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Future of Willow Park Remains in Limbo
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 10:42
Only a handful of golfers were on the links at Willow Park on Saturday, a problem common to a number of courses in the East Bay.

By Amy Sylvestri



Willow Park, Castro Valley’s public golf course, may close before the end of the year. The current 50-year lease is set to expire on Nov. 30.

The current owners have announced that they do not intend to renew their lease, according to Steve Falzone, president of the Willow Park Golf Club.

So the East Bay Regional Park District, which oversees the course, must look for new owners.

However, the district has yet to put out a Request for Proposal to get bids from potential owners, and even once the request is issued, approving the owner is a lengthy process.

“We are really in limbo right now,” said Falzone. “It’s frustrating.”

A buyer could continue running the 18-hole course as it is, or turn it private. Or, if no bids come in, the golf course’s future could be even more mysterious.

“What if no one comes forward? That’s the one hundred thousand dollar question,” said Falzone.

The park district says that they will work to insure that the course remains open, even if it means finding a temporary owner as a stop-gap.

Willow Park, which originally opened in 1966 is set on the east side of the Chabot Regional Park at 17007 Redwood Road. In addition to the gold course, the property also has a restaurant and events facility.

Willow Park, like many other area golf courses, suffered during the economic downturn, though numbers have improved. But this past Saturday, only a handful of players were on the Willow Park links and one golfer expressed his concern over the low turnout.

The park also needs an expensive irrigation update.

Falzone said that he’d like to seethe Hayward Area Recreation District take over ownership, but HARD already runs two gold courses and they are running at deficits.

Falzone’s club normally recruits members this time of the year, but cannot because of the uncertain future of the course.

“There is a lack of concrete information,” said Falzone. “It’s just incredibly difficult to deal with the uncertainty.”

Castro Valley Pride Draws a Crowd For Saturday’s Annual Celebration
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 06:09
All of the faith leaders just after they led the opening prayer from the stage at Saturday’s CV Pride Event.

Castro Valley Pride was back for its 4th year celebration Saturday, still at Castro Valley High School but this time in the Redwood Road parking lot just North of the Heyer entrance.

The new location gave event attendees more room and much more shade, which worked out very well for the hundreds of area residents who came to spend a beautiful day with their LGBT friends and neighbors.

There were food trucks and face painting, games for the kids, dancing and singing, and plenty of audience seating for the main stage and performers. Dozens of vendor and group booths were there to browse.

More than half a dozen faith groups were represented. In fact, the single most represented group was churches. This was not surprising to Pride team member Billy Bradford.

“We asked our local faith leaders and welcoming congregations to join us for a reason,” said Bradford. “It’s important to note that the voices raised against our relationships and families are not the only voices in the faith community. There are many who stand with us in love.”

A light breeze kept the giant rainbow flag behind the stage fluttering and kept the performers and audience cool.

Castro Valley School Superintendent Jim Negri provided the opening remarks. He was joined on stage by County Supervisor Nate Miley, Congressman Eric Swalwell, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, and representatives from the offices of Senator Ellen Corbett and Assemblyman Bill Quirk, who offered their support.

The day ended with a group performance of ‘Imagine’ with all the CV Pride team members and volunteers taking the stage to sing “you may say we are dreamers, but we’re not the only ones.”

CVHS Student Launches Singer-Songwriter Career
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 06:26
15-year-old singer/songwriter Anjali Asha.

By Linda Sandsmark



Ever since she was a tiny child, Castro Valley resident Anjali Asha has been singing – and writing songs. Now entering her sophomore year at Castro Valley High School, Anjali is taking her talents public.

“From the moment she learned to write, she started writing lyrics,” recalls her dad, Raj Prasad. “She was about five years old when she wrote her first song.”

Fast-forward 10 years. If you “Google” 15-year-old Anjali Asha’s name now, you can see and hear her professional-level songs and videos for yourself. Anjali has written hundreds of songs, drawing from all genres of music.

Her song “The Bay” (written when she was 12) pays tribute to San Francisco, referencing Otis Redding, Tony Bennett, and Union Square.

Yet Anjali (or AJ) is a refreshingly sweet, normal teenager – with a great voice. She’s an officer in Castro Valley High’s Teens Reaching Out (TRO) community service club, which holds toy and coat drives for the Salvation Army and Goodwill. Not only did she play Powder Puff football this year in May, she sang the national anthem beforehand as well.

“I had to run down to the field right afterward, because I was in the starting line-up. I was all out of breath already, and still shaking from a little bit of stage fright,” she says. “But my favorite part is performing. You get to see the happiness and hope that you’re giving people through music, reflected in their faces.”

In fact, Anjali Asha’s name means “offering hope” in Hindi. And though she’s of Indian and Mexican descent, she writes and sings her songs in English.

During just the past few months Anjali Asha has sung at both Omino Day World Music Festival and Carnaval  2014 in San Francisco, in addition to being interviewed on Fiji Indian TV. Her videos play on the California Music Channel (CMC, digital TV channel 26) which comes on after school and takes requests.

“I have literally notebooks and notebooks full of my songs,” she says.  “People don’t believe it until they see them. My dad is a record producer and he’s taught me how to structure the background music. If he has a beat, I’ll write to it. I think of melodies and mold lyrics to them.”

She also recently made her “first dollar” through her music, although it was accidental.

“I was sitting outside Bonfare Market near the high school waiting for one of my friends, and I was singing to myself.  A man just came up to me and said, ‘You have a beautiful voice,’ and he gave me five dollars. I took it home and we framed it,” she says.

In fact, it’s probably always been Anjali’s destiny to be a singer. Her father recalls a family trip to Disneyland when Anjali was barely a year old. She sat happily in her stroller singing her own melodies – not the Disney tunes that were piped in all around her.

When she was nine years old she asked her dad if she could record a song for a class project about careers. She had chosen the topic, “How to Make a Song for the Radio,” and had already written a song to use as a demo. She didn’t yet know that “lyrics” meant words or that “melody” meant music, although she had intuitively created both.

Even though she received an “A” on her project, her parents told her to wait until she was a teenager to see if she really wanted to do the work to become a singer-songwriter.

“I got started singing as an artist about a year ago,” recalls Anjali, whose family moved to Castro Valley from Stockton when she was 10.

“My cousin does my video work. She shot ‘The Bay’ in San Francisco for me. My dad is teaching me song structure, and helps by bringing in musicians. I like every genre and I’m blessed to have a lot of  musical influences in my family. My mom would even play CDs and we’d dance and sing as we cleaned the house.”

Anjali Asha says she likes the fact that her music makes people feel good.

“In a way I think of it as God’s work, helping people have hope in their day,” she says. “It’s the best feeling, and if I can do that for a living, that’s what I want to do.”

You can see her work by typing “Anjali Asha – The Bay” into any internet search engine. Anjali’s You Tube videos, Facebook page, and iTunes connection may all be viewed there.

Officials: Don’t Bring Those Fireworks into Castro Valley
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 06:31

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Fireworks can be purchased in nearby towns, but fines can be hefty for those who set them off in Castro Valley.

By Amy Sylvestri



For a lot of people, fireworks and the Fourth of July go hand-in-hand. But the Alameda County Fire Department and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office are reminding the public that all fireworks are illegal in Castro Valley no matter the holiday.

So-called “Safe and Sane” fireworks are for sale in nearby Dublin and Newark, but even if they can be legally purchased in those neighboring cities, they are illegal to own or set off in Castro Valley, according to Sheriff’s Sgt. J.D. Nelson.

Extra patrols will be out this Friday, July 4, said Nelson. They’ll be looking for people setting off fireworks as well as people who might have had too much to drink.

Nelson said that it is rare for the deputies to arrest anyone for possession of fireworks, but that fines could be issued.

Those fines start at $500 to $1,000, but Nelson said they can be easily compounded by things like fines for improper storage of an explosive or setting off an illegal display. Punishment could include as much as a $50,000 fine and up to three years in jail.

The sheriff’s office depends not only on patrolling officers to catch fireworks violations – it gets dozens of reports throughout the evening from concerned neighbors.

Meanwhile, the fire department says fireworks can be personally dangerous – sparklers burn at 1,200°F, hot enough to cause third degree burns – and dangerous to the community at large.

Nationwide in 2011, almost 18,000 fires were caused by fireworks.

Just last Friday, fireworks were determined to be the likely cause of a small fire in a Castro Valley yard.

At about 6:20 p.m. the fire department was called to a home on Lobert Street near the Castro Valley BART station after a report of an explosion, according to Alameda County fire Department spokeswoman Aisha Knowles.

It was later found that someone had tossed a firecracker over the I-580 sound-wall into the yard. Firefighters extinguished the blaze quickly and no one was injured and no structures were damaged.

Knowles cautioned that fireworks can start fires that can quickly spread through brush and dry grass, especially in a year as dry as this one.

The fire department advises those who want to see fireworks to go see a display put on by experts. This year, fireworks will be put on at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton as well as many other locations (see list of locations on page 4).

Castro Valley Pauses Saturday To Look Back at its History
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 06:48

Castro Valley Boulevard (ascending street) as it appeared in the 1920s. The descending street no longer exists.

By Terry Liebowitz



“The last time I advertised a showing of old Castro Valley home movies, every chair in the CV Library was used and after the standing room  filled, people had to be turned away!” laughs local contractor and film archivist Randy Vanderbilt. “This time the venue should be large enough to handle everyone.”

Randy has joined forces with local author and historian Lucille Lorge to present their Castro Valley Movies and Historic Pop-Up Museum  at the Castro Valley Center for the Arts this Saturday, June 28, from noon to 5 p.m. The Castro Valley Arts Foundation is sponsoring this free event for the whole community.

Lucille’s  photos and write-ups will fill the entire Exhibition Hall in the CFA. She has prepared 20 3-by-4-foot panels depicting different eras of Castro Valley from the 1830s to the 1970s. The newly opened Hayward Area Historical Society has loaned Lucille 28 oversized photos to add to her collection.

Ever the historian, Lucille encourages anyone who has any old Castro Valley photos to bring them to the event. There will be a scanner on site to make copies for the archives.

“Of course, my dream is to have a Castro Valley Museum to display all the materials we have gathered.  My family room is getting pretty crowded,” Lucille says with a grin.

Randy’s movie portion of the afternoon begins at 2:30 p.m. in the CFA Theater. Collecting and editing his films has been an ongoing love fest for Randy.

“You never know when you are going to find something new,” he says. Randy heard that Jerry Toler had a box of his dad Jim’s movies. Jim was long-time owner of the Chabot Theater and had access to camera equipment. Jim made a point of “being there” with his movie camera before and after anything happened in town such as the opening of the Village or the freeway or Cull Canyon.

Ken Carbone discovered a box of film from the 1940s on one of his shelves and Al Proetti shared his early rodeo films with Randy.

Both Randy and Lucille grew up in Castro Valley and their enthusiasm for the community is contagious. Lucille’s great grandfather, Henry Thomford, ran a way station on Grove where he sold a schooner of beer for 5 cents and an acre of land for $100.

Henry’s wife Maria sold her special wiener schnitzel to hungry travelers as they made their way down “B” Street to Robert’s Landing.  Randy’s grandparents moved to Castro Valley during World War II to work in the shipyards and raised their 5 children here.

Arts Foundation President Leslie Rothwell adds, “Be sure and save room for lunch.” A food truck will be on site along with ice cream from Knudsen’s Ice Creamery. Local authors will be selling  and autographing their books. This promises to be a great community event.

Terry Liebowitz is a founding member of the Castro Valley Arts Foundation.

CVHS Awards More than 700 Diplomas to the Class of 2014
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 07:46

Joyful members of the Class of 2014 leap from their seats as the final diploma is presented at Thursday evening’s ceremonies at CVHS Trojan Stadium.

By Amber Simons



The sun was shining in a mostly clear sky and, as a mellow breeze blew through Trojan Stadium Thursday evening, families and friends poured in, filling the bleachers, lining the gated field, cluttering walkways and sitting on stairs.

They had come for an important and an emotional event – the CVHS Class of 2014 graduation ceremony.

The stands were speckled with balloons and handmade signs. A few balloons broke free and floated through the air above the field.

The CVHS Band and Orchestra began to play and promptly at 6:30 p.m., more than 700 graduating students entered the field in a long, single-file line of green caps and gowns and took their seats.

After a brief welcome by Student Body President Rix Linayao, a choir made up of graduating seniors sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and the CVHS Alma Mater.

Graduating senior Michelle Timm then gave a speech in which she told her fellow graduates, “Today is the day that the world becomes ours.”

“The world is changing,” she said. She then spouted some of the major issues facing the world today and asked her classmates, “Can you feel the pressure yet?”

She said they “survived it all” at CVHS and now have the skills necessary to go out into the world.

“Thanks for the adventure, CVHS, now go have another one,” she concluded.

The second speech was by graduating senior Reema Kakaday. She began with a quote from Oprah Winfrey’s 2013 Harvard commencement speech and moved on to describe her graduating class’ evolution from freshmen to seniors.

“We have honed our skill to be brave,” she said. “... We will flourish!”

The speeches were followed by a performance of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” by Kayla Cunningham and Russell Zen, along with the choir seniors and American Sign Language signers.

School Board President Janice Friesen expressed the importance of service and told graduates, “Decide to be happy, live with compassion and openness.”

Senior Class President Erin Cheung then presented the senior class gift, a mosaic mural on the center floor of the high school quad and said the rest of the money would go to financial aid to help other students.

With that, CVHS Principal Mary Ann Valles introduced teachers, staff and board members and thanked parents and guardians of the graduates.

Then, the distribution of diplomas began. The wind picked up as students waited to cross the stage.

When inflatable beach balls began bounced through the air over waiting graduates, teachers quickly scooped them up while students hugged, high-fived and cheered on fellow graduates.

Families and friends blew horns, rang cowbells, screamed and applauded as names were called. Graduates danced, waived and ran off the stage after receiving their diplomas.

After the last name was called, arms and graduation caps were thrown into the air.



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