Water Main Burst Causes Many Thousands of Dollars in Damage
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 16:38
East Bay Municipal Utility District crews worked Saturday morning to fill in the large sink hole created by Friday night’s water main break on Seven Hills Road at Santa Maria Avenue.
By Amy Sylvestri
CASTRO VALLEY FORUM
A large water main broke at the intersection of Seven Hills Road and Santa Maria Ave. during Friday evening’s rainstorm, seriously damaging about a dozen homes and leaving nearly 100 customers without water.
The 12-inch pipe broke at around 7 p.m., sending a torrent or water into the street. Alameda County Fire crews arrived to began digging trenches to divert the water away from homes along the downhill slope of Santa Maria Avenue.
The gushing water caused the pavement in the intersection to collapse into a 10-by-15-foot sink hole that trapped two wheels of a large fire engine, according to Andrea Pook, spokeswoman for the East Bay Municipal Utility District. Crews from EBMUD were able to shut off the water at about 9:40 p.m.
“The pipe broke lengthwise, which unfortunately compounded the damage,” Pook said. “The exact cause hasn’t been determined, but age
(of the pipe) was likely a big contributor among a combination of factors. There are lots of older pipes in the system and this was a cast iron one that was quite old.”
Pook said that the cold snap that hit the Bay Area over the past week could also have contributed to the burst. “The exact cause is hard to pinpoint,” she said.
Seven Hills Road remained closed for most of Saturday morning.
EBMUD has yet to complete a cost estimate of the damage, but Pook said that at least 10 houses will need extensive repairs.
This was the second water main break on Seven Hills Road this year , and there have been a half dozen other, smaller water line breaks in Castro Valley over the past year or so, most blamed on the aging EBMUD infrastructure, Pook said.
Last summer, the EBMUD board voted to rate water rates by 9.75 percent for this year and an additional 9.5 percent for next year, largely in order to repair the aging East Bay pipes, some of which are nearly 100 years old.
Golden Tee Golfland Celebrates 50 Years
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 13:44
The Golden Tee Dragons – Rumors about a safe buried under the Golden Tee Dragon Volcanoes are true.
By Linda Sandsmark
CASTRO VALLEY FORUM
One of Castro Valley’s most visible landmarks, Golden Tee Golfland, celebrated its 50th birthday this year.
Thanks to its vibrant décor, upgraded grounds, friendly staff and jovial manager, Golden Tee miniature golf never really seems to show its age.
“We’re always willing to help do anything that will help make the community better,” says long-time manager Bob Anthon.
Golfland often donates rounds of golf to worthy causes. Charitable and school groups hold fund-raising “tournaments” there. Students with intellectual disabilities have gained work experience in the arcade. And parents looking for the perfect party venue know they can always count on the Golden Tee.
“We really enjoy being part of the community,” Anthon adds.
The Golden Tee’s original owner, Ben Kenney, came to the U.S. from Canada. While in Mesa, Arizona, he spotted his first miniature golf course and liked what he saw. He built his first course in Tucson (which was managed by Anthon), and it was such a hit that he eventually built about a dozen more.
In 1962 he started building Castro Valley’s Golden Tee, which was finished in 1963. Currently the company has seven locations: four in the Bay Area, and others in Roseville, Anaheim, and Mesa, Arizona.
Ben Kenney passed away in 1994, and the business is still continued by Kenney’s sons and daughter: John, Fred, Jim, Bob, Don and Kathleen.
Under the heading of “Golfland folklore,” Anthon says there is indeed a safe — an empty one — buried under the golf course. He says that before Golfland was built, there was a savings and loan building at the front of the property.
“There was a big old safe in there. As they were constructing the golf course and filling in holes in the ground, they stuck the safe in the cement under the dragon volcanoes,” he says.
In addition to the safe from the savings and loan, Golfland has another early claim to fame. There was also a dog kennel toward the rear of the lot, and one of the “Lassie” dogs from the popular TV show was kept there.
“That’s our star connection,” says Anthon.
People who visited Golfland in the 1960s and ’70s might also remember the giant bears that once stood in what is now the large glass “party room” near the park entrance. The back-story is that Ben Kenney went to Alaska with his then-12-year-old son Fred. They returned with two polar bears, one grizzly, and three wolves. He displayed them at the Castro Valley location from about 1966 to 1972, then donated them to a natural history museum in order to better preserve them.
“Golden Tee was left with the empty glass showroom, which was redesigned two years later into a party room. It’s very popular,” adds Anthon.
The Golden Tee is always in the process of improving. The latest feature is a Mayan Temple, which just opened in November. Since as many as 10,000 customers per month come to the Golden Tee during busy times, the grounds get a lot of use. To keep the course looking nice, its 14 employees inspect it closely every day.
Miniature golf is the perfect activity for grandparents and grandkids, teens, children and adults. Golden Tee’s arcade with over 50 videogames is a popular spot even for those who don’t golf.
Golden Tee Golfland has two 18-hole courses and is open seven days a week. Prices vary from $4.99 per person on Family Night (Monday after 6 p.m.) up to complete party packages with arcade tokens, pizza and soft drinks in the party room. Seniors over 55 and juniors (under 11) receive a discount, and toddlers under 4 are free.
Golden Tee Golfland is located at 2533 Castro Valley Blvd. Visit www.golfland.com/castrovalley/ or call 510-537-2168 for more information.
Castro Valley Food Programs Help Feed Families All Year
Wednesday, 27 November 2013 11:54
United Methodist Church’s Food 2 Go program includes volunteers from high school age through 92.
By Linda Sandsmark
CASTRO VALLEY FORUM
Food 2 Go, based here in Castro Valley, faithfully delivers donated canned food, baked goods, eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables to about 60 struggling families every other week.
Volunteers sort the food into boxes after picking up donated goods from Lucky and Fresh and Easy markets.
Drivers then travel from Fremont to Berkeley delivering the food, which is a real blessing for working families who may not be able to get to a food bank. The need is year-round, not just during the holidays.
“On Tuesdays and Thursdays each week we do a ‘food rescue.’ We go to stores and pick up food that they used to toss. Now they give it to agencies like ours,” says Karen Parker, Food 2 Go’s lay leader. “We’re the only group that delivers all around the Bay Area.”
Since the home deliveries are every other week, some of the more perishable items are given away sooner. The church hosts senior programs (exercise, sewing and so on) and participants in those programs may take items that Food 2 Go can’t save for delivery.
Food 2 Go also works in conjunction with Faith Lutheran Church’s weekly food giveaway in Castro Valley, so that nothing goes to waste.
Some of the food comes free, or at a reduced rate, through grants from the Alameda County Food Bank. United Methodist Church also collects a weekly “Change for Change” donation which usually brings in between $5 and $30. Every dollar in donations is stretched into about $4 worth of food.
During Thanksgiving week, smaller families receive a chicken and larger families get a turkey. Vegetarian boxes are available as well.
On a typical Friday the volunteers include 15 food packers plus several delivery drivers. Younger people do the heavy lifting, and older volunteers sort the food. Recipients are referred by the Food Bank, or by calling United Methodist’s hotline at 510-214-6712.
Food 2 Go is always looking for volunteer drivers, especially someone with a van, large car, or truck.
Please call Karen Parker at 510-278-2591 to volunteer or donate.
United Methodist Church is located at 19806 Wisteria St., Castro Valley.
Volunteers Working to Make Sure Local Families Won’t Go Hungry
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 13:29
Castro Valley Outreach volunteers prepare boxes for Thanksgiving food distribution to 150 local families.
By Linda Sandsmark
CASTRO VALLEY FORUM
In this season of sharing, Castro Valley volunteers are making the holidays brighter for many local families.
Operations are in full swing this week and next at Castro Valley Outreach, preparing food boxes for 150 families in need this Thanksgiving. The families have been “adopted” through Ray Harris’ nonprofit Outreach program by local schools, which have been collecting non-perishables for weeks.
This Friday, volunteers will pick up the food from schools, and sorting will begin. Next Monday and Tuesday the food packages will be packed into sturdy boxes at the Mormon Church at 3900 Seven Hills Road. Boxes are marked with the number of members in each family.
Castro Valley Outreach is in its 22nd year and is a model of efficient coordination. Ray Harris, who spearheads the drive each year, also rounds up donations from local stores and other supporters.
“It’s all for the kids,” says longtime volunteer Serena Foxworthy.
Food donations may still be brought to the church on Monday, and cash donations are accepted at any time.
Castro Valley Outreach will also organize an “Adopt-A-Family” toy and gift drive in December to make sure that 90 local disadvantaged families will have a happy Christmas.
At Faith Lutheran Church on Redwood Road, a weekly food distribution is already in place, run entirely by volunteers. Mary Wildensten and Teri Donat have overseen this program for 15 years. This food pantry serves about 230 people per week, all of whom arrive by referral.
“Once a month on Thursdays they can get a bag of non-perishable food, and weekly they can help themselves to produce and other perishables,” says Wildensten.
Last week the group took sign-ups for the special Thanksgiving food giveaway. Local agencies also refer folks who need an emergency food box, which has enough to last for two days. The program is supported by local donations, the Alameda County Food Bank, and the federal government.
“From spring through summer we also go to the San Leandro Farmers’ Market as it closes on Wednesday evenings. The farmers give us their extra unsold produce, which is a benefit for them and us. They don’t have to haul it away or toss it, and we’re able to give it out,” adds Wildensten.
Volunteers get as much out of helping as the recipients do from receiving the food.
“I have a lot of fun coming and helping out, and seeing the smiles on people’s faces,” says volunteer Kaitlin Suchanek, a sophomore at Redwood Christian High School.
For more information, on the Faith Lutheran Church distribution, call 510-582-0818 or visit www.flccv.org.
To reach Ray Harris of Castro Valley Outreach, leave a message at 510-889-7743.
Castro Valley Baker Makes Student’s Dream Come True
Thursday, 14 November 2013 10:37
Catrina Garcia with Christine Clement, owner of Swiss Delices bakery. Garcia, part of Castro Valley Adult & Career Education’s Strides program, works four hours a week at Swiss Delices, which she calls her “dream job.”
By Sharon Travers
SPECIAL TO THE FORUM
Catrina Garcia puts on her apron, settles a net over her brunette hair, and begins icing bat-shaped Halloween cookies.
“Ever since I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to be a baker. I’ve always loved that sweet smell,” she says.
Garcia, a student from Castro Valley Adult & Career Education’s Strides program for adults with disabilities, is achieving her dream, thanks to Christine Clement, owner of Swiss Delices bakery.
Clement, originally from Switzerland, came to the United States in 1998 and opened Swiss Delices, a European-style fine bakery, in 2008.
She contacted Kathy Castaneda, department coordinator of the school’s Strides program, which was expanding its efforts to connect students to both paid employment and volunteer work. Castaneda set up several students to interview.
“When I interviewed Catrina, she was so passionate that I knew she would be a good fit here,” Clement says.
Castaneda stresses the importance of employment for adults with disabilities.
“Work is meaningful on so many levels whether you are fully or differently-abled. It gives students a more balanced life, greater independence, and a sense that they are part of society,” she remarks.
In preparation for a paid job, many Strides students practice their work skills volunteering at businesses in the community such as Don Jose’s and New Hope Skilled Nursing Facility.
“Work is essential for anyone’s identity and self-worth,” observes Clement. “Catrina can say ‘I am a baker. I am able to do this. I am part of you.’ Being part of the community and having a purpose is very powerful.”
And for Catrina Garcia? “My first day working was the greatest day of my life,” she says proudly.
The Strides program at Castro Valley Adult & Career Education is seeking additional employment opportunities for its students. If your business is interested, please contact Kathy Castaneda at
or via the adult school at 510-886-1000.
Swiss Delices is located at 3315 Castro Valley Boulevard and is open 7 days a week. Phone (510) 881-8669 or go to www.swissdelices.com
Sharon Travers is Marketing Chair for Castro Valley Adult & Career Education.
Castro Valley Facility Evacuated After Staff Abandons 14 Patients
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 10:34
Paramedics load patients into ambulances Saturday afternoon at the Valley Springs Manor Assisted living facility in Castro Valley.
Alameda County Sheriff’s officers are continuing their investigation into the apparent abandonment of 14 patients at a Castro Valley assisted care facility last Thursday after it was ordered to shut down by the California Department of Social Services.
Only three employees – a cook, a housekeeper and a caregiver – remained at Valley Springs Manor at 17926 Apricot Way, struggling to provide care for the patients that included bedridden amputees and elderly people suffering from dementia.
Overwhelmed by the situation, the three remaining employees notified authorities on Saturday of their plight. Paramedics moved the patients by ambulance to other care facilities in the county that afternoon.
It was unknown how many staff members walked away from the facility on Thursday when they had no assurance that they would be paid. The three who remained, did so out of a sense of responsibility, according to Sgt. JD Nelson, public information officer for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.
“We’re talking about human beings here. How do you just abandon them? It’s heartbreaking,” Nelson told reporters.
Michael Weston, a spokesperson for the social services department, told the Sacramento Bee there had been a “history of concerns” over the years with Valley Springs Manor, which is licensed as a 33-bed facility to Herminigilda N. Manuel and Mary Julleah N. Manuel operating as Hnm Enterprises LLC in San Leandro.
Weston said the licensee was responsible for supervising the shutdown.
Authorities said results of the investigation could lead to possible criminal charges of elder abuse.