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Archive for September, 2010

Moraga Pear Festival coming up

The 2010 Moraga Pear Festival will take place at the Moraga Commons on Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The festival will have a variety of entertainment, activities and contests for adults, kids and families throughout the day.

The feature contest of the festival is the Pear Recipe Contest. Entries into the contest must be delivered by noon and include the recipe, the cook’s contact information, and, of course, a sample of the food item. Winners will be announced at 1:00 p.m.

There will also be a children’s coloring contest with entires being accepted until 1:30 p.m and winners being announced at 2:30 p.m.

Pear pies will be for sale throughout the day.

Posted on Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

2010 Orinda Idol winners

A crowd at the Orinda Theatre enjoyed an aftern0on full of music Sunday, as the Orinda Idol finalists competed to be named 2010 Orinda Idol.

The individual winners in each category of the 2010 Orinda Idol competition are Alex Meckes (Kindergarten-2nd grade), Ryan Ford (3rd-5th grade), Madison Wheeler (Middle School) and Steven Patton (High School).

The group Glasses & Glam won the Kindergarten-5th grade group competition. That group consists of Samantha Martin and Jackie Patton. Jacqueline Garell, Amrita Newton, Neris Newton, Katie Marino, Paige Powell and Sofie Woodlee, who make up the group SPJANK!, won the 6th-12th grade group competition.

Madison Wheeler also earned the Audience Award.

Posted on Monday, September 13th, 2010
Under: Lamorinda, Music, Orinda | No Comments »

State test results out, Lamorinda districts do well

The latest Academic Performance Index, or API, results are out from the state, and, not surprisingly, Lamorinda schools continue to score high. The scores are based on STAR testing and the high school exit exam. The state has set a target of 800 (out of 1,000) for all schools.

Here’s how Lamorinda breaks down:

Acalanes Union High School District:

  • 2010: 899
  • 2009: 897

Lafayette School District:

  • 2010: 922
  • 2009: 917

Moraga School District:

  • 2010: 945
  • 2009: 943

Orinda Union School District (the highest-scoring district in the county, according to my colleague Theresa Harrington):

  • 2010: 954
  • 2009: 954

Check back here later today for Theresa’s story highlighting results from around the county. I’ll have a Lamorinda story later in the week.

Posted on Monday, September 13th, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Schools | No Comments »

Lafayette Art & Wine Festival

The 15th Annual Lafayette Art & Wine Festival will take place next weekend in downtown Lafayette. The festival is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 18, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 19, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

There will be more than 250 arts and crafts booths to go along with wine, beer and food vendors. Live entertainment will be provided throughout the festival on three different stages. There will also be a designated kids area where kids can participate in a variety of activities and enjoy some entertainment of their own.

Over 50,000 people attended last year’s festival, and organizers believe that number could grow this year.

Posted on Sunday, September 12th, 2010
Under: Lafayette | No Comments »

High school football update

The Campolindo football team improved to 2-0 on the season after a dominating performance against Mt. Eden on Friday night. After jumping out to a 35-0 lead, the Cougars did give up two fourth-quarter touchdowns to win 35-14. The Cougars next game is against El Cerrito at home on Friday.

Acalanes also went to 2-0 on the season after squeezing out a 10-6 win over Hayward in a defensive battle. The star was Acalanes running back Joe Dreyer, who ran for 151 yards, while the Dons’ offense only gained 249 yards as a team. The Dons play San Marin at home on Friday night.

Miramonte faced off with Fortuna tonight, earning a 35-21 win. The game was close until the fourth quarter when the Matadors outscored Fortuna, 14-0. Miramonte plays their next game on the road on Saturday against Mission San Jose.

Posted on Saturday, September 11th, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Schools, Sports | No Comments »

Settlement reached in Cal Poly hazing case

A settlement has been reached between the families of Haithem Ibrahim, of Lafayette, and Carson Starkey, a Cal Poly student who died as a result of hazing involving Ibrahim and other fraternity members. Ibrahim’s family will pay Starkey’s family $500,000 in the settlement.

Ibrahim also received a sentence of 45 days in county jail, as a result of pleading no contest to misdemeanor hazing charges in the criminal case.

The 2008 incident brought hazing by fraternities front and center once again. Starkey died after ingesting enough alcohol to soar his blood-alcohol content to over .40. Starkey was an 18-year-old freshman being ordered to drink the alcohol as part of a pledge event.

Posted on Friday, September 10th, 2010
Under: Crime, Lafayette | No Comments »

Lamorinda weekend reading

In case you missed it:

The Moraga Planning Commission essentially comes to a stalemate on a proposed Dollar Tree and passes the ball to a subcommittee.

Orinda backs off parts of its new sign ordinance after concerns are raised it may limit free speech.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development rejects Lafayette’s housing element again.

The lawyer for a man accused in a fatal 2007 car crash in Lafayette says a medical condition led to the collision.

We’ve got profiles of OUSD governing board candidates Tyson Krumholz, Christopher Severson and Julie Rossiter. The final two coming next week. (And hopefully candidates of the other 54,845 seven races I have to cover soon as well.)

Posted on Friday, September 10th, 2010
Under: Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Schools | No Comments »

Trail construction starts; Lafayette Community Center gets some upgrades

Construction of the Murray Lane Trail has officially started, despite criticism from some neighbors in the area. The trail, which will be approximately a half mile long, will span from Murray Lane in the Burton Valley neighborhood to the Lafayette Community Center. Construction of the trail is costing over $300,000 with funds coming from Measures WW and AA.

There has also construction at the Lafayette Community Center as part of their Cedar Room renovation project. New windows, handicapped ramps, HVAC and electrical upgrades were all recently installed. The walls of the Lafayette Community Center were also recently painted.

Posted on Thursday, September 9th, 2010
Under: Lafayette | No Comments »

OUSD election profile: Julie Rossiter

Julie Rossiter 2010.jpgThird in our series of profiles of candidates for the Orinda Union School District governing board.

Julie Rossiter has lived in Orinda for six years. She is a lawyer, although she is not currently practicing, and has volunteered in the schools in a number of capacities in recent years. She is currently the Del Rey legislative representative to the Las Trampas Creek Council and has also served as treasurer for the Del Rey annual fund and the Measure A representative to Del Rey. She has three children: a son, 12, and two daughters, 10 and 4.

Rossiter said she attended public schools growing up on Long Island in New York and that her mother was a librarian. She’ll have children in the district until 2020, she said, and “I’m a concerned parent trying to make a difference in my kid’s education.”

The biggest issue facing the district, she said, is the budget (no surprise there). Orinda is fortunate because of all the local funding it gets through donations and parcel taxes, she said, but the board’s most difficult task is always trying to provide the best possible education while coping with budget cuts.

When it comes to solving the budget problem, Rossiter said nothing should be taken off the table, including another parcel tax.

“I don’t think anybody wants to go out and (ask for) more taxes and money,” she said, but the reality is Orinda is one of the worst-funded districts in one of the worst-funded states. Despite that, she added, it still manages to be one of the best districts in the state.

“I do think when you’re looking at cuts try to keep it as far away from the classroom as possible,” Rossiter said. The board should look at ways to increase its operating efficiencies as well as pursue federal and state grants, she said.

Because there will be so many new faces on the board, Rossiter said, it’s important to bring in the best people possible. She said her experience as an attorney means she has strong analytical skills and the ability to process large amounts of information. And even though there will be three new board members, those that remain have a great deal of knowledge, she said.

“I’m excited about running and I look forward to serving on the board and trying to maintain the great education in Orinda that our students are receiving,” Rossiter said.

Profiles of Tyson Krumholz and Christopher Severson. Upcoming profiles: Bekki Van Voorhis-Gilbert and Sarah Butler.

Posted on Thursday, September 9th, 2010
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

OUSD election profile: Christopher Severson

Chris Severson 2010The second in my hope-to-have-them-all-up-by-early-next-week series profiling candidates for the Orinda Union School District governing board.

Orinda is a familiar place to Christopher Severson. The ER physician has lived in the city since he was six, except for a few years for college and medical school. If the last name sounds familiar, that’s because his mother, Sue Severson, is on the Orinda City Council and previously served on the OUSD board.

Christopher Severson, 36, and his wife, Pam, five children between the ages of 11 and nine months. He said he’s served in the schools as a volunteer, primarily as chairman of the triennial Orinda Family Science Night in 2008.

Severson said he wasn’t planning on running for school board, but others approached him about it and he decided it was a good way to get involved in his childrens’ education. Like the other four candidates, he said the budget is the most important issue facing the district right now.

The fact that the district is at the mercy of the state when it comes to funding, he said, puts it in a tough position. If cuts have to be made, he said, they should be kept away from the classroom. And regardless, when it comes to increasing class size, Severson said he’s not sure if there’s a whole lot of bang for the district’s buck there.

“I don’t think you can increase class size and all of a sudden have all the money you need,” he said.

Although the administrative staff has already been cut, he said the district may have to take a look at scaling back even more, as well as re-evaluating its facilities and maintenance budget, perhaps delaying noncritical repairs until the economy improves.

The district’s parcel tax has helped shield it from more drastic cuts, Severson said.

“We’ve had a little bit of buffer so the cuts we’ve had to make have not been as grave as the could be,” he said. And, at least for now, he’s not supportive of an additional parcel tax. But he did qualify that by saying if the recession continues, and with few other ways to raise revenue, the district may have to look at that option.

Asked about serving on a board with so many new members, Severson said he thinks the impact will be low, especially because the two remaining board members and Superintendent Joe Jaconette have a lot of experience.

And he’s not planning– at least right now — on following his mother’s path to the city council chambers. He said he prefers to avoid politics, and while he’s passionate about schools, he doesn’t have much of a passion for city issues.

Profile of Tyson Krumholz here. Upcoming profiles: Julie Rossiter, Bekki Van Voorhis-Gilbert and Sarah Butler.

Posted on Thursday, September 9th, 2010
Under: Orinda, Schools | No Comments »