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GERD: A Growing Epidemic

By Wilson Tsai, M.D. • Special to the Times As families gather for Thanksgiving...

One in Five in County Helped by Food Bank
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 16:06
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


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 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 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
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



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
World War II Veteran Ted Kuntz, 93, keeps busy by volunteering at the California Highway Patrol office in Castro Valley.

By Linda Sandsmark


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.

Santa Maria Avenue’s Woes To Get a Hearing Next Week
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 12:22
Santa Maria Avenue borders Castro Valley High School.

By Amy Sylvestri


Because it borders Castro Valley High School, road conditions and congestion along Santa Maria Ave. have been a thorn in the side of residents, motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike.

Now the county is planning to improve the busy street from Wilson to Lorena avenues and it wants to hear the public’s concerns and ideas about the project.

“Before we start the final design, we want to get public feedback,” said Bond Ng of the Alameda County Public Works Department.

The agency is asking residents to show up for a meeting next Wednesday, Nov. 12, to discuss the improvements scheduled for the next few years. It will be held at 6 p.m. at the Castro Valley Library, 3600 Norbridge Avenue.

“It’s an open house and we want to keep it informal while at the same time listening to the public,” explained Ng, who said the project will likely include basic street upgrades.

In areas where there are no sidewalks or curbs, new concrete will be poured, trees will be planted and – though no formal bike lanes are planned – the street would be a “bike route” with room for cyclists on the road.

The major question will be how construction will impact traffic in what is already one of the most congested areas in town due to the picking up and dropping off of students at the high school.

One parent said that students gather for up to an hour right before and after school, and that law officers are often rude in ushering parents in and out of the drop off zone.

California Highway Patrol Officer Eric Thomas said traffic around any of Castro Valley’s schools is a daily challenge and the only real solution is “patience and flexibility.”

A parent himself, Thomas said he understands the frustrations.

“We’ve spoken to each of the individual schools. The reality is everyone wants to be in the same location at the same time and everyone cannot be in the same location at the same time.”

He said that parents can gauge their child’s ability and perhaps park farther away and allow them walk to their classrooms. He added that CHP officers and county sheriff’s deputies do enforcement in school zones, but they are not in the business of using schools as convenient places to fine parents.

“The last thing we want is to be writing out a bunch of tickets at schools,” said Thomas.

For more information about next Wednesday’s meeting or about the project, call county public works at 510-670- 5785.

Krayon’s – Where Everybody Knows Your Name – Celebrates 35 Years
Wednesday, 15 October 2014 10:26
BEHIND THE BAR; Owner Karen Jonke, at right, and longtime bartender Donna Popp, in back and just to the left, at Krayons Gallery on Friday.
By Fred Zehnder


It’s often called Castro Valley’s version of “Cheers,” and owner Karen Jonke says Krayons Gallery even has a few “Norms” and maybe a Cliff Clavin or two who stop by regularly.

Once-named Duffy’s Tavern after the popular radio comedy of the 1940s, Krayons – which was Jonke’s nickname – will celebrate its 35th anniversary this Saturday, Oct. 18.

Tucked just off the sidewalk at 3477 Castro Valley Blvd. near the intersection of Redwood Road, the old neighborhood bar is known for its comfortable surroundings, good prices and friendly service.

Jonke, who went through Castro Valley Schools and graduated from CVHS in 1963, had worked as a waitress and bartender around the East Bay since she was 21. When the owners of Duffy’s were looking to sell, she found backers and was able to buy the old-style bar and restaurant. It’s been going strong ever since.

Many of Krayons customers and some of its employees have been there for much of those 35 years.

Bartender Donna Popp started with Jonke when Krayons opened in 1979. Later she began another career, retired, and then came back to tend bar.

Why is the place so popular?

“I have no idea,” Jonke says. But you don’t have to be there for long to see that much of the bar’s popularity owes to her outgoing personality and her running dialogue with customers, honed from her many years as a bartender.

And then there’s the food. Wanda Larsen, who was also there on day one and still works as a bartender, set up the original food service. A crowd shows up at lunch time on Fridays for what many say are the best steaks and hamburgers in town. Doing the Friday barbecuing is Jonke’s husband, Fred. They’ve been married for 27 years.

Saturday’s anniversary party begins at 2 p.m.

New Market on Lake Chabot Road to Open in New Year
Wednesday, 08 October 2014 14:10
The new Lake Chabot Marketplace at 18911 Lake Chabot Road will open early in 2015, operated by Castro Valley High School graduate Hans Cho.

By Simon Wong


Castro Valley High School alumnus Hans Cho plans to re-open 18911 Lake Chabot Road as Lake Chabot Marketplace in early 2015. He acquired the blighted site, the former home of the Lil’ Grocer, Romley’s, Handy Andy and Tony’s Market, in Sept. 2011.

A few years before, the Mark Pringle Company had applied unsuccessfully to the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council and County authorities to redevelop the 1.17-acre parcel for residential use.

Renovation of what was essentially a shell is 80-percent complete, including new wiring, plumbing and air conditioning. Cho has demolished the adjacent Carl’s Drug Store building to create parking for the new marketplace and has just completed landscaping.

Both were among the conditions of this development project which, says Cho, “is taking on life.” Inspections are due in about six weeks, once construction work has finished.

This is the Cho family’s first foray into retail sales. Cho’s parents have operated San Leandro-based wholesaler C&H Meats for more than 30 years, specializing in Korean BBQ and supplying restaurants throughout the Bay Area.

Approximately 5,000 square feet of Lake Chabot Marketplace will accommodate a full-service meat counter selling American-style steaks, fillet, poultry, etc. and Asian-specialty meats. A hot kitchen will follow to introduce customers to their products.

“I’m seeking a tenant for the remaining 4,800 square feet to complement what we do. A ‘boutique marketplace’ offering organic produce, dried goods, prepared foods, coffee, bakery and even floristry would be ideal,” explained Cho. “We are focused on grocery and food service. The vendors would also complement each other. We’re currently speaking with interested parties

He would like to open for business in Jan. 2015, at the same time as a future tenant, but that will depend on how soon a lease is signed and tenant improvements can be completed.

“It’s great to be able to bring back something to the community in which my brothers and I grew up and which has given our family so much. We attended elementary, middle and high schools in Castro Valley. My parents moved here more than 30 years ago and are still residents,” Cho added.



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