With permission from the Mt. Diablo school district’s Community Advisory Committee blog, I am reposting information about an Asperger’s presentation tonight at Valle Verde Elementary:
“April-Autism Awareness Month Event at Valle Verde
As part of Autism Awareness Month, Valle Verde will be hosting a special presentation on Thursday, April 26 at 6:30pm in the Multi-Use Room. Dr. Kathryn Stewart, a clinical psychologist and author based in Walnut Creek, will share information on students with Asperger’s Disorder, its effect on social and academic functioning, and implications for intervention. Dr. Stewart, founder of the Orion Academy in Moraga, published a book in 2002 entitled Helping Children with NLD or Asperger’s Syndrome: A Parent’s Guide and is an adjunct professor at The Wright Institute in Berkley. All interested parties are welcome to attend.”
The school is at 3275 Peachwillow Lane in Walnut Creek.
Do you believe the district provides adequate services for students with Asperger’s Disorder?
High school jazz musicians will converge at Northgate High in Walnut Creek today and Saturday for a jazz festival hosted by the school. Here are the details, which I’m reposting from the Times:
“Walnut Creek’s Northgate hosts jazz festival starting Friday
By Elisabeth Nardi
Contra Costa Times
School bands from all around Contra Costa County will gather at Northgate High School over the next two days for the California Association for Music Education Jazz East Festival 2012.
The two-day school jazz band festival starts at 3 p.m. Friday with a performance from Acalanes High School’s Jazz Band. Following them, bands from various schools around the county play for about 25 minutes each, the day ends with Albany High School Jazz Band at 9:25 p.m.
Then on Saturday the day kicks off at 8 a.m. with Rancho Medanos Junior High Jazz Ensemble. Saturday ends with the Pittsburg High Jazz Ensemble at 4:25 p.m.
The schools compete against one another to win awards at the festival, which will be held at Northgate High, 425 Castle Rock Road in Walnut Creek.
Today, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and Walnut Creek City Councilman Kish Rajan sent the following letter to the Mt. Diablo school board regarding the Clayton Valley High charter petition:
“October 25, 2011
The Honorable Gary L. Eberhart
and Members of the Mount Diablo Unified School District Board
1936 Carlotta Drive
Concord, CA 94519
Dear President Eberhart,
We are writing to urge the Board to take action on the Clayton Valley Charter High School (CVCHS) conversion petition on November 8th so that teachers, parents and students can adequately plan for the 2012/13 school year. We want to applaud the tireless efforts of the CVCHS Steering Committee and District staff as they have met repeatedly to address all of the outstanding issues necessary for approval. We understand that almost all of the conditions have been met and that District staff is finalizing their analysis and preparing to make a recommendation to the board.
As elected officials representing many students throughout the Mount Diablo Unified School District, we also encourage the Board to request a district wide financial impact analysis by a respected independent organization, such as the Financial Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT), independent of the approval of the CVCHS conversion process, so that the Board and the community better understand how to prepare for the financial future of the District.
We are proud of how passionately our community continues to support our teachers and students. We know that this has been a difficult process and have been encouraged by the work completed by the CVCHS Steering Committee and District staff.
As we all work together to support the teachers, parents and students in our community, we believe that a transparent district wide conversation regarding the future of the entire community is essential to a responsible way forward.
Mark DeSaulnier, Senator, 7th District
Susan Bonilla, Assemblymember, 11th District
Kish Rajan, City of Walnut Creek, Councilmember”
During his speech at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta highlighted Kathy Strong, a Walnut Creek resident who wore an MIA bracelet for 38 years, as an example of someone who lived up to the words: You are not forgotten.”
Strong removed the bracelet before the funeral of James Moreland, whose name it bore were found.
Here is what Panetta said:
“Distinguished guests, veterans, wounded warriors, senior leaders of the Department, let me express to you how I honored I am to be here on this solemn day. This is my first opportunity as the new Secretary of Defense to pay tribute to the POW/MIA community.
I’d like to especially recognize the representatives of that community, former prisoners of war, and the families of the missing in action, all of whom have joined us here this morning. Today as we honor those who have been imprisoned and those missing while defending our nation, we also honor their family members, the brave men and women who have kept those memories of their loved ones burning bright and who have never stopped, never stopped, pushing this nation and its leaders for the closure that they deserve.
Forty years ago, during the Vietnam War, it was the wife of a missing service member, a young woman named Mary Hoff, who realized that a symbol was needed to remind us of his plight; to remind us of all our service members who were missing or suffering at the hands of foreign captors. She developed the idea of a flag, with a haunting image designed by a World War II pilot, that would eventually become a national emblem.
It is the only flag, aside from Old Glory, that has flown above the White House. In 1989, it was installed in the Capitol rotunda as a symbol of this nation’s commitment to fully account for those that are still missing. I was a member of Congress at that time, and was so inspired by the flag and by what it stood for that I introduced legislation to require that it be flown at U.S. diplomatic posts and military installations worldwide.
What moved me and so many others about this flag was not only the stark design, but the message inscribed across the bottom of that flag: ‘You are Not Forgotten.’ Today, we reaffirm that sacred pledge: ‘You are Not Forgotten.’ We voice an entire nation’s unending support and our undying promise that, no matter how long it takes, no matter what it takes, we will not stop until we have brought every American home. We pledge that we leave no one behind.
Over the years, slowly, methodically, we have been making progress in this effort. Six hundred men and women of this Department – military and civilian, investigators and scientists – work tirelessly around the world to fully account for the more than 80,000 American service members who remain unaccounted for from last century’s conflicts. This is painstaking work, carried out in the field and in laboratories here at home.
Because of these efforts, the remains of 98 missing American service members have been identified in the past year – 25 from the Vietnam War, 36 from the Korean War, 36 from World War II, and one from World War I. That’s 98 more families who now have closure, and the knowledge that their nation did not forget them, did not let the passage of time dampen our resolve to locate and identify their loved ones.
No other country, no other country, has devoted so much energy and so many resources to account for our fallen. We do this because we believe that every life is precious, and because those who put their lives on the line for this country need to know that we will spare no effort to bring them home. Today I make to you the promise, as Secretary of Defense, we will do everything we can to bring them home. A promise I make not only to the families of the missing and captured, but to all of our men and women serving in harms’ way around the world.
In the wars of this century, we are blessed by the fact that fewer Americans are missing, fewer have been taken as prisoners, and fewer families have had to wait for their return. Still, as we gather here, three DoD contractors are missing and two soldiers are being held captive in Iraq and Afghanistan – Staff Sergeant Ahmed Altaie, captured in Iraq in October 2006, and Sergeant Bowe Bergdalh, captured in Afghanistan in June of 2009.
This morning, we gather here and again call for their release and reiterate our commitment to bring all missing Americans home. That commitment, simple yet sacred, is fundamental to the values of our nation and, in turn, to our military. And as we raise the POW/MIA flag in communities across America, we pledge to live by its creed, You are Not Forgotten, not only today, but every day.
Around the time that flag came into existence so did POW/MIA bracelets, each bearing the name of a soldier being held as prisoner or missing in action in the Vietnam War. In 1972, a 12 year-old from California named Kathy Strong got one of those bracelets in her Christmas stocking. On it was the name of Sergeant James Moreland, an Army Green Beret who had gone missing four years earlier. And on that Christmas morning, that 12 year-old girl decided she would wear that bracelet until James Moreland came home, until she could hand it to him in person.
Kathy Strong wore that bracelet for 38 years, unsure if she would ever take it off. Then, early this year, 43 years after he went missing, James Moreland’s sisters got word that their brother’s remains had been found and that, at long last – through the tireless efforts of DoD personnel – he had been identified. Sergeant Moreland’s sisters invited Kathy to the funeral in May. And there she took off her bracelet and put it on Sergeant Moreland’s uniform.
Kathy Strong should inspire us all. For it should not just be a few among us that help families carry the torch year after year, decade after decade for those who are missing; it needs to be all of us. It should be all of us who as one family, and one nation pledge on this day, and every day, that for as long as it takes to bring every American home, we will never stop working, we will never stop searching, and we will never stop thinking of those lost warriors. We will never forget those who have sacrificed for our freedoms and our values. That is why this country is the greatest country on earth.
May God bless those who have lost their dear ones, may God bless their families, and may God bless this great nation of ours. Thank you.”
Walnut Creek reporter Elisabeth Nardi has posted the following News Brief about a fundraiser to benefit a local student:
“The Indian Valley and Walnut Creek Intermediate community is coming together to put on a flea market and bake sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 31, to benefit the Taylor Brown AVM Charity Fund, set up assist the Brown family with medical expenses.
Taylor, an 11-year-old girl, will be attending Walnut Creek Intermediate in the fall. Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is an abnormal connection between veins and arteries, usually congenital.
The flea market and bake sale will be held in the school district parking lot, 960 Ygnacio Valley Road. For more information on the event, contact Tari Peckham at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Eugene Ballock, a former principal of Lafayette, Orinda and Walnut Creek schools, has died.
When Eugene Ballock took on his role as principal of Del Valle High School in Walnut Creek, he was delighted, recalls his daughter, Kim Johnson.
“He was so proud of Del Valle High School when he got there,” she said, as she reminisced about her father, who died July 3. “It was beautiful. It was the newest school in the (Acalanes Union High School) district, even though it was 25 years old.”
Many years later, in retirement, Ballock returned to the school (which was closed and used by the city) for recreational activities, she said.
“We always said it was ironic that he ended up moving to Rossmoor,” she said. “He would go swimming at the Del Valle pool.”
He was married to Lois Ballock, who was a nurse at John Muir Medical Center, for 58 years.
Here’s a brief synopsis of Ballock’s career from the family’s obituary notice:
“In 1963, Eugene’s family moved north and he became principal of Inland Valley Intermediate School in Orinda. He was also principal of Stanley Intermediate School and Fairview Intermediate School in Lafayette.
Eugene was the final principal of Del Valle High School in Walnut Creek. He became principal of Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek in 1979 and retired in 1989. During his retirement he was Student Teacher Advisor for Chapman University.”
Since her parents didn’t have a lot of money, the family regularly visited the Pleasant Hill library, Johnson said.
“He checked out books on every subject matter you can imagine,” she said. “He was a real history buff. So, in his retirement — and throughout his life — he collected books. He had an eclectic collection that included books about President Lincoln and World War II and the Civil War and fighter pilot jets. He loved aviation. He went to his last book club meeting a couple weeks before he died.”
Ballock also loved golf, camping, fishing and his career, his daughter said. Many of his retirement golf buddies were former principals of schools such as Campolindo and Miramonte High, she said. Some were former teachers who had worked for him.
“It’s like none of them had time to play golf in the real (working) world,” she said. “They were all his friends.”
Johnson said she was incredibly touched by the comments that many of his past students have written in the online guest book that accompanies his family obituary.
“As his daughter, you don’t see your dad in the same perspective that other people saw him,” she said. “I knew he was a good man. I knew he was honest and loyal to a fault and had excellent character.”
But, she also knew him as the dad who sometimes irritated her because he wouldn’t let her sleep in on weekends. The comments, she said, gave her a stronger appreciation for how he touched others in life-changing ways.
“I have a friend and she had him at Fairview, Del Valle, Las Lomas,” Johnson said. “She said she didn’t have a good relationship with her own father and he (Ballock) was the first man she ever respected in her whole life. He made such an impact on her life.”
Another former student commented: “Mr. Ballock was a ‘good egg,’” Johnson said. “That’s true. He respected the law. He knew what was right and what was wrong. He was a man of great dignity.”
But, Ballock also had a fun side, Johnson recalled.
“He had a great sense of humor,” she said. “He told stupid jokes all the time.”
Johnson said her father stood out in the memories of many past students, including one who recognized him when the family was vacationing in Canada.
“They remembered him and he remembered a lot of kids’ names too,” she said. “Not just the good ones and the bad ones, he remembered the ones in the middle too.”
Ballock’s health took a turn for the worse after surgery on his stomach five years ago, Johnson said.
“He had been battling complications from that,” she said. “The last year was a struggle for him for sure. He’s the one who didnt’ get the memo he was dying. He just wanted to be here.”
When a minister recently asked Ballock what he was most proud of, Johnson said he responded: his family.
“He was very proud that all three of us kids like each other and we get together and we take care of our mom and we took care of him,” Johnson said.
Even though her father bought lottery tickets every week, he never won, Johnson said.
“But I think he would say he won the lottery, because he had this great family,” she said. “The fact that we love each other — I think that made him most proud.”
The family expects about 300 to 400 people at his memorial service at 2 p.m. Saturday at Walnut Creek United Methodist Church, 1543 Sunnyvale Ave. in Walnut Creek.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to the Walnut Creek United Methodist Church Memorial Fund, 1543 Sunnyvale Avenue, Walnut Creek, CA 94597 or Hospice of the East Bay, 3470 Buskirk Avenue, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523.
Do you have memories of Eugene Ballock that you’d like to share?
Congratulations to Kate Anoufrieva, a Walnut Creek Intermediate eighth-grader, who represented Contra Costa County in the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Tuesday and Wednesday, after winning the county bee in March!
Although Kate didn’t advance to the semi-finals today (Thursday), her school is thrilled that she made it all the way to the national competition, where she competed against 274 of the top middle and high school spellers from around the country.
“We are just proud of Kate and her accomplishments and so proud of her representing WCI and the whole Walnut Creek school district,” said Kevin Collins, principal of Walnut Creek Intermediate. “I can’t rmember ever having a student from here going to the national bee. It’s just a tremendous honor for Kate and we are truly just so proud of her.”
Kate and her mother traveled to Maryland, where she took a written test consisting of 25 words on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, Kate participated in two preliminary spelling rounds, where she correctly spelled “aerobicize” and “Eocene” (a geologic time period.)
Judges selected 41 semi-finalists based on students’ performance on the written test, as well as the preliminary rounds. The bee didn’t release the results of the written test to the media, but representatives told me in a phone interview that Kate must have been eliminated based on her written test.
Kathy Strong holds a Special Forces Green Beret medallion in her Walnut Creek home.
For Kathy Strong, wearing an MIA bracelet for 38 years was an act of faith, as well as an act of patriotism.
She put the bracelet on at age 12 after receiving it in her Christmas stocking and promised to wear it until the soldier whose name it bore — James Moreland — came home.
At that time in the early 1970s, thousands of people throughout the country wore similar bracelets bearing the names of soldiers who were Prisoners of War or Missing in Action in Vietnam, through a program honoring the commitment not to forget them. Many people did see the soldiers return alive. For others, the remains were found and returned to their families.
As the years passed, most people removed the bracelets, considering them a fad. But not Strong. She kept her commitment and said she often thought about what that it would be like to meet Moreland.
On the 20th anniversary of the date Moreland was last seen alive in Lang Vei, Vietnam, Strong’s hometown newspaper in Sherman Oaks, Calif. published a story about Strong and her bracelet.
“I dream of him coming off the plane and there would be all these people waiting to see him,” then-28-year-old Strong told the Daily News on Feb. 7, 1988. “I’d be there, no matter where he was landing, no matter how much money it would take to get there. I’d go there to meet him.”
After that story was published, Strong said it was emotionally difficult for her to re-read it, because she feared her dream would never come true.
On the 40th anniversary of Moreland’s disappearance, I wrote a story for the Contra Costa Times about Strong and her bracelet. Thanks to the Internet, it reached Moreland’s sister in Washington state, who contacted me and asked to meet Strong.
For that story, I contacted Moreland’s commanding officer, Col. Paul Longgrear. After I told him that Strong said she would love to talk to him about Moreland, he also agreed to meet her.
Strong felt a much closer bond with Moreland after these meetings, and she continued to hope and pray that the military would one day discover some trace of what happened to him.
A few months ago, she saw a basket at her church containing small “impossible rose” prayer cards, with tiny fabric roses attached to them.
She took a card and wrapped the stem of the rose around her purse, praying for Moreland’s return. Later, when she heard that Moreland’s remains had been found, she brought that rose with her to Alabama, where the funeral was held.
When the plane with Moreland’s remains touched down, Strong was there to meet it.
“It didn’t turn out exactly as planned,” she said, recalling her earlier dreams of meeting Moreland alive. “But, I did get to meet him at the airport and I did get to see him come off the plane.”
She stood by as the coffin was loaded into the hearse.
“Before they closed the door, I said: ‘Wait!’” Strong recalled. “I just had to touch it, so it would be real that he was home. That was one of the most special parts of the whole weekend to me. That definitely seemed like an answer to a prayer.”
Strong’s sincere commitment to leaving the bracelet on for so long on has inspired many who have read about her in the newspaper or seen stories about her on the television news.
The story also brought back memories to a retired doctor, who played a key role in Strong’s ability to keep the bracelet on.
Dr. Daniel Morgan, an orthopedic surgeon in Fremont, let her wear the bracelet during wrist surgery in the summer of 1985.
“I wore my bracelet on my right wrist for about three months,” she said. “Dr. Morgan had me place my wrists together and then slid my bracelet from my left wrist onto my right wrist without my bracelet leaving my body.”
After seeing Strong’s story on CBS news earlier this month, he called her and said that fate played a role in their lives.
“He told me he was proud of me and that I was meant to be his patient and he was meant to be my doctor,” Strong said. “He allowed me to keep it on an extra 26 years.”
People who don’t know Strong are also proud of her. Her story seems to strike a chord with people because she embodies character traits that most people hold dear: faith, hope, love, honor, respect, integrity and patience.
When she attended Moreland’s funeral in Alabama, several people gave her mementos, such as Green Beret medallions, an embroidered pillowcase and a framed certificate from the Khe Sahn veterans commending her “unwavering vigil” for Moreland.
On behalf of the funeral Honor Guard, Chief Warrant Officer Chris Golling sent Strong an e-mail after the ceremony, expressing gratitude for her commitment to remembering Moreland.
“We are truly honored to have met you,” wrote Golling, who grew up in Oakland. “It touches each of us how you have held out hope all these years and honored SFC Moreland, a brother to us all. Thank you, Kathy.”
A retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant who served in Vietnam wrote to Strong from Lakewood, Wash., after reading about Strong and Moreland’s homecoming in the newspaper.
“I am not ashamed to tell you that I was overcome with deep emotion,” he wrote. “In part, it was because all such homecomings are tragic, and one cannot help but think, ‘that could have been me.’ But mainly, what brought tears to my eyes was the knowledge that there are still people in the world like you; people whose steadfast loyalty to, and honoring of, our fallen warriors is a most wonderously great and shining example to all.
May I therefore tell you how proud I am to claim you as a countrywoman of mine, and say that I, on my own and on behalf of many other veterans, feel humbled by such devotion? While in Vietnam, our military and our political leaders often referred to a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ as a simile for the resolution of that conflict. But in my mind, your 38 years of faithfulness to a code of remembrance far outshines anything they could have imagined. Thank you, Miss Strong.”
Strong is humbled by such praise for doing something she knew in her heart was right. And she is grateful that, in a way, she has been able to meet Moreland by meeting his family and those who served with him.
“My impossible prayer was answered,” she said.
Here is a video of her speaking about the experience:
Walnut Creek school district teachers rally outside City Hall on Tuesday.
As part of a “Week of Action” aimed at drawing attention to a “State of Emergency” in California education funding, teachers are rallying in streets, malls and at the capitol.
Several educators from the Walnut Creek School District and Contra Costa County gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday to voice their opposition to an “all cuts” state budget and urge the Legislature to approve tax extensions.
Speakers included CTA Vice President-elect Eric Heins, firefighter Vince Wells, state PTA education advocate Nancy Vandell of San Ramon, County Superintendent of Schools Joe Ovick, Lafayette School District Superintendent Fred Brill and Walnut Creek Teachers Association President Kandi Lancaster.
Here’s an excerpt from what Heins, who teaches in Pittsburg, had to say:
“All of us have lived with drastic state budget cuts that are having a devastating impact on education and on community services. We meet here today on Main Street because these are Main Street issues. We can’t afford an all-cuts answer to the state budget deficit — which is why the California Teachers Association has launched a State of Emergency campaign statewide this week — to pressure legislators to extend current taxes legislatively. Our schools and cities can’t afford to wait any longer to protect the revenue we have left.
Our schools and colleges alone have had $20 billion cut in the past three years, while 40,000 educators have been laid off. This spring, at least another 20,000 California educators received pink slips, including more than 3,100 teachers in the Bay Area. We are losing new and veteran teachers who have committed themselves to our students.
Our classes are overflowing and the school year is being shortened. Teachers are taking unpaid furlough days. Arts, music, PE, school libraries, counseling programs are all eliminated from schools throughout the Bay Area and state. Our college students are paying higher fees and tuition for classes they can’t even get into….
This week is not the beginning, nor will it be the end. It won’t be the end until California comes up with a long-term solution to our budget problems so that we don’t continue to spiral downward. The health of our schools, services, our communities and our entire state depends on it.”
Lancaster, who teaches at Walnut Creek Intermediate, said that as her class sizes have gone up, the amount of time she can give to each student has diminished.
She also blasted Conoco Phillips for spending $100,000 to defeat a recent parcel tax in the John Swett district. The company complained that the tax would cost the company $400,000 a year. Yet, the company donates $300,000 annually to schools, she said.
“Do the math,” Lancaster said. “Three-hundred-thousand plus 100,000 equals 400,000.”
She also noted that $400,000 would be only 1.3 percent of the CEO’s $31.34 million salary.
The Walnut Creek district, on the other hand, has been able to pass parcel taxes and receives substantial parent and education foundation donations.
“But what about communities that aren’t so fortunate?” she said. “How will those districts — how can any district for that matter — continue to receive 80 cents on the dollar and strive to train students for the 21st century?
As a teacher, I work every day to open minds, build dreams, encourage diversity and serve as a role model. I expect nothing less from my elected officials. It’s time to send a message to our state legislators: If you won’t pass a budget that fully funds education, let the people decide, or get out of the way. Isn’t the future worth it?”
Across the street, some WCI teachers were holding a “Grade-In” at Caffe La Scala, showing that their day doesn’t end at 3 p.m. I spoke to a few of them about their concerns regarding the state budget.
Math teacher Carol Reeves, English and social studies teacher Carol Hoy and special education teacher Denise Weiss said larger classes are hurting students.
“I can’t teach them the way I did before,” Hoy said. “Their education’s already suffering and their parents aren’t aware of that. But I know it is.”
Lancaster, who joined them briefly, agreed. She said she gives fewer essay tests and assignments because they are so time-consuming to grade.
Now, Lancaster said, she gives tests using multiple choice Scantron forms that students bubble in, which can be read by a machine.
Hoy and Lancaster said they have six classes of about 32 students, compared to about 25 students per class before budget cuts. When they assign reports, they spend at least 15 minutes correcting each one, resulting in 48 hours of work outside class.
The teachers said they also have more special education students, those who don’t speak English as a first language and students whose parents are divorced.
“I had a kid today telling me his parents are divorced and he feels caught between the two and his dad was yelling at him,” one of the teachers said. “I was talking to him at lunch.”
Weiss said she sometimes buys food for needy families and Hoy said some students can’t afford athletic shoes for P.E.
“There are kids that we could help if we had the services,” Weiss said, adding that counselors have been cut. “We have one part-time nurse for the whole district.”
Yet, Hoy said, California’s curriculum standards have become more rigorous since she started teaching 35 years ago. This places a greater burden on teachers, even though they have fewer resources, she said.
Lancaster and hundreds of other Bay Area teachers plan to join a huge regional rally in San Francisco today (Friday) from 4-6 p.m. in front of City Hall in the Civic Center Plaza, marking the culmination of the State of Emergency “week of action.” The “Angry Tired Teachers Band” made up of Hayward Unified music teachers will perform, including pink-slipped saxophone player, Bryan Holbrook.
Speeches will begin at 5 p.m. from speakers include Carol Kocivar, president-elect of the State PTA; Alicia Sandoval, Parent Leadership Action Network; Cathy Campbell of the California Federation of Teachers; and pink-slipped Bay Area educators, including Union City teacher Quyen Tran, who is eight months pregnant.
Matt Campbell, Principal of Las Lomas High School, has issued the following statement regarding the deaths of two students in a rafting accident on Saturday:
“In light of the tragic news, the Las Lomas community is deeply saddened by the loss of two of our students. Gavin and Matt were well respected by staff members and peers, and will be greatly missed.
Las Lomas will offer extended counseling services to help students deal with their grief.
We offer our condolences to the families and friends who are dealing with this extremely difficult time in their lives.”
Times columnist Tony Hicks has posted a somber column about the accident, saying boys are “hard-wired” for adventure.
I visited the site where Gavin and Matt reportedly launched their two-person inflatable raft and was surprised to see no barrier to the creek on what appeared to be the unincorporated county side of a small bridge on Vanderslice Avenue, near Murwood Elementary.
An unfenced area along a creek near Murwood Elementary in unincorporated Walnut Creek gives easy access to the water.
A sign on the chain link fence seen above warns that creek access is restricted, but doesn’t say it’s prohibited:
Sign on Kayser Court side of Vanderslice Avenue bridge
On the other side of the bridge, which appears to be in the city limits, the creek is completely fenced off with County Flood Control signs.
Sign on fence near Murwood Elementary School, above creek.
Friends of the boys who died have made a creek sign into a makeshift memorial.
"Matt Miller and Gavin Powell. We love and miss you," has been written on this sign above the creek.
Here’s some video I shot of the creek, which was flowing slowly today. A bunch of daisies had been left on a rock.
Do you think a fence and signs warning about the dangers of entering the creek should be posted?