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Superintendent Jim Negri to Retire
Friday, 30 January 2015 15:05

012815Castro Valley School Superintendent Jim Negri will retire at the end of June after six years at the helm of one of the Bay Area’s most respected school districts.

Negri announced his plans late Monday afternoon in a press release sent to news organizations in which he thanked the members of the school board, both past and present, “for their faith and trust” in his leadership.

He said he had applied to the district based on the board’s “unwavering commitment to the success of every student, strong fiscal management and belief in the Governance Team model,” and that he had never been disappointed.

Negri has had a long career as a public educator, serving as a superintendent in a number of East Bay districts, most recently in the Acalanes Union High School District, before being hired by the Castro Valley Unified School District in 2009.

“For 41 years, I have had incredible experiences as a teacher, site administrator, district office administrator and superintendent, said Negri. “I have truly loved every position, school and district in which I have served, but Castro Valley has been home.”

Longtime members of the school board were quick to praise the superintendent.

President John Barbieri said Negri “has always focused on ‘what is best for our students.’ He has developed a team of site and district leaders that has stressed academic excellence while coping with the financial challenges of recent years.”

Board Vice President Jo Loss added, “Jim has been an exemplary superintendent; acting as an instructional leader and a true believer in providing avenues to success for every student.”

During Superintendent Negri’s tenure, the district schools and staff continued to be recognized for their academic achievement; managed the challenges of state budget cuts; began implementation of the Common Core State Standards; upgraded technology throughout the district and completed the seismic retrofitting of the schools.

Negri is also serves on the Board of Directors of Castro Valley Rotary and the Castro Valley/Eden Area Chamber of Commerce, and he serves as Chair of the Eden Area Livability Initiative Education Working Group.

Barbieri said the board will initiate discussions at its meeting tomorrow night regarding the process it will use to hire the next superintendent.

Will CV Man’s Ad Make It To Super Bowl Broadcast?
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 11:39

012115Castro Valley native Ryan Turner, second from left, directed a commercial (“Baby’s First Word”) which may air during the Superbowl broadcast on Feb. 1 if it gets enough votes online. From left are Director of Photography Alex Pollini, Turner holding a “stand-in” baby doll, actors Jeff Galfer and Michael Sun Lee, and Writer/Producer Travis Braun. The ad cost only $350 to make and features Landon Crew as Baby Liam, shown on the poster behind them.

By Linda Sandsmark / CASTRO VALLEY FORUM


Castro Valley native Ryan Turner is on the verge of stardom — a hilarious commercial he directed was selected as one of 10 finalists worldwide that may be shown during the Superbowl.

Whether or not his commercial is chosen depends on online voting, and Castro Valley residents are invited to help.

Shot in a friend’s back yard on a budget of only $350, Turner’s humorous take on the lure of Doritos Tortilla Chips is entitled “Baby’s First Words,” which may be viewed at Viewers may then vote for the commercial, which will help the Doritos judges select the winner. Fans may vote once per day through January 28.

“This is the biggest opportunity of my life, and I appreciate any support people can give me,” says Turner, 25, who graduated from Castro Valley High in 2007.

There were almost 5,000 entries to the “Doritos Crash The Superbowl” contest. The Doritos company chose their favorite 29, which were then narrowed down to a top ten.

The contest asked for “consumer-created commercials” to compete for airtime during the Superbowl on Sunday, Feb. 1,  plus a $1 million grand prize.

Two of the commercials will air on that day, one chosen by the Doritos company, and one by popular vote. Without giving anything away, the commercial is funny, engaging and definitely worth a look.

“When they picked our commercial for the semi-finals and then the finals, we were really blown away,” says Turner. “Now it’s up to us to promote it. We’re out on the streets wearing t-shirts with ‘’ on them, handing out flyers, and asking everyone to share it. The Castro Valley High teachers and students are really supportive, which is heartwarming.”

Prior to CVHS, he also attended Canyon Middle  and Independent Elementary schools.

The high school will be running an announcement on its marquee about Turner’s commercial.

Turner actually started his career at Castro Valley high’s Advanced Video Production classes with teacher Ken Jacobsen. He always loved working with film (“It’s so much fun, it doesn’t feel like work”) and was a film major at U.C. Santa Barbara. After graduating in 2011, he moved to Los Angeles and began working on video projects.

In September 2014 he was introduced to a writer, Travis Braun, who needed a director to shoot his ad for the contest. Braun works for Netflix and had just won a Nickelodeon writer’s fellowship. Turner and Braun’s collaboration, filmed Oct. 15, resulted in “Baby’s First Words.”“We were working completely out-of-pocket, so we pulled in all the favors we could think of, including borrowing a college friend’s back yard for the location. The cast and crew are volunteers.

The hard part was casting the baby, because they can’t read lines and some were crying or asleep. When Landon Crew, who plays baby Liam, came in, we knew we were saved. He had a big smile and was so charismatic that we knew we had a commercial.”

Indeed, the commercial’s baby-parent interaction is so endearing, one would have no idea of the work that went into the filming.

“We were all dancing around the yard trying to get him to do what we needed. His mom was right there helping too. He is a baby, after all,” says Turner. “We were shooting mostly on natural light, so that dictated what we could do and when.”

After finishing the baby’s scenes they shot the rest of the footage, Turner edited it on his computer, then it was sent out for sound editing and color spacing. It was submitted November 5 and selected in January by the Doritos company, which is known for its humorous ads. Now the rest is up to public support.

The contest winner will also get the chance to work as a contractor for a full year onsite at Universal Pictures in Hollywood. The eight finalists whose commercials don’t air during the broadcast will each win $25,000. The runner-up whose ad airs, but does not receive the most fan votes, will win $50,000.

Entries arrived from all over the world, with finalists from the U.K., Australia, Canada and the U.S.

The easiest way to vote for Turner’s commercial is to click on the website Another link is

More information on Turner is available on his facebook page,

Replacing Castro Valley’s Aging Water Mains
Wednesday, 14 January 2015 13:04
EBMUD crews at work yesterday replacing an old water pipe on Miramar Ave. in Castro Valley. Excavations in the center of the street mean single-lane travel for a few more weeks.

By Simon Wong

For motorists who have been putting up with a single traffic lane on Miramar Avenue, relief will come, but not for a few more weeks.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District has been excavating the center of the roadway between Stanton Ave. and Grey Fox Drive for the past seven weeks, replacing 500 feet of water main that serves 18 homes in the area. The project is 75 percent complete and is due to be finished by Feb. 22.

“Our system has more than 4,000 miles of pipe and we try to replace 10 miles of water main, annually,” explained EBMUD Spokesperson Nelsy Rodriguez, who said customers are notified of planned work in their area and of possible interruptions in their water service. “The work on Miramar is an example of our commitment to ensure continued service to our customers in that neighborhood.”

While EBMUD schedules pipe-renewal according to age and other known factors, such as corrosion and land movement, the agency also “treats the system like a triaged patient.”

And Castro Valley is no stranger to bursting water mains that flood streets and sometimes homes. Those occurrences as well as other issues mean priorities change around the clock, every day of the year, so planned works in Alameda and Contra Costa counties are sometimes delayed.

“We recognize interrupted water service and pipeline construction crews in your street are inconvenient. Most of the time, the pubic realizes we do what we can to minimize disruption to their daily routines and appreciate their patience with this essential work,” added Rodriguez.

Ways to Save on Your Monthly Garbage Bills
Thursday, 08 January 2015 09:30

010715Smaller households may be able to save money by using a 20-gallon capacity brown garbage cart, or sharing a brown cart with a neighbor. However, blue recycling and green compostable services are mandatory within Castro Valley Sanitary District.


Castro Valley singles, retirees, and avid recyclers may wish to look into some money-saving options available from Waste Management of Alameda County (WMAC). The company offers several ways to reduce garbage collection costs, including “migration” to smaller cans and “exemptions.”

Typically, three carts are picked up from homes in Castro Valley: a 64-gallon green/organics waste can,  a 64-gallon blue bin for recycled materials, and a 32-gallon brown “toter” cart for non-recyclables.

However, now that so much is recycled, some  households may not need such a large-capacity brown cart. Although the blue recycling and green waste cart services are mandatory in the Castro Valley Sanitary District (CVSAN), residents may be able to cut costs for the brown garbage cans.

One possibility for homeowners who generate less garbage is “migrating” (downsizing) to a 20-gallon capacity cart. This looks like the typical brown cart, but has a much smaller capacity. “Migrating” from a 32 to 20-gallon cart saves approximately $12 monthly, or $144 annually.

“Residents, on their honor, are encouraged to commit to the smallest garbage cart for at least a year,” according to WMAC’s website. It also states that homeowners who do so are eligible for a $50 credit on their next quarterly bill.

Residents may request the 20-gallon cart by filling out an online form ( or by calling 510-613-8745 with account number, name on the account, address and phone number.

Another way to save money is through an “exemption.”

According to the CVSAN website, residents may call WMAC at 510-537-5500 to request an exemption form for completion and submission. The form is not available online at this time.

The garbage exemption form actually lists several options. One is based on the resident sharing garbage service with another owner/occupant in the District, and splitting the cost.

The names, addresses and telephone numbers of both parties are required,  plus a copy of both parties’ Waste Management bills, and a letter of agreement between the two. Garbage exemption is granted for one year for the current owner/occupants of the property.

WMAC will call the neighbors, verify the situation, and perform an inspection. Failure to allow an outdoor inspection, and a possible interior inspection, may result in denial of the request.

Yet another other option may be applicable if the resident delivers their garbage to an authorized disposal facility. Required documentation includes at least four receipts or a monthly bill showing garbage is being discarded at least weekly, in a safe and legal manner, including a description of how the garbage is handled until it is taken to be discarded.

“If the exemption is granted, recycling and organics services are mandatory. Monthly rate $9.68,” says Natasha Neves, Contract Compliance and Recycle Representative with WMAC.

Castro Valley Sanitary District (CVSan) contracts with WMAC for solid waste disposal services, including recycling, organics and garbage.  More information is available at

Prominent Business Leader Roberta Rivet Dies
Thursday, 01 January 2015 08:59
Roberta Rivet just after becoming Executive Director of the Castro Valley / Eden Area Chamber of Commerce.

By Steve Dimick


Roberta Rivet, long-time property manager for Castro Village Shopping Center, retired executive director of the Castro Valley Chamber of Commerce and former chairman of the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council (MAC), died this past Saturday, December 27, 2014, at Kaiser Hospital, San Leandro. She was 65.

Born to Roy and Mabel Young of San Lorenzo, Rivet was a graduate of Arroyo High School and Heald’s Business College whose career came full circle around Castro Valley.

Father Roy was a real estate agent with his office at Castro Village in the mid-to-late-’60s. Shortly after leaving Heald’s, Rivet landed a job with R.T. Nahas and Co. (owners of the shopping center), eventually becoming the property manager for both Castro Village and Newark Square Shopping Center.

Randy Nahas, who worked closely with her in his family’s company for nearly 30 years, echoed the sentiments of many of the people who worked with her over the years: “There was nobody who was a better listener.”

“When she retired, we joked that we should buy her a park bench, because she was everybody’s ear,” Nahas said.

“She was never afraid to be tough with difficult tenants,” he said, “but then she would point out to them that they were doing things that weren’t good for their own business, and they’d listen to her.”

From the tenants’ viewpoint, “things could get tense when you were negotiating a lease,” remembered Bill Saltzman, owner of Merle’s Hallmark in the Village. “But you always got to a fair deal with her.

“And she always gave the impression that she loved what she was doing,” Saltzman said. “I believe it had to be genuine, because she was so consistent about it.”

Ron Meissner, of Cherry Creek Mortgage, said he had worked with Rivet and served on boards with her for more than 30 years.

“You know, what always impressed me was her ability to work with men,” he said. “She always got what she needed out of them, but she was never afraid of their egos, which I consider to be quite an accomplishment.”

Rivet (who pronounced her name “Riv-ay” in the French manner, unlike her husband of 25 years, Bernard, who pronounces the name “Riv-et” with a hard “t,” much to the amusement of many of their friends) served on board after board during her career, including the East Bay Cancer Support Group, Eden Foundation, the Oakland Coliseum Foundation (organizing and running its Robert T. Nahas Scholarship program), Castro Valley Arts Foundation, Castro Valley Redevelopment Citizens Advisory Committee, and Alameda County Successor Oversight Board. She served on the Castro Valley MAC for eight years, including two terms as its president.

She had also been an active member of the Castro Valley Chamber of Commerce over the years, and served several terms as president of its board of directors. After less than two years of retirement from Nahas and Co., she was called back into action in 2008 as interim executive director of the Chamber following the abrupt departure of its previous executive director. Initially content to be a fill-in, she finally told friends and associates that “if the board of directors offers me the job, I’ll probably take it.”

They did and she did.

Rivet served five years as executive director of the Chamber before retiring for a second time in early 2013. During her time as executive director, she oversaw the Fall Festival’s move from Castro Village and surroundings to Norbridge Avenue because of Boulevard streetscaping.

She also presided over the expansion of the Chamber into the Castro Valley/Eden Area Chamber of Commerce, gathering under one umbrella organization the other unincorporated communities of Ashland, Cherryland and San Lorenzo.

“For everybody who thought she was tough, there were five or ten people who knew better,” said attorney John Hannon. “I have to think she was both.”

Randy Nahas pointed out that for his father’s scholarship program, Rivet not only selected and interviewed the semi-finalists and then chose the winners of the four-year scholarships, but each year, she would take the four winners for a long weekend outing to Lake Tahoe.

Sister Rhonda Jones of Stockton sees nothing unusual in Roberta’s taking the scholarship winners under her wing.

“My sister was about seven years older than I was and when we were young, our mother was ill,” she said. “So from the time I was starting in school, she took over as my mother and this lasted well into my young adult years.

“I even went on dates with her – at her invitation, of course,” she laughed. “But she was constantly doing things to help me grow as a person.”

Austin Bruckner, now Council Assistant to City Councilwoman Margie Matthews of San Jose, came under Rivet’s motherly influence when, as a Castro Valley High School sophomore, he called the Chamber office looking for leads for an internship and was told by the office manager, “we’re looking.” This led to a three-year stint with the Chamber where he learned, as he put it “everything,” the least of which was office skills.

“She taught me how to work a room – and who to avoid,” he said. “She also taught me how to recognize who the key players were in a crowd and why they were important.”

Bruckner went on to spend two years as field representative for State Sen. Ellen Corbett using, he said, all of the lessons he learned from Rivet.

“But Roberta also treated us all like family,” he said. “We were family first and employees second. As just one example, every year at Christmas, she would take the whole staff out to eat in the city and then to the theater.”

District 4 County Supervisor Nate Miley was out of town for the holidays when his Constituent Liaison, Bob Swanson, e-mailed him the news of Rivet’s death.

“I am so sorry to hear this news!” Miley e-mailed back. “She was quite a lady!” The exclamation points are the Supervisor’s. A memorial is scheduled for 10 a.m. on January 24, 2015, at the Castro Valley Moose Lodge.

CVHS Music Teacher Wins National Award
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 15:51
Castro Valley High Band/Orchestra conductor Steven Hendee receives a prestigious award this week in Chicago.

By Linda Sandsmark


Steven Hendee, Castro Valley High’s Band and Orchestra teacher, travels to Chicago this week to receive the prestigious John Philip Sousa Foundation Legion of Honor Award.  The award will be presented at an annual conference for professional band and orchestra directors.

“It is an honor to be selected for such a unique award, in that it is an acknowledgement of both excellence in the musical quality of the groups I teach, and service to the profession,” says Hendee.

The Legion of Honor Award was established in 1989 by the John Philip Sousa Foundation to recognize and honor band directors who have maintained school concert band programs of excellent musical quality for a period of at least 20 years, and who have held important positions of leadership in their professional organizations.

“This is my 23rd year of teaching,” says Hendee. “The last three years have been in Castro Valley Unified School District,  and I am currently the State Vice President for the California Music Educators Association. Since coming to Castro Valley High School our bands have consistently been recognized for their superior performances at local music festivals.”



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