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Consider Tax-Savvy Year-End Gifts to Family

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Kia Electrifies Soul Crossover

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Tis the Season… To Be Stressed

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HOA Fees: Worth Every Penny

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

By Linda Sandsmark
CASTRO VALLEY FORUM

 

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.”

 
Local Shelter has Lots of Pets Needing Homes
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 21:04
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By Linda Sandsmark
CASTRO VALLEY FORUM

This weekend the Hayward Animal Shelter is holding its final pet adoption event for 2014 – “Home for the Holidays” – a year-end effort to find good homes for dozens of dogs, cats, bunnies, and a cockatiel.

Volunteers are working both Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the hopes of bringing holiday happiness to pets and their new families.

“Our volunteers are incredible,” says shelter administrator Jennie Comstock. “We’re always looking for more volunteers. There are days we wouldn’t even be able to open without them. We’re usually closed on Sundays, but with their help we’re extending our hours and hoping to get most of our adoptable pets into homes this holiday.”

The adoption fee for any animal will be only $20 at this event, plus a $17 license fee for dogs who will live in Hayward. But anyone from any area may come in to adopt a pet for the same low fee.

“There are lots of homeless pets, and every day more come in than go out,” says longtime volunteer Chris Gin. “It would be wonderful if some could be adopted.”

With nearly 3,600 pets coming to the shelter annually, the volunteers are critical to helping find homes for the animals and keeping the shelter open.

“Our volunteers will have the shelter all decked out for Christmas this weekend,” says Gin. “Volunteers can also become dog pet pals, cat pet pals, and bunny pet pals. They help take the animals out and get them socialized.”

New volunteers typically help clean out the pet habitats, assist with laundry, wash out dishes, and so on. More experienced volunteers help find homes for the animals, participating in community outreach and education.

Volunteer orientations are held the first Saturday of each month from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., and the second Wednesday of each month from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Call 510-881-7927 for more information on volunteering.

The Hayward Animal Shelter has been around since the late 1970s, having  tripled its original building size since then.  There are separate areas for new arrivals, pets with health issues, and adoptable animals.

“Some people may be reluctant to come to a shelter, thinking it might be a drab place,” says Comstock. “It’s actually beautiful here. You’ll be greeted by smiling faces, and we always get compliments on how nice it looks and smells.”

During this final  adoption event of the year, a bake sale will raise money for the shelter’s medical fund and the community spay/neuter program. Every adopted pet will receive a gift to take home. A calendar will also be for sale featuring shelter pets. On Saturday only, any pet owner may bring their animal in for photos with Santa from noon to 4 p.m., for a $5 requested donation. Children’s activities are also planned.

Of course, the main focus is on finding “forever homes” for the adoptable animals.

“There are lots of really nice pets here that deserve a second chance,” says Gin.

For the $20 fee this weekend, dog adoptions include a 5-in-1 canine vaccination, Bordatella vaccination, rabies vaccination, microchip for identification and sterilization. Cat adoptions include a 5-in-1 feline vaccination, sterilization, a cardboard cat carrier, and a microchip. Rabbit adoptions include  sterilization and cardboard carrier for transport.

For more information on the Hayward Animal Shelter or this weekend’s “Home for the Holidays” event, call 510-293-7200, ext. 7.

Also, check out www.facebook.com/haywardanimalshelter. Hayward Animal Shelter is located at 16 Barnes Court, off Soto Road at  Jackson Street, near the Hayward DMV office.

 
Dino’s to Leave Boulevard for Lake Chabot Road
Thursday, 04 December 2014 07:36
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Dino’s Restaurant, a landmark at 3600 Castro Valley Boulevard, will soon move to Lake Chabot Road across the street from Eden Medical Center.

By Amy Sylvestri
CASTRO VALLEY FORUM

Major changes are in the works for two popular Castro Valley restaurants in the next couple of weeks.

Dino’s, a Castro Valley Boulevard standby for decades, is moving to

Lake Chabot Road, taking over the current location of the Palomares Cafe, which is closing.

Dino’s management will shut down its operation at 3600 Castro Valley Blvd. on Sunday, Dec. 21, and will reopen the next day at its new location at 20390 Lake Chabot Road across the street from Eden Medical Center, according to co-owner Allen Feng.

Though Palomares Cafe is closing, it will remain open for the next several days and for holiday parties. Its owner-chef, Shebli Massarweh, is looking to relocate to San Francisco.

The Palomares Cafe moved to its present site in 2012 after several years in the 580 Marketplace on East Castro Valley Blvd. where, according to Massarweh, rents became too costly.

“The lease went through the roof,” he told the Forum.

But then, because zoning issues at the new Lake Chabot location prevented it from hosting live music, the Cafe suffered a loss of business.

“I tired to bring live entertainment. I gave the county a petition with 3,000 signatures, but nothing,” said Massarweh. “That’s when it got ugly.

“I was hoping to continue because there is no place like it in Castro Valley. I gave it more than a year, but it’s time to move on because life is too short,” Massarweh said. “Basically, (the county regulations) choked me out. I love the restaurant, but when there are so many complications and so much politics, I have to move on.”

So he sold the building to the owners of Dino’s.

“I’m really thankful for all those years we were open,” said Massarweh. “I appreciate all of the people of Castro Valley and their support. I’m sorry we have to close.”

 

 
One in Five in County Helped by Food Bank
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 16:06
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Wally Washington and Larry Carter of Mt. Zion Church in West Oakland loaded up Thanksgiving supplies to feed the needy at the Alameda County Food Bank Monday morning.

By Amy Sylvestri
CASTRO VALLEY FORUM

 

Some East Bay residents who might have gone hungry tomorrow will have a hot Thanksgiving meal on their table because of the efforts of thousands of donors and hundreds of volunteers at the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

The food bank distributes food to 240 Alameda County soup kitchens, shelters, and programs year-round, but the holidays are an especially important time for the charity.

One in five Alameda County residents are assisted by the food bank, which receives most of its cash donations in November and December

“This is our most critical time because during the holidays we receive about 60 percent of the financial donations we’ll get all year,” said spokesperson Michael Altfest. “We have to make the most of the next weeks. This is when people are thinking of us.”

The holidays are also the time when they get the most volunteers, but food bank employees need help year-round. Altfest says spring and summer are difficult times because kids are not receiving free or reduced-cost meals at school. That could mean up to 10 extra meals per week that their parents struggle to provide.

The food bank plans to distribute over 3 million pounds of food throughout this holiday season. Some of that comes from non-perishables donated during food drives, but most of the food – including fresh meat and produce – has to be purchased.

The bank can turn one dollar in cash into six dollars worth of food because of deals they have set up with farms and food companies, Altfest said.

A “virtual food drive” on the food bank’s website allows people to shop and choose individual items at an online grocery store and then pay with a credit card, so they can choose exactly what they want to give.

The grocery items most needed are canned meat, fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, pasta and tomato sauce, beans, rice, soups, cereals and powdered milk.

If you are interested in donating, you can drop nonperishable foods in one of the 300 barrels that have been placed in grocery stores and other shops all over Alameda County, or make an online contribution at www.accfb.org or send a check to the Alameda County Community Food Bank, P.O. Box 2599, Oakland 94614.

If you would like to volunteer to help pack and distribute food, visit the accfb.org website.

If you need food, call 800-870-FOOD and you will be referred to a source that can provide groceries and hot meals, usually the same day. The Alameda County food bank makes over 3,000 referrals each month.

 
Annual Castro Valley Outreach Food Drive Gears Up
Wednesday, 19 November 2014 18:11
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Volunteers set up boxes for 150 local families who will receive food donations for Thanksgiving. Each box is labeled with the number of family members. Ray Harris, center, chairs the Outreach committee.

By Linda Sandsmark

CASTRO VALLEY FORUM

 

It’s that time again — time to share with neighboring families who are less fortunate.

Castro Valley PTA Outreach, now in its 23rd year, will pick up barrels filled with donated food from Castro Valley schools this Friday. The food will be distributed to 150 needy families in town during Thanksgiving week.

“This is my favorite committee in the district by far,” says volunteer Jane Brady, who teaches at Stanton Elementary School. “I’ve been doing this for 10 years and I love it because it’s all for the kids in Castro Valley. We’re taking care of our own.”

Donations are still welcome. Canned vegetables and ham, boxed or bagged stuffing, canned pumpkin, cranberry sauce, gravy, and dry pasta, etc. are requested.

Outreach chairman Ray Harris and a large group of volunteers work non-stop during the week prior to Thanksgiving, labeling boxes with the number of members in each recipient family, collecting the food and organizing the donations. This coming Monday and Tuesday additional volunteers will fill the boxes at the Latter-Day Saints church on Seven Hills Road.

After the Thanksgiving food drive, PTA Outreach begins its “Adopt-A-Family” program to bring gifts and food to 150  disadvantaged families for Christmas. Donations of food and toys will be gratefully accepted for that drive as well. All recipient families are local and are referred through a confidential process, mainly through schools and churches.

“If people would still like to donate money, we do have a Taxpayer I.D. number,” says Harris. “If anyone has excess non-perishable food, they can call 889-7743 to arrange for pick-up or to leave it at my house.  They can also call that number to volunteer.”

PTA Outreach thanks the community for its support throughout the years, including Castro Valley schools and District Office, Safeway, the Lions’ Breakfast Club, Castro Valley Rotary, Al’s Food Market, Our Lady of Grace and Transfiguration Catholic Churches, the Mormon Church and the generous citizens of Castro Valley.


 
WWII Veteran Still Finds Time for Public Service
Wednesday, 12 November 2014 12:08
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World War II Veteran Ted Kuntz, 93, keeps busy by volunteering at the California Highway Patrol office in Castro Valley.

By Linda Sandsmark
CASTRO VALLEY FORUM

 

This Veterans Day, the California Highway Patrol office in Castro Valley had a special vet to thank — their beloved 93-year-old volunteer, Ted Kuntz.

“He’s a workaholic,” says Public Information Officer Eric Thomas. “He is one of our hardest-working volunteers at the office, and he understands the meaning of volunteerism.”

In fact, Mr. Kuntz will soon be presented with a “Commander’s Commendation” for his dedication to the local CHP office.

“Well, I’ve got time on my hands and I like to do something useful,” says Kuntz, who also served in the Air Force during World War II. He was involved in combat duty with the 15th Air Force in Italy, as a navigator on a B-24 bomber.

A civil engineer who received his degree from University of Colorado, Kuntz moved out to California in 1945. He followed his mother and sister, who had relocated here during the war.

He has lived in Castro Valley since about 1955, and had his own civil engineering firm in San Leandro, G.T. Kuntz Consulting Engineering, from 1966 to  2011. Both of his adult children now live in Virginia.

So Kuntz comes to the CHP office every Monday afternoon and helps process collision reports, making sure the forms are completed correctly, photocopied and filed. He finishes off a large stack every week, just like clockwork. During his year and a half as a volunteer, he has also traveled to the Oakland office to help with paperwork backlogs there.

Highway Patrol staff members affirm that Kuntz is a very hard worker — and, most impressive of all — still an excellent driver. They would like to wish him a Happy Veteran’s Day, with a big ‘thank you’ for his continued service.

“This is a very nice place to work,” smiles Kuntz.

 

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