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New veterans memorial being built in Castro Valley

Last weekend saw the groundbreaking of a the Castro Valley Veterans Memorial at Castro Valley Community Park. That’s the one on Lake Chabot Road near Seven Hills. Here’s the press release:

Castro Valley, CA – It was history in the making Saturday, March 3, 2012 as a dedicated band of volunteers and local dignitaries joined more than 200 members of the public to break ground on a permanent tribute to the sacrifices of military men and women: the Castro Valley Veterans Memorial. The Memorial, now fully permitted, is closer than ever to completion.

The Memorial will one day soon occupy a prominent corner of Castro Valley Community Park at Lake Chabot Road and Quail Avenue.  The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #9601 has been the driving force to bring the vision to reality, all in the name of commemorating those who have honorably served our nation and defended and continue to defend our freedom and way of life.

“I see this memorial as a salute to the military veterans of Castro Valley and Alameda County who have given so much to defend and protect this great nation, the United States of America,” said Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley.

Supervisor Miley donated funds for part of the memorial that will signify the contribution of women, a “Rosie the Riveter” bench. His is one of the many generous contributions, including a $50,000 donation from the family of U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Travis M. Amsbaugh. Sgt. Amsbaugh was a Castro Valley native who passed away on September 1, 2011.

Joining Supervisor Miley at the groundbreaking were State Senator Ellen M. Corbett, State Assemblyman Bob Weickowski,  Hayward City Council Member Bill Quirk, Hayward Area Recreation and Park District Director Dennis Waespi and East Bay Municipal Utility District Director Frank Mellon.

The  Castro Valley Veterans Memorial Committee acknowledges all of the major donors on its website at www.cvvm.info/sponsors. Committee members are: Michael L. Emerson, Patrick Flanagan, BART Board President John McPartland, Bob Pirone, Jim Uhlik, Art Benin and Mary Greenlee.

Although the committee has been successful in raising almost all of the required money,  more donations are still needed. Go to: www.cvvm.info for more information and to make a tax deductible donation.

Posted on Friday, March 9th, 2012
Under: Castro Valley, History, Odds & Ends | No Comments »

Downtown Hayward comings and goings

This week’s City Council meeting includes a presentation from the Cal Poly Technical students who have been working with the city to bring some fresh ideas to rejuvenate the downtown plan, some of which dates back to the ’70s. The students have a website soliciting input from the community; you have until March 20 to weigh in. Take a look at some of the ideas that are being floated over there and if you weigh in, cut and paste it over here for the HayWorders.  And the city also has a page dedicated to the downtown plan update with a lot of information.

Buffalo Bill's Brewery, which has been around since 1983, is one of downtown's success stories and owner Geoff Harries recently told city officials that business is better than ever these days. Here, manager Alex Caldeira doles out the good stuff. (Photo by Doug Duran/Staff)

Figured I’d use this as an opportunity for an update blog and clean out my notes of recently collected downtown stuff.

Here’s a story about a new owner taking over the Cinema Place property, which a lot of people are excited about. Here’s one about the ongoing roadwork in the area — the job is about halfway done and that controversial loop of streets is set for completion at the tail end of the project, about a year from now.

Recent downtown closures, openings and odds and ends:

Garry’s Donuts, the little shop kitty corner to the Bistro, closed after more than 20 years. A number of people cited an increase in rent as the reason. There used to be an older fella who enjoyed sitting outside the donut shop on warm afternoons — haven’t seen him since it closed.

Crepes de Art shut its doors on Foothill, and one of the sisters that opened it back 2009 said they’re still making crepes but on a catering basis only, without a storefront. The yogurt shop next door has been gone for a while, more recently Zuckersuss vacated its Cinema Place space, although you can still see a white baby grand piano inside. Foothill also took a hit with the closure of Montero’s Market, the big Mexican supermarket and taqueria.

The BBB Salon on B Street  held a blow-out sale a few weeks ago before also closing, building owner managed the shop and she said she simply doesn’t have time to spend running a clothing boutique that wasn’t making money. She added that the city is “too strict” in what uses they allow for downtown space, and said she could have rented it out to a popular S.F.-based boxing gym if the city had been receptive to such a use. “You have to accept whatever type of business wants to open,” Hong Do said. “After a while, once you have foot traffic, then you can pick the businesses that come in.”

Leather Odyssey also put up a clearance sign, but  is sticking around, although owner Glenn Marciel said it’s “really sluggish” right now and he’s in “survival mode.” He said the owners of the Odd Fellows building he’s in gave him a pretty good break on the rent and that’s the only reason he’s getting by.

Now some good stuff: We had a story on Vintage Alley and its friendly owners, and new burrito joint Avocado Freddy’s recently set up shop the old KFC building at that tricky E/Foothill/Mission intersection. Story on the Hayward Area Historical Society, which is well on the way to opening up their new space in the former Kumbala building, and have rented 6,000 square feet of space to a health services company. Turns out that was the spot that Big 5 Sporting Goods was eyeing a while ago, which fell through.

There’s a restaurant going in at the old Smith building on B Street, called KUPE Studio. It will be African-themed fare, with a bar. As you can see on the website, owner Richmond Apande originally wanted to open a spot with music, entertainment and dancing, but said he got in a “back and forth” with the city over his business and security plan and eliminated that part of KUPE. Now things are going smoother, he said, and he hopes to have it open in the next few months.

Also new on B: California Acupuncture Center and Herbal Shop. Around the corner on Main, the former Main Street Diner is now Bombay Masala Cafe, noticed a opening special of three beers for $10 so they might be aiming for the same college crowd that was attracted by the previous incarnation’s nightly specials.

That’s it for this round. Anyone see something else appear or disappear?

Posted on Monday, March 5th, 2012
Under: Business, Entertainment, General, Hayward, Health, History, Odds & Ends, Real Estate | 3 Comments »

The Armas Theorem: A proof to a parcel tax

While the Hayward Unified school board didn’t actually vote on whether to place a $58 parcel tax before voters come June, they indicated at Wednesday night’s public hearing that a majority of trustees support it.

Board President Jesus Armas laid it out in a manner reminiscent of a geometric proof, asking questions to hear givens from Asst. Supt. of Business Services Stanley “Data” Dobbs that led to his conclusion that yes, a parcel tax should be placed before voters.

Did state triggers recently mean another $900,000 hit to the district? Yes.

Has the district seen a loss of funding to the tune of $26 million over the past three years? Yes.

Has the district taken steps that could be considered Draconian to deal with those cuts? Yes.

Is an increase in classroom size one of the ways that the cuts have been reflected? Yes.

Have employees already made concessions? Yes.

“We’ve already grabbed all the low-hanging fruit,” Dobbs said.

“I have no reservations,” Armas said, adding that as leaders, they need to go forward with whatever measures possible within the district because the state has trashed public education funding to the point where it “is not acceptable.”

The tax would collect $58 annually from about 35,000 parcels in Hayward, with an estimated 5,000 opting for the senior exemption, according to Dobbs. That adds up to $2 million a year for the district, or $10 million over the life of the parcel tax.

While that’s not going to cover an ongoing $7.4 million deficit  cited in the staff report for this fiscal year, Supt. Donald Evans called it a “beneficially small yet significant first step to bringing the community together to support local schools.”

Trustee Maribel Heredia agreed with Armas, saying they “can’t wait for the state to do the right thing, we have to take matters in our own hands.”

Trustees William McGee and Lisa Brunner were also supportive, albeit with more reservations. Brunner said the tax must be coupled with an audit of programs so they can make sure the money is being spent wisely and not on things that haven’t been working. She compared it to a house that needs a new roof.

“You can add three roofs before you get rid of the old one, but sooner or later you’ll have to get rid of it,” she said.

Trustee Luis Reynoso said the district is wasteful and that the $2 million that would be reaped annually is about the same as what is “squandered.” He pointed to the hire of Asst. Supt. Francesca Sanchez in the fall as money that wasn’t budgeted but spent without due process, and said the district’s project bidding process is faulty. He also said that homeowners are in trouble, with many foreclosures and vacancies, and that it is also a period of underemployment.  He concluded that the tax “might be necessary, it might not be but the way it was put together was very fast and sloppy.” He said they should go to the community first, “find out their needs, not just look at bullet points on a poll.”

About a half dozen teachers and the head of the HEA spoke in favor of the tax. Opposition included John Kyle, who vowed to fight it and said trustees need to go after the parents of truant students.

The tax would need two-thirds approval. Draft text of what would appear on the ballot:

To protect critical education programs, with funds that cannot be taken by the State, including:

  • math, reading, writing and hands-on science classes/lab;
  • enhancing library services, technology and college preparation programs;
  • providing programs for all students to meet State academic standards; and
  • attracting and retaining qualified teachers;

shall Hayward Unified School District be authorized to levy $58 per parcel annually, for five years, with an exemption for senior citizens, mandatory citizens’ oversight and all money used for classrooms in the Hayward schools?

Story to come, vote is expected at the next meeting in March. The New Haven district decided this week to go ahead with a much larger parcel tax. Castro Valley trustees said earlier this year that they would not.

 

Posted on Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
Under: Fairview, General, Hayward, Schools | 52 Comments »

Antiques appraiser comes to town

Guitars! Bayonets! Bling!

One of those gold/silver/antique and collectibles appraisers is in town through Saturday. If you end up going and get something appraised, let us know what it was and what they said. Here’s the press release and a photo of some of the stuff they’ve acquired so far from the Hayward stop.

ROADSHOW COMES TO HAYWARD!

February 14- February 18

Tuesday – Friday 9am – 6pm, Saturday 9am – 4pm

Hampton Inn

24137 Mission Blvd.

Hayward,CA94544

If you have gold, silver, antiques or other rare collectibles lying around your house, the Ohio Valley Refinery & Roadshow wants to see them!

The Ohio Valley Refinery & Roadshow is making a stop in Hayward this week in search of rare and unique collectibles. The refinery has the resources to pay top dollar for your gold, silver, and collectible items.  “Gold and silver markets have not been this strong for over 30 years,” states company spokesperson, Dennis Kouts. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2012
Under: General, Hayward, Odds & Ends | 26 Comments »

HARD honors volunteer of the year

Volunteer Joel Ellioff and HARD trustee Louis Andrade at the honarary brunch on Jan. 28.

Joel Ellioff was honored with Hayward Area Recreation and Park District’s volunteer of the year award. He works at the senior centers, and is a volunteer driver for day trips, bringing seniors co museums and other cultural attractions. He also volunteers in the woodshop program and spends his lunch  break in the kitchen, serving up hot meals.

HARD has a honors a volunteer each month and then picks one from the 12 for this honor. Find a list of all volunteers of the month and more on Joel in the press release after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
Under: Alameda County, Castro Valley, General, Hayward, Health | 5 Comments »

Greg Jones: Keep gang injunctions as priority

Former City Manager Greg Jones checked in with a letter to the editor, related to the City Council setting priorities for the coming year. Jones is concerned about diluting the core goals with the addition of “Green,” which was done last year, and a lack of interest in pursuing gang injunctions,  a hot topic at the Council priority-setting meeting in January. Here’s his letter:

To The Editor:

The Hayward City Council has been reviewing their priorities for 2012. I applaud their continuing efforts to ensure the focus remains on the right things, a process I began back in late 2007 when I arrived at the City. We built a strong, clear framework for how the resources of the City are allocated to service delivery.

Unfortunately, two things (among others) have occurred to weaken that clarity first established almost five years ago:

1. The two overriding priorities of Public Safety and Cleaning Up Hayward have been diluted by the addition of a third overriding priority of “greening” Hayward. This has distracted the organization from the core services that first have to be delivered above all others. Conservation efforts have always been emphasized at the City through a number of actions and policies, but serve as a support of the other two priorities. Each of us has a personal responsibility to assist in meeting environmental challenges to be sure, and local policies enhancing that ability should be carefully considered. I want my elected Council to stay focused on the most concerning and immediate of issues: Safety and Cleanliness!

2. The Gang Injunction Program, a priority articulated when I arrived that has languished for the past four years, has lost Council support. Interestingly, it is members of Council running for reelection that shrank from their commitment to continue to strengthen our public safety efforts. Olden Henson is the lone supporter of the Gang Injunction Program running for reelection. Mayor Sweeney and Council member Marvin Peixoto also support forging ahead with the effort. The others have gone eerily silent in supporting this important policy decision. A number of very effective initiatives have been implemented, but the Gang Injunction Program is a crucial element of a comprehensive strategy for curbing crime.

The community supported Measure A, the Utility User’s Tax, to maintain public safety and to clean up Hayward. We need a Council that will stay true to that commitment. We certainly have NOT reached our goal of a “safer” Hayward nor have we “cleaned up” Hayward to the point we can move on to other issues that could be considered as important.

Let your City Council know you want them to stay the course. Let’s getHayward safe and clean before we start distracting ourselves with other less specific and measurable endeavors.

Greg Jones

Former City Manager, City ofHayward

City of Hayward Resident

Posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
Under: Crime, Environment, General, Hayward, Real Estate | 13 Comments »

What’s up at the San Leandro Marina?

Had a story updating what’s going on at the San Leandro Marina, with a focus on the “liveaboards” who call it home. Story was long, never got around to certain aspects such as the crime that accompanies blight. Clipped this part:

Reverse racism! Also, beware the satanic thug and his evil can of hot pink paint.

“There is crime,” said boat owner Oliver Campbell. “Prostitution, and drugs. You run around out there and you got to be careful or you’ll get a needle stuck in your foot.”

Up around the bend in the jetty, past the fenced off former Boat Works site that is now a haven for feral cats, hot-pink and black tags marred the outside wall of a public restroom.

“I’ve been coming here for years, but this is the first time I’ve seen this,” said James Mason, pointing at a pair of hateful little symbols. “It must have been kids – they didn’t even do the swastikas right, they’re going the wrong way. But the intent is still there.”

It should be noted that while I was going through archives I came across a lot of stories related to crime at the marina back in better days. It was once quite a party hangout for teenagers, and there were also some interesting tales of out-of-control incidents at the Blue Dolphin.

“It’s like that with any public park that’s open at night,” said harbor master Delmarie Snodgrass. “You’re going to get people out there, some of them looking at the water, others just to party.”

Snodgrass added that when it comes to big  displays of illegal behavior – think sideshows – “police have been on top of that.”

She said if necessary, cops have a handy way of isolating and catching troublemakers.

“They will close Marina Boulevard and Fairway Drive,” she said. “They’ll box them in if they start doing that stuff again.”

Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Under: Business, Crime, Development, San Leandro | 3 Comments »

Just don’t let the big rat drink

Sunday update: Here’s that happy hour story.

Hayward was talking alcohol at Tuesday’s meeting, in particular loosening a restriction on happy hours around town. More on that later. But as part of the informative packet, they included a chart of the most problematic alcohol serving locations around town based on calls for police between January 2010 and August 2011.

By far the highest number of calls (8 battery, 2 assault w/deadly weapon, 60 disturbances, 6 drunk in public, 6 Alcohol and Beverage Control violations) were to a liquor store at the corner of Mission and Industrial boulevards, with downtown’s Funky Monkey bar settling for second place (5 battery, 15 disturbances, 30 drunk in public, 4 ABC violations).

But the most surprising entry came in midway through the list of 30 establishments.

No. 15, with two calls for battery and 11 for disturbances: Chuck E. Cheese.

Click on the chart for a larger view. See any other surprises? Downtown venues are highlighted in yellow, top six in pink. To be fair, higher numbers can also indicate an owner’s lower tolerance for shenanigans, particularly when it comes to determining what exactly qualifies as a “disturbance.”

Posted on Thursday, January 26th, 2012
Under: Crime, Hayward, Odds & Ends | 7 Comments »

Hayward chamber to honor persons of the year

From the Hayward Chamber of Commerce:

Hayward will honor recipients of the Educator, Firefighter, Police Officer and Business Person of the Year Award at the 68th Annual Hayward Chamber of Commerce Awards Celebration Gala on Jan. 28, 2012.

“This is one of Hayward’s great traditions, and a reflection of the esteem that this city has for those that make community service their priority,” said Kim Huggett, president and CEO of the chamber. “The fact that this event sells out every year says a lot about Hayward.”

Those to be honored are:

Julie McKillop, Business Person of the Year

Julie McKillop, owner and executive chef of Neumanali Restaurant and principal of McKillop Accountancy, will receive the Business Person of the Year Award. A lifelong Hayward resident and graduate of Cal State East Bay, she and husband Tim began a major redevelopment project in 2000 that became the upscale wine-centric Victorian-style restaurant Neumanali. Both her restaurant and accountancy business are located downtown, across from city hall. Her long record of public service includes serving on the boards of directors of Spectrum Community Services, the Hayward Historical Society, St. Rose Hospital and the Hayward Chamber of Commerce. She also served on the Hayward Planning Commission, the city’s Small Business Revolving Loan Committee, and she worked with the Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment.

Hector Garcia, Educator of the Year

Hector Garcia has been an educational leader for 16 years, most recently as principal of Harder Elementary School. At Harder, he has worked with universities, public health and safety agencies in Hayward and Alameda County to leverage support, tutoring and professional development resources to transform Harder into a model school.  He initiated an arts program in Hayward in 1998 for elementary and middle school students called Mariachi Juvenil de Hayward, which serves students and families throughout the East Bay. He served as director of curriculum and instruction at Alameda County Office of Education for five years, focusing on the needs of underachieving student populations and organized parent education forums throughout the county, utilizing parents as facilitators, leaders and advocates.

Captain Joe Stilwell, Firefighter of the Year

Hayward Fire Capt. Joe Stilwell discovered his love for the fire service as a young man when he joined the volunteer fire department in Chico. He became a paramedic, then a firefighter and joined the Hayward Fire Department in 2005. Early in his career with HFD, he noticed that the department’s ventilation saws were stalling during operations due to tar build-up. On his own time, he fabricated a metal guard to protect the motor, a feature now used throughout the fire service. He also developed new hose rollers for HFD equipment, saving the city considerable cost in maintenance and equipment. Embracing the HFD commitment to community service, he has worked on the annual Toys for Kids Program and the charity golf tournament. He has responsibility for the HFD’s popular 1923 Seagrave fire engine that is exhibited at community functions and which is representative of Hayward’s appreciation for its fire service and city history.

Faye Thomas, Police Officer of the Year

Officer Faye Thomas began her law enforcement career at 16, when she began volunteering at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office and, in 1999, was hired there as an administrative assistant. She later became a dispatcher and in 2009 became an officer with the Hayward Police Department. Over her two years in the HPD, she has consistently been a leader among her peers in arrests, citations and DUI suppression. In July 2010 she initiated a project  that led to an investigation of human exploitation and trafficking that involved nine Bay Area municipalities and three countries. Largely as a result of her work, 15 suspects were taken into custody and three victims rescued from human trafficking. Officer Thomas put herself through a Drug Abuse Recognition Course and Narcotic Investigators School and has taught coursework in drug trends and investigation to more than 100 HPD officers. She also is in demand as a speaker on child abduction issues and is a participant in Susan Komen Cancer Society fund-raisers. Her next goal is to obtain a law degree and earn a doctorate in international relations.

Posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
Under: Business, Crime, Hayward, Health, Schools | 1 Comment »

Story on new HUSD superintendent

Quick heads up for those who don’t get the paper – here’s today’s story from a meeting I had with new Superintendent Donald Evans. He’s still settling in, but what would you have asked him? What are your gravest concerns? He says he wants to hear from everyone, so send him an email but also post it here for the sake of discussion.

Posted on Saturday, November 12th, 2011
Under: Hayward, Schools | 164 Comments »