Big Mike gets the ax — but that’s OK

HAYWARD — In case you missed it, Big Mike, the iconic 20-foot-tall fiberglass he-man statue that stood for decades on Mission Boulevard, has a new home.

As you can tell from the top of our page, Big Mike holds a special place in the HayWord’s heart.

Bruce Kennedy, owner of Bell Plastics in Hayward, bought Big Mike as the former Tyre Treads property where the big guy stood went into foreclosure. The years had not been kind to Big Mike: In addition to his paint being faded, he had a hole in a leg and part of him bore graffiti markings.

Kennedy had the statue restored and returned to Hayward, in the driveway of Bell Plastics on a side street in the industrial area. Big Mike looks great, but he held nothing in his hands, one of which is upturned and the other facing down. One report we read said that at one time he held a giant scrub brush in front of a car wash. Later, it may have been a muffler. Please feel free to verify items and dates.

Not long after Big Mike was settling into his new digs, he was given an anonymous gift. On a Monday morning, workers arriving at Bell Plastics found a package left out in front. Inside was a 104-inch ax for Big Mike.

“It looks brand-new,” Kennedy said.

Sadly, Big Mike has not been able to hold onto his new gift. The ax handle is too wide for one of Mike’s hands, Kennedy said. So the ax has been relegated to the custom plastics’ front office, at least for now, where it shares space with 6-foot-tall human statues from China.

If you want to see the big dude, he’s at 2020 National Ave., off Clawiter Road.


Larry and the ducks

HAYWARD — The Hayward Rotary Club, like its counterparts throughout the country, playfully fines its members during its weekly meetings to help raise money for the organization.

Fines are routinely levied for birthdays and vacations. But the club gets creative, customizing fines for targeted individuals.

One of those “lucky” individuals at Monday’s meeting was Larry Lepore, Hayward Area Recreation and Parks District parks superintendent.

Hayward Rotary President Brian Schott noted that Lepore had closed a bathroom at the Duck Pond, aka the San Lorenzo Community Park.

“Where are the poor ducks going to go to the bathroom now?” Schott asked.

“Where they’ve been going for 40 years,” Lepore replied, trying to defend himself by adding that the district had installed portable toilets.

Schott countered that the poor little ducks were not taught how to use them, and fined Lepore $10.

HARD is replacing the old restrooms with ones that meet ADA standards. Lepore said later that the new restrooms could be open as early as this weekend.


Hayward park district is hiring fishing naturalist

HAYWARD – If you like to fish and are good with people, especially children, the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District may have a job for you.

The district is hiring a naturalist to coordinate its popular shoreline fishing program, including leading summer fish camps for youth and weekend fishing programs for adults and families.

Application deadline is April 19. Applications can be picked up and delivered to the HARD office, 1099 E St., Hayward, CA 94541, attention: Adrienne De Ponte. They also can be downloaded at www.haywardrec.org. For more information, contact De Ponte at 510-670-7270.


Historical society honors individuals, organizations

HAYWARD — The Hayward Area Historical Society is honoring five people and organizations for preserving the area’s past.

Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley is being given the historic business award. Called Eden Hospital when it was founded in 1954, it is being honored for its years in the community and for renewing its presence with a new facility, which opened late last year.

Rowell Ranch Rodeo of Castro Valley is the winner of the historic organization award. Rancher Harry Rowell held the first rodeo on his Dublin Canyon property more than 90 years ago, but for several years, the rodeo was held at Burbank School in Hayward. It is now back at the ranch, along Interstate 580.

A historic preservation award is being given to Michael and Julie Sundita for maintaining their early 20th-century home on Pinedale Court in Hayward.

Cheryl Gerard of Lea’s Christian School in Hayward is the society’s teacher of the year. Lea is being recognized for her efforts to make history come to life, and taking part in the society’s tours of McConaghy House, downtown walking tours, and discovery kits and online classroom resources.

Betty Moose of San Lorenzo is the recipient of the John Sandoval Award, which is given for outstanding volunteer service. Moose is president of the San Lorenzo Heritage Society, which strives to preserve and document the historic community.

Personal comment: Betty, as she seems to prefer being called, is an amazing, cheerful, energetic person. She’s in her 80s, but her mind is sharp, and she’s always at meetings, looking out for the best interests of her community.

The awards will be given at the society’s gala April 26 at Stonebrae Country Club. Tickets are $85 for historical society members, $95 non-members. Tables of eight are available for $650 for members, $730 for non-members.

For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Alison Wenz at 510-581-0223 or alison@haywardareahistory.org.


What should Kennedy, Fairmont Terrace parks look like in the future?

HAYWARD — The Hayward Area Recreation and Parks District is considering what some of its parks should be in the future. Next up: popular Kennedy Park in Hayward and not as well-known Fairmont Terrace in unincorporated San Leandro/Ashland depending on your definition.

A community meeting to discuss Fairmont Terrace Park’s master plan will take place at 7 p.m. April 10 at the Epiphany Lutheran Church, 16248 Carolyn St., San Leandro.

On April 11, HARD directors will hold a work session on Kennedy Park’s master plan. Residents are encouraged to attend. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the HARD administration building, 1099 E St., Hayward.

Representatives of the master plan architects, RRM Design Group, will be at both meetings.

If preliminary drawings become available, I will post. It will be interesting to see recommendations for Kennedy, which already is often at capacity on weekends.

The master plan for the Duck Pond in San Lorenzo, adopted last year, calls for a pond about a third of the size of the current one and in a different location in the park. The changes won’t occur overnight; they will likely take years, especially considering the tight fiscal times. But it is a document to guide district decisions.

So if you have opinions, now is the time to voice them.

For more information, call 510-881-6715 or email parkdept@haywardrec.org.
Those who cannot attend can mail written comments to the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, 1099 E St., Hayward, CA 94541.


Swalwell sightings

Congressman Eric Swalwell has been popping up in the area lately. He held a press conference March 9 on B Street in downtown Hayward to talk about his proposed small-business tax-relief legislation, the first bill he has introduced since taking office in January.

On March 23, he led a short bike ride through San Lorenzo and Hayward.

His latest? This past Monday, he tagged along with a Lake Chabot park ranger as part of his “In Your Shoes” monthly events. He was photographed driving a cart and talking with a ranger about improvements that were made to make the park more accessible for those with disabilities.


Julian’s BBQ, Beer & Wine ribbon-cutting on Thursday

HAYWARD — Julian’s BBQ, Beer & Wine will have a ribbon-cutting by the Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, March 28.

The restaurant has live jazz on the weekends, and plans call for expanding to other nights.

It has been open with limited hours for several months. Its owner, Keith Burks, is also founder of BJK’s Rib Factory of Bethel Island, Team Rib Factory Catering of Concord and Team Rib Factory of Walnut Creek.

Outdoor seating is planned for the front and side of the restaurant, which is between A and B streets on the east side of Foothill. On the side of the restaurant in the breezeway, an outdoor stage has been built.

New front windows can be slid open during warmer weather, much like restaurants along University in Palo Alto.

Workers are finishing up the renovated facade, which has new lighting.

On the same block, Chalk It Up! billiards parlor has been renovated and is getting a new entrance. Cyclepath has redone its display windows, and a new sign is coming soon. A few doors down from Julians’s, Doc’s Wine and Cheese Revival opened late last year and features a certified sommelier.


New exhibit at City Hall gallery

HAYWARD — A new exhibit is going up at the John O’Lague Galleria at Hayward City Hall.

Beginning March 29, the gallery will be presenting Mark Mertens’s pastels. The public is invited to a reception at 5:30-7:30 p.m. April 5 at the gallery, 777 B St.

Mertens, of Castro Valley, has won several art awards.

Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, please call the Hayward Arts Council Office at 510-538-2787.

Mark Mertens’ seeks to capture the effects of light on color and realism. His work is rooted in realist traditions, careful draftsmanship and observation. Beginning with a loose sketch done in warm colors of hard pastels the final layer consists of rich, soft pastels that are directly applied.
Mertens is the recipient of many local art awards, is a signature member of the Pastel Society of the West Coast and studied landscapes with Duane Wakehan and Clark Mitchell. He resides in Castro Valley.


Girding for the Hayward traffic loop

The city of Hayward has started its campaign to let people know that some downtown streets will become one-way on March 15.

The city hired someone to put together an explainer that is going in water bills and is online. It contains some interesting statements: “The Loop is easy!” “The Loop is a small change with a BIG new look for Downtown!” “Easy Access to all Downtown Businesses.” Hmmm.

There also is a typo in the insert that was sent out to many water customers and on big signs along Mission Boulevard between A and B and near the main library: It refers to Off the Gird. As gourmet food truck followers know, that should be Off the Grid.

In fairness, a Hayward official said the typo was pointed out by city staff. But apparently not soon enough.

The city also has made a video explaining the loop. It has little colored cars speeding through downtown with cheerful music in the background. The voice-over refers to “the downtown one-way traffic circulation, or the ‘loop’ as it’s more affectionately called.” Gosh, I can’t remember the loop and “affectionately” being used in the same sentence.

Check it out at www.youtube.com/watch?v=09hSr8GlPq4&feature=youtu.be. There’s also a link at http://user.govoutreach.com/hayward/faq.php?cid=14252, but I couldn’t get it to load.

(Sorry, but I have not been able to get links to work on this blog. Working on it.)

Starting March 15, Foothill will be one-way north between its intersection with Jackson Street-Mission Boulevard up to A Street. A will be one-way west between Foothill and Mission, and Mission will be one-way south from A down to the Jackson-Mission-Foothill intersection.


Mountain climber to give talk in Castro Valley

CASTRO VALLEY — A Castro Valley High graduate who became a mountaineer will share some of his adventures March 15.

Marty Schmidt, who now lives in New Zealand, is a certified mountain climber and guide. He has ascended some of hte world’s highest peaks without bottled oxygen.

He will be showing some photographs and talk about his climbs on Mount Everest, Makalu, Gasherbrum 1 and 2, and other peaks.

Schmidt’s presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Castro Valley Center for the Arts, 19501 Redwood Road.