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Archive for September, 2009

Surprise in Joe Loudon case

After months of questions as to why the prescription drug papaverine was found in the body of Joe Loudon, a surprise came today. The Northern California Transplant Bank put the drug into Loudon’s body to help blood flow during the harvesting of his organs, shortly after his death.

The blood samples taken from Loudon’s body were taken after the NCTB had already put the drug in.

Questions now arise as to the real cause of Loudon’s death. The inital cause of death was that the combination of the drug and the small amount of alcohol in his system caused him to choke on his own vomit.

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
Under: Crime, Orinda, Schools | No Comments »

Hearing for Hacienda

Mayor Dave Trotter and others have pointed out to me that there will indeed be a public hearing about staff’s move back to the Hacienda at the Town Council’s Sept. 23 meeting.

Trotter said the council scheduled the hearing because they wanted to address this issue as soon as possible.

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
Under: Moraga | No Comments »

Upcoming events in Lamorinda

The last of three trial Farmers Markets in Lafayette will take place this Thursday, Sept. 17, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., in Lafayette’s Plaza Park.

Also on Thursday, Sept. 17, POISE (Parents of Orinda Individuals in Special Education) will be having their fall “kick-off” meeting, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., at Orinda Books. Author Laura Shumaker will be on hand to read from her book, A Regular Guy, and to discuss raising her children.

On Sunday, Oct. 11, starting at 4:30 p.m., the Orinda Community Center Park will be hosting an opera concert presented by Open Opera. A variety of singers will be performing opera classics. The event is free, and those attending are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner to enjoy.

Posted on Monday, September 14th, 2009
Under: Lafayette, Music, Orinda | No Comments »

Local high school football teams all get a win

The Campolindo football team dominated all parts of their game against Mt. Eden High School, winning their Friday night match-up, 42-7. The defense held Mt. Eden to only 88 total yards and returned an interception for a touchdown. The Cougars also managed to get another touchdown on a punt return. The Cougars improved their record to 2-0.

The Miramonte football team also improved to 2-0 on the season. The Matadors traveled to Novato to play San Marin High School, who they beat 42-0.

Acalanes managed their first football victory of the young season, beating Justin-Siena by a score of 35-20. The Dons are 1-1 on the season.

Posted on Sunday, September 13th, 2009
Under: Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Schools, Sports | No Comments »

Students in shock as teacher arrested at Miramonte

Miramonte High School students were in shock Thursday as one of the school’s English teachers, Mark Litton, was arrested on the school’s Orinda campus.

Litton was arrested by police on suspicion of having sex with one of his students who was a minor at the time. He is currently being held in the County Jail in Martinez on $250,000 bail.

Current and former students of Litton are outraged with the claims and are posting comments supporting him on social networking websites.

This news comes less than two years after James Toland, a music teacher at all three Lamorinda high schools, was accused of molesting some of his underage male students.

Posted on Friday, September 11th, 2009
Under: Crime, Orinda, Schools | 1 Comment »

Moraga intersection getting a roundabout?

Drivers in Moraga have been complaining for years about the intersection of Rheem Boulevard and St. Mary’s Road. Drivers trying to turn on to St. Mary’s Road often have a difficult time seeing cars coming in either direction, particularly when another car is trying to turn the opposite direction on St. Mary’s Road.

The Moraga Traffic Safety Advisory Committee has proposed putting a roundabout in place at that intersection to make turning onto St. Mary’s Road easier and to also combat speeding drivers.

The estimated cost to construct the roundabout is over $500,000. As a result, the odds of the roundabout being constructed anytime soon are slim.

Posted on Thursday, September 10th, 2009
Under: Moraga, Roads | 2 Comments »

The Hacienda debate continues

Despite this being the era of the Internet and instant news, my story on the backlash to Moraga staff’s impending move to the Hacienda didn’t run until this morning (it was written last week). Nothing in it has been rendered irrelevant, but the topic came up twice at last night’s Town Council meeting.

The first was during public comment, when George Fisher, Judy Dinkle and others requested a full public hearing on the matter. The second came during an agenda item awarding a contract to do construction and repair work at the Hacienda (much of it related to the fire earlier this year).

Opponents of the move maintain the Hacienda should be retained for purely community-oriented uses. Some also brought up the danger posed by having all town offices in a building that has recently seen a fire in an area surrounded by eucalyptus trees. One even said it was illegal to use recreational facilities for non-recreational uses. The town’s attorney did not know whether or not that was true.

After several comments during the agenda item discussion, Councilman Mike Metcalf politely reminded everyone that the issue at hand was not the town’s move to the Hacienda, but whether or not the contract would be awarded, which it ultimately was.

Town Manager Mike Segrest did clarify somewhat his estimate of three-to-five years for staff to move back to 329 Rheem. He said if a cost estimate were to be completed by the time next year’s budget was put together, and if money was available for the renovation, the Rheem could be a town hall by late 2011 or early 2012, although he added that timeline is extremely optimistic.

There’s no indication yet of when a another public hearing on the move to the Hacienda will be held (the Parks and Recreation Commission discussed the issue last month, but move opponents say that discussion was arranged too quickly for anyone to know about it).

Posted on Thursday, September 10th, 2009
Under: Moraga | 1 Comment »

Orinda BART station elevator out of service

The elevator at the Orinda BART station will be out of service from Monday, Sept. 14, to Wednesday, Sept. 16.  BART crews are putting the elevator out of service in order to make upgrades to the elevator’s communication system.

BART is suggesting that passengers who require the use of the elevator in order to reach the platform should plan on using the Lafayette station during that three-day period.

There is a possibility the elevators will be out of service beyond Wednesday, Sept. 16. There is a hotline to call to get an update on whether the elevators are back in service. The number for that hotline is (888) 235-3828.

Posted on Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
Under: Orinda | No Comments »

KKK cross shows up on Moraga driveway

A three-foot tall cross wrapped in white material with the letters “KKK” written on it showed up in the driveway of a Moraga home on Wandel Drive Monday morning.

David Newhoff, the man who found the cross, was visiting his parents’ home with his wife, Tni Newhoff. Tni is black, which the Newhoffs believe is the reason for the cross.

There is no evidence yet whether this is a tasteless prank by teenagers or an action with a more racist meaning, but the Moraga Police Department and FBI are hoping to find out as both are investigating the appearance of the cross. The FBI’s hate crimes division is working on the case after the Newhoffs reported it.

For more information about this story as it is released, read the Times story here:

Posted on Tuesday, September 8th, 2009
Under: Crime, Moraga | No Comments »

Theater in Lamorinda

The Lafayette Town Hall Theatre Company is currently presenting the play “Art” by Yasmina Reza. The play is running now through Oct. 3. There is a performance each Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. On Sundays, there is a matinee performance at 2:00 p.m. and a night performance at 7:00 p.m. For more information, visit

The California Shakespeare Theater in Orinda is getting ready to begin its run of performing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which will run from Sept. 16 to Oct. 11. Performances of the play are Tuesdays through Saturdays, starting at either 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. Sunday performances begin at 4:00 p.m. For more information, visit

Posted on Monday, September 7th, 2009
Under: Lafayette, Orinda | No Comments »