you and a friend and take stock of the progress and changes that were made in the last 12 months. Both you and a friend will each receive $50 off any Our office has grown this year thanks to our patients. You injectable treatment of Dysport, Restylane-L, Perlane-L, or Sculptra between January 3 - January 31, 2013. continually support us and go above and beyond by recomSchedule your appointments together to receive an instant mending us to your friends and family. As the years go by, discount. We look forward to seeing you in January. we are meeting more people in the community, at local establishments, and at the office. We believe in providing them Dr. Shanny Baughman with quality service and care, and this is what our patients 3189 Danville Blvd, Suite 130, Alamo deserve and have come to expect from us. 925-362-0992 We have brought in two new frame lines, Banana public and Dutz. Both lines are unisex, but they appeal to different personalities. Banana Republic has frames that have a sophisticated, clean look for all age groups. Dutz are Dr. Kelly Hood 970 Dewing, Suite 301, Lafayette from Europe and are for those of you that want something 925-283-550 a little different in shape and color. The unique designs and color combinations are something new for the office. Right now Dutz only has metal frames, but plastic ones are coming early next year. For those of you who wear contacts, there have been some additions and subtractions in the market. There are new daily disposable toric lenses for those of you with astigmatism who want the comfort, convenience, and vision that a daily disposable can offer. We had to say goodbye to the Acuvue Advance and O2 Optix lenses. However, there are so many different products to try that patients who used the lenses we no longer carry have all found new lenses and new modalities that have made their contact lens wearing experience even better. In looking forward to the holiday season, we are constantly being asked during this time of year about flexible spending accounts (FSA) and how to use them at the office. The government has a wide range of specified expenses that qualify as a medical expense. These include any office co-pays, any necessary or elective surgical procedures (including LASIK), and many medical devices. Included in that list is any vision correction device (glasses, computer glasses, contact lenses, sports goggles, etc.) and sunglasses. As long as your purchase is made by the end of the year, it will count on your 2012 account balance. In addition to these tax-friendly accounts, do not forget to utilize your vision insurance. At our office, we are providers for Vision Service Plan (VSP), Eyemed (which can include vision coverage for Anthem Blue Cross and Aetna if the plan has a eye care provision), and Medical Eye Services (MES). All plans have an exam benefit and have variable material allowances towards glasses or contact lenses. Some plans recycle at the change of the new year, so this is an optimal time to use your benefits. Between your vision coverage and your FSA, most, if not all, of your charges will be covered. Finally, in this holiday season and all year round, it is important to think about those who could use our help. We always collect old frames and sunglasses and donate them to a local charity in January. The frames are distributed to people who cannot afford quality glasses. As long as the glasses are wearable, the condition does not matter. Regardless of appearance, they will definitely assist a person in need to help them see better. We wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you in the years to come. Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear. He can be reached at 820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo. Visit our newly updated website at, and become a fan on our Alamo Optometry Facebook page. Advertorial

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Tree continued from front page including the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, and Alamo Chamber of Commerce. Also participating is the local community organization, Shelter, Inc. This amazing group is dedicated to helping prevent homelessness and promoting self-sufficiency among Contra Costa residents. It is an independent, charitable, nonprofit organization founded in 1986. They will be collecting money to buy food and toys for families in our area who cannot afford such treats for the holidays. Food collection barrels will be set up for Shelter, Inc. to collect nonperishable items such as canned or boxed goods. You can find a collection barrel in front of Richards Arts and Crafts and they will also be available the night of the event. The festival is sponsored by Alamo Chamber of Commerce with VERY generous donations and sponsorships from our local RPM Mortgage Company, Stone Valley Center, Alamo Oak Tree Plaza, Office of Supervisor, Candace Anderson - County Parks and Rec., Alamo Plaza, Richards Arts and Crafts, Thomas Long Foundation, Imagine Dental, Law Office of Brian Thiessen, Aminda Modrell DDS, World of Sound and Vision, Celebrations on the Bay, Alamo Round Table Pizza and several other local merchants and benefactors. If you are interested in helping with monetary donation or for more information, please visit the Chamber website, Thanks also to the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for helping with the pre-organization as well as with set up and tear down. We are lucky to have kids such as these in our area. Remember to support Alamo and our local businesses! We look forward to seeing everyone and to making this a fabulous and memorable event.

Page 28 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

Reconstructive Surgery: The Other Side of Plastics By Barbara Persons, MD, Persons Plastic Surgery, Inc. What I really enjoy about writing this monthly column is that it affords me the opportunity to educate, and clarify misconceptions about plastic surgery. My practice encompasses both cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, and is in the most basic sense, about changing my patients’ quality of life. Whether the surgery is cosmetic or reconstructive, I look forward to work every day because I know I can help people feel more confident about themselves, and improve their ability to function well, both physically and emotionally. Many of my past articles have focused on education associated with cosmetic procedures, but this month I want to focus on the reconstructive side of my practice. According to the American Board of Plastic Surgery, reconstructive surgery is defined as “surgery performed on abnormal structures of the body caused by congenital defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma, infection, tumors, or disease.” Generally, reconstructive surgery is performed to improve function, but may also be done to approximate a

Bikes continued from front page Recent donations of $1,000 from Danville Rotary and $500 from San Ramon Kiwanis will go towards the purchase of helmets to accompany the bikes. Further monetary donations to help purchase parts and locks are welcomed. Donations can be made at the shop or mailed to St. Timothy’s Church, 1550 Diablo Rd., Danville, CA 94526. Be sure to note Adopt a Family Bikes on the check. Volunteers are always appreciated. No experience is necessary. There are plenty of bikes that need cleaning as well as volunteers can be trained on various aspects of repair. Hours of operation are generally Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through December 20th. For more information and exact hours for donation drop off or offering of help, visit, see Adopt-a-Family Bikes on Facebook, or email

Planning Your Legacy Learn about planned giving, both current and deferred. What are the tax advantages of leaving a gift to a non-profit? We will discuss the importance of beneficiary designations, and explain the differences between living trusts and wills. The free talk is for cancer patients, their families, and friends and is facilitated by Susan Wichmann, an investment advisor with Wells Fargo. Please join us Tuesday, December 4th from 6pm – 8pm at Cancer Support Community located at 3276 McNutt Avenue, Walnut Creek. For information and reservations call (925) 933-0107.

Coping with the Death of a Pet When you lose your pet, you often feel like a part of you is lost. The death of your beloved animal companion is one of the most difficult losses you may ever feel. This loss is sometimes made more painful by society’s seeming lack of support for pet grief. Hospice of the East Bay and the Tony La Russa Animal Rescue Foundation is offering a support group where participants can share memories and feelings and talk to others who truly understand and care. Meetings will be held the first Tuesday of each month from noon - 1:30PM at the Tony La Russa Animal Rescue Foundation, 2890 Mitchell Drive, Walnut Creek. For information and registration call (925) 887-5681. normal appearance. As a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, I perform both cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. Reconstructive surgery represents a significant portion of my practice. The American Board of Plastic Surgery requires extensive training in areas which include congenital defects of the head and neck, craniomaxillofacial trauma, reconstructive surgery of the breast, surgery of the hand, plastic surgery of lower extremities, plastic surgery of the trunk and genitalia, burn reconstruction, microsurgical techniques, reconstruction by tissue transfer, and surgery of benign and malignant lesions. While a plastic and reconstructive surgeon’s training is extensive and spans many areas of expertise, a strong sense for aesthetics is also critically important for a procedure to be successful. Reconstructive surgery is in fact, as much an art form as it is a science. To perform a successful reconstruction, one must envision the results, the “art,” before beginning to operate. It is “seeing” in a completely different way. Plastic surgery has often been misunderstood, or perceived as being superficial. The reality is that my training and strong aesthetic sense has enabled me to perform countless reconstructions, most recently on a pregnant woman with rapidly progressing cancer. It has allowed me to reconstruct a gunshot victim’s facial wounds, and repair the faces of dozens of children who were victims of dog attacks. Additional reconstructive procedures I’ve performed include reconstruction of skin cancer defects, skin grafts, and hand surgery. To have the opportunity to work with patients in need of reconstructive surgery is one of my greatest joys in life. I have seen the physical and emotional transformation of thousands of patients over many years of performing surgery. Enabling a patient to live a normal life, while instilling in them a sense of renewed confidence and self-esteem, is remarkably rewarding. It is more than improving appearances, it is allowing people to live the life they deserve and desire. Dr. Barbara Persons is a Plastic Surgeon and owns Persons Plastic Surgery, Inc. located at 911 Moraga Rd, Suite 205 in Lafayette. She may be reached at 925.283.4012 or drbarb@ Advertorial

Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 29

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plete with food references. “Millie Freitas remembers the huge Christmas tree in the center of the stage at what is now the Village Theatre, but at that time was the Grange Hall. Santa Claus would come and all the local kids would get hard candy, an apple and an orange.” Oranges were a Christmas treat for many families. Noting Betty Humburg Overholtzer’s memories: “Betty remembers her Mother’s carrot pudding with rum sauce, little shades on the Christmas tree lights and two turkeys, one at each end of the table to be carved. In January 1937, there was a lot of snow.” Seasonal treat displays from countries from whence Valley settlers hailed encourage visitors to add their personal musthave holiday foods to the memory tree. For Museum information, call 925-837Sharon Leedham, Joanne Ashmore, and Camille Thompson at work 3750 or visit www. on the Glass House Angel Tree.

Hospice of the East Bay is pleased to offer a variety of support groups and workshops for adults, children, and teens experiencing grief after the death of a loved one. Classes are offered at Hospice’s administrative offices at 3470 Buskirk Avenue in Pleasant Hill.

Support Groups for Adults: • Adults Who Have Lost a Parent - Mondays, 6 - 8M, January 28 - March 25, 2013 • Widow and Widowers’ Support - Thursdays, 1:30 to 3:30PM, January 3 February 21, 2013 and/or Wednesdays, 6 to 8PM, February 6 - March 27, 2013 • Drop-In Bereavement Support Group - 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month, 4:30 - 6PM

Support Group for Children and Teens: The Bridge - Bi-monthly support program for grieving children and teens. Support is also available for parents/guardians. New participants can start at any time! Bereavement Services are provided free of charge to all community members in need, however, donations are greatly appreciated. Pre-registration is required for all groups and classes, except our drop-in group. To register, please call Hospice of the East Bay at (925) 887-5681. Established in 1977, Hospice of the East Bay is a not-for-profit agency that helps people cope with end of life by providing medical, emotional, spiritual, and practical support for patients and families, regardless of their ability to pay. Hospice of the East Bay is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit, organization that relies on the support of the community we serve. Find the most current Bereavement Services calendar at

Hearing Loss Association Come to meetings of the Diablo Valley Chapter of Hearing Loss Association of America at 7pm on the 1st Wednesday of the month at the Walnut Creek United Methodist Church located at 1543 Sunnyvale Ave., Walnut Creek Education Bldg., Wesley Room. Meeting room and parking are at back of church. All are welcome. Donations are accepted. An assistive listening system is available for T-coils, and most meetings are captioned. Contact HLAADV@hearinglossdv. org or 925-264-1199 or

Page 30 - December 2012 ~ Alamo Today

Your Personal Nutritionist

By Linda Michaelis, RD. MS. Enjoying Christmas Parties - The Healthy Way

Do not let the holiday season sweep you up and cause you to lose sight of your weight goals. As I tell my clients, you can enjoy the holidays and still keep your weight stable without gaining those 10 pounds that you will regret next year. First, come up with an eating plan now so you can be prepared for when you may have several parties to attend day after day, or even several in one day. Rule Number One: Don’t arrive at your party too hungry. If you arrive hungry, you set yourself up to fail in a situation where you will inevitably overeat. Before leaving home for an evening event, have a substantial lunch that includes at least 4-6 ounces of protein and a cup of veggies. Skip breads, like with a sandwich, since you will almost certainly have bread products at the party. Try tuna stuffed in a tomato or an egg white omelet with diced ham and veggies. Remember you want to enjoy the party and not leave the event feeling too full which can lead to having a poor night of sleep. Of course you want to enjoy specialty party items such as eggnog, fancy hors d’oeuvres, homemade goodies, and more. You must be very selective when you arrive at the party. I advise that you first walk around, look at all the offerings, and then decide how to proceed. Don’t eat lots of chips, cheese, and breads that you can have every day. These foods fill you up very quickly and can make you full. Select the special holiday treats such as stuffed mushrooms, crab cakes, and the creative appetizers that you absolutely love. Skip the dips which are almost always high in fat. Save the calories for the great tri-tip or even crème brulee. Do not fill up on appetizers unless you decide that they will be your dinner, forgoing the potential baked ham and scalloped potatoes to come. If you are asked to bring a dish, bring one that will help you through the event. It is always great to bring a shrimp cocktail, skewered shrimp, roasted veggies, grilled asparagus with a balsamic glaze, or even a fruit salad. These items will definitely help balance your meal, especially when the offerings are often mainly starch and meat laden. Did you realize that the more food you eat the more alcohol you drink? By scaling back on the amounts of food you eat, your alcohol consumption should drop in half. I tell my clients they can be more successful if they limit themselves to two drinks at an event. Hard liquors such as vodka and gin have half the amount of calories as a tall goblets of wine. So, Vodka mixed with lite cranberry juice would be a great alternative. I often tell my clients during social eating to “work the room.” Take one plate of food from the buffet, and then instead of going back for more food visit with the partygoers, making it a point to talk with each guest. While you are talking to the guests watch how often people go back to the buffet and stuff themselves. Watch those men and women that are in shape, and see what they are eating. This is always quite an eye opener. Arrive fashionably late if necessary. It will inevitably save you some calories. Please make time for your exercise program. You can burn off between 300 and 500 calories by doing intense exercise for one hour. This can easily allow you to have a couple of appetizers or a few Christmas cookies. I often offer counseling to my clients during the holiday season by phone or email. We chat often and I try to guide them and “hold their hand” through holiday parties. The clients usually give me some idea of what will be served, and we role-play the event starting from the beginning of the day up until the feast. It gives the client a sense of confidence to attend the party with a plan in mind. It is a constant thrill for me to hear how compared to past years they have been able to sail through parties with even more enjoyment without overeating. Feel free Our mission is to provide personalized care, help maintain independence and enhance our to call me to discuss your upcoming party so client’s quality of life on a daily basis. we can put a plan together. I am glad to inform that nutritional coun• Free in-home assessments • Regular home visits ensure the right care plan • Hourly care Heartfelt & seling can be covered by your insurance. Feel for you • Live-in care Supportive free to call me at (925) 855-0150 or e-mail me • Fully bonded and insured • Geriatric care mgmt. at and tell me about • Elder referral and placement your nutritional concerns. Refer to my website At All Times... 3645 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite D for past articles, recipes Lafayette, CA 94549 (beside Trader Joe’s) 925-284-1213 and nutrition tips in my blog section. Advertorial












WILLS/TRUSTS/PROBATE/ESTATE PLANNING - Elizabeth Johnson, J.D.(Juris Doctorate), LL.M.(Master of Law in Taxation), is an attorney with over 20 years of experience. She provides legal services in the areas of Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning, Probate Administration, Advance Health Care Directives, Elder Care issues, and Guardianships. Her legal expertise and personal approach allow you to confidently plan for your future and the future of those dear to you. Please call 925-362-1010 or visit

FOR RENT CONDO VACATION RENTAL Mauna Lani Resort, Big Island. New luxury 2 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath condo on 4th fairway. Minimum 3 night stay. Contact Alamo owners for discounted rate. (925)381-7042


Alamo Today Classifieds Reach over 6,300 homes and businesses in Alamo - Help Wanted, For Sale, Services, Lessons, Pets, Rentals, Wanted, Freebies... $35 for up to 45 words. $5 for each additional 15 words. Run the same classified ad in our sister papers “Lafayette Today” or “Danville Today News” at half off! Send or email submissions to: 3000F Danville Blvd #117, Alamo 94507 or Payment by check made out to “The Editors” must be received before ad will print. Your cancelled check is your receipt. We reserve the right to reject any ad. Name_________________________________________ Address__________________________________________ # of Words_______________ Phone________________________________________ Email ____________________________________________________________________

Alamo Today ~ December 2012 - Page 31

Page 32 - December 20 2012 ~ Alamo Today

The Combs Team Professionals You Can Count On



Call the Combs Team


925-9 8 9 - 6 0 8 6 122 Alamo Homes Sell in Broad Price Band - Just to be a little different this month, I thought I would list the homes that have sold in Alamo as reported on MLS for the last half of the year (June 1- Nov. 9). The first thing that jumps out is the wide variation in sold price and dollars paid per square foot. The statistical average for sold price in Alamo is $1,283,664 the average square foot price is $381. The price swath ranges from roughly $372,000 for a condo to $3.585,000 for a Luxury Home. Prices per square foot range from $223 to $631. Not one Alamo home sold for the exact statistical mean. The take away message is simply this, homes are being judged on their individual merits now more so than in the past and pricing correctly is more important than ever. Nancy and I have launched a Address new and improved website www. You will find our most recent articles as well as others that never make it into the newspapers. On the website you can, with the touch of a button, quickly find distressed property sales, both Short Sale and REO properties as well as search the entire MLS database for what you are looking for. You can set up auto searches that will send you email updates for new properties that meet your search criteria. Links include our Facebook and Linked in accounts, Twitter, and our Real Estate Blog page. Please visit our website and take a test drive. You can also download and use our free mobile search application for your mobile device. If you have ideas for improving our site, please call or send me an email at 925-989-6086 or joecombs@ We would be grateful for your input. May you and your family have Joyous Holiday Season.

Sold Price Sqft $/Sqft Address

Alamo Short Sale



Sold Price Sqft $/Sqft


Investors Welcome

Sold Price Sqft $/Sqft Address

Sold Price Sqft $/Sqft

Build Your Dream Home



Amazing single story home on quiet cul-desac. This will be pending in no time! Call for details.

Amazing 3 bed, 2 bath condo in prime location. Great investment opportunity or starter home. Call for details.

7 acre lot, 11 acre lot, 1.1 acre lot. Call for details and pricing.

Alamo Short Sale

Investors Welcome

Contemporary Single Story



Dramatic, one-of-a-kind luxury home with amazing views! We get results!



Short sale. Beautiful remodel, single story. Investment opportunity. Call for details.

Data presented in this column is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the Contra Costa and Alameda MLS service and other quoted sources. Joe and Nancy Combs, J. Rockcliff and the MLS service do not guarantee the accuracy of this information. DRE #0144125.

Superb remodel with a fantastic chef’s kitchen in very desirable location, pool. Call for details. J. Rockcliff Realtors 15 Railroad Ave., Danville CA. 94526

Alamo Today, December 2012  

Alamo Today, December 2012. The town of Alamo, California's monthly advertiser-supported community newspaper.

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