Work-at-Home Opportunities For Retirees With Computers | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 09:45




By Jim Miller


If you have a computer with high-speed Internet access and a home phone, there are unlimited work-at-home opportunities for retirees depending on your skills and interest.

But beware of scams! Work-at-home scams that offer big paydays without much effort are rampant on the Internet.

The best way to avoid these scams is to use websites that weed out scammers like the ones mentioned in this column, and never invest any of your own money without thoroughly checking out the business with the Better Business Bureau at

It’s also a good idea to use search engines like Google or Bing to research a potential employer to make sure it’s legitimate.

Here are a few popular home-based career opportunities to check out, along with some trustworthy resources to help you search for employment.

• Customer-service agent: These jobs answer inbound customer calls for big companies – you don’t place telemarketing calls. Agents earn an average of $8 to $15 an hour and you can usually set your own hours and pick an employer whose products or services are suited to your knowledge and interests.

To find these jobs see,, and

• Web search evaluator: Most large search engines like Google and Bing rely on home-based evaluators to test the accuracy of online search results, examining different search terms and the websites they turn up. Basic Internet skills are required and the pay ranges between $10 and $15 per hour. See and to apply.

• Tutor: If you’re a college graduate, and have expertise in English, math, science or social studies, you could make money as an online tutor at Tutors work with students from grade school through college and make between $10 and $15 an hour.

• Transcriptionist: If you have good typing skills there are transcriptionist jobs that pay around $10 per hour for typing verbatim accounts of board meetings, presentations, conference calls, etc. Some companies that hire transcriptionists include,, and

• Translation services: If you’re fluent in more than one language you can do interpretation over the phone, or translate documents or audio files not just word for word but often with cultural differences in mind.

Learn about opportunities at,,, and The pay can range from $15 to $40 an hour or more for languages in high demand.

• Write or edit: If you have some writing experience, freelance writing assignments are available online and pay around $10 to $20 an hour. Contact, and for opportunities. Or, if you’re a skilled writer, or have expertise in a particular area like food, travel, art, etc. consider submitting writing samples to magazines, trade publications, newsletters, websites or local newspapers as a freelance writer.

Proofreading is another option, if you have some editing experience this pays $12 to $20 per hour. See and to look for proofreading jobs.

• Selling online: At sites like,, and, you can sell your own stuff or you can purchase items at garage sells, flea markets or online and resell them for a profit.

If you don’t find these options appealing, try, which lists thousands of legitimate work-at-home jobs from nearly 3,700 employers. You can gain access to their listings for $15 for one month, $30 for three months or $50 for a year.

Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.


Young CV Man Dreams of Cannes | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 13 March 2014 14:38




Drew Cathey of CV (bottom right) holds a Silver Tripod Award. His film, “Being A Man,” will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Seated with him is his co-director, Zach Ready. Back row: director of photography Daniel Casillas;  Actress Hayley Goldstein; editor/sound designer Brian Walker; and camera operator/gaffer Mike Lee.


By Linda Sandsmark


A young writer/director from Castro Valley is on his way to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France, bringing his award-winning short film for worldwide debut.

Andrew (Drew) Cathey’s  “Being a Man” was one of only 10 student entries selected from over 6,000 submissions nationwide. He is now busy trying to raise funds to pay for the trip.

Cathey, 22, who graduated from Castro Valley High in 2009 and recently finished San Francisco State University’s film program, won Best Director and Best Drama in the Campus Movie Fest competition this past fall. The competition is the largest student film festival in the U.S. and has a partnership with  the Cannes Film Festival.

The rules of the festival specify that a film be shot and edited within one week. Incredibly, Cathey and his crew shot not one, but two movies during that time period, and both went on to become winners.

“We started about 6 a.m. on a Wednesday, and finished the first film (“Being a Man”) at  3 p.m. the next day,” says Cathey. “We took a two-hour break and then started shooting a comedy (‘The Spot’). We filmed that from six at night until four in the morning. We took the following day as a break, then spent the better part of the next four days editing.”

Cathey says that editing is tough — because as a writer/director he loves every scene that is in the script. Still, some cuts had to be made based on sound, visual quality, continuity or pacing.By the time he left the editing room, he says, “I had no idea what anyone would think of ‘Being a Man’.  It’s  a western drama about a guy who must re-learn what it really means to be a man.”

But at the fall screening, Cathey and co-director Zach Ready won Best Director,  “Being a Man” won Best Drama, and lead actor Brennan Keel Cook won Best Actor. “The Spot” also won Best Comedy.

“My team stole the show!” says Cathey.

He’s particularly proud of “Being A Man,” because he had never shot a drama before. Now he’s determined to accompany both of his films to Cannes, and appreciates everyone who has given him a hand so far.

In fact, the movie came about because he was a Cutco knife salesman for about five years, and one of his customers has a huge ranch in Livermore.

“She offered to let me film there. She was gracious enough to let me do just about anything I wanted, as long as I didn’t burn down the shed. I wrote the script for that setting,” he says.

The actors and crew are all people he knew through S.F. State.

Anyone interested in helping Cathey make the trip to Cannes may visit the website Indiegogo (

The page can also be reached by typing “help-andrew-get-to-cannes-film-festival” in any search engine. Cathey’s goal is to raise $4,000 to pay for the trip.

“Castro Valley is a really close-knit community, and I’m really looking for 400 people who can  donate $10,” he says. “I’m not looking for a few people to donate a thousand dollars, although that would be great if it happened. I’m more interested in reaching as many people as I can.”

Career-wise, now is the time for Cathey to meet other filmmakers,  and Cannes is the perfect place to do that.

“I’m going to make it happen,” he says. “It’s a huge opportunity and I can’t pass it up. My long-term goal is to make movies and have fun doing it.”




Tuesday, 11 March 2014 10:46



Heavy black smoke rose over Castro Valley shortly before 4 p.m. Monday when fire engulfed a detached garage at 17730 Almond Road. The fire was extinguished within 10 minutes by several units from the Alameda County Fire Department which is investigating the cause. The garage and its contents were destroyed.


Man Fatally Shot By Deputies | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 10:16




By Amy Sylvestri


A 60-year-old man who had called police to his home almost 20 times in the past was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies following another 911 call Monday night in San Lorenzo.

At around 9:30 p.m., medical emergency personnel were called to 97 Paseo Grande for a man reportedly suffering from seizures, according to Sgt. J.D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

About 30 minutes later, the emergency medical team that was treating him called for police backup when the man became combative, Nelson said.

Deputies had been called to the home numerous times over the past two years for domestic disputes, reports of drunkenness and other disturbances.

On this occasion, as medical technicians tried to offer aid, the man shoved them off and ran back into his home, according to Nelson, who said deputies then entered the home with shotguns and other weapons.

Inside the home, the man armed himself with a baseball bat and hit one armed deputy, causing him to drop his shotgun. Other deputies then shot the suspect multiple times and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The sheriff’s office had not released the man’s name by Tuesday evening. An autopsy is scheduled for later this week.

No deputies or emergency personnel were injured.

The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on routine leave pending the investigation.



$6 Million Digital Arts Studio Opens on Friday | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 10:01



The Bay Area Digital Arts Studio in San Lorenzo occupies the space where a National Guard Armory once stood.

By Linda Sandsmark

The San Lorenzo Unified School District will unveil its new Bay Area Digital Arts (BADA) studio this Friday, which was built on Ashland Avenue where a National Guard Armory once stood.  School officials hope the studio will help students connect with companies and individuals to create partnerships in learning.

“The district has created an industry-standard professional recording space and digital arts studio for its students to learn in,” says Lance McVay, BADA’s  co-lead teacher.

“We also want the community to be involved. We want industry professionals in the Bay Area to use the facility, and they’ll get reduced rates if students can be involved or observe production.”

The official ribbon-cutting takes place this Friday, with student-led tours for some 200 invited guests.

The digital arts program is one of San Lorenzo High’s small learning communities, as part of the California Partnership Academies network. It is funded by a state grant to tie the media curriculum to core curriculum,  preparing students for careers or college after high school.

The BADA studio cost $6 million, made possible through a Career Technical Education Facilities grant from the state, with matching funds provided through Measure O, a 2008 voter-approved bond measure.

The new building houses state-of-the-art media production space. It will be available to regional businesses on a rental basis, although the emphasis at the academy is on-the-job training in media. Local employers who wish to partner with the BADA program by guest speaking, offering internships, etc. will be offered reduced rental rates.

For more information, contact Barbara Billich at the San Lorenzo School District, 317-4707, or by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Strike Ban Discussion Next Week | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 10:00




An advisory ballot measure to ban strikes by transit workers will be among the topics at BART’s first nighttime board of directors meeting next week.

As a pilot program to encourage more public attendance and participation, the board is scheduling five meetings at 5 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month through June. The first will be on Feb. 27.

Board President Joel Keller will lead the discussion on his dispute-resolution proposal which would prohibit work stoppages like those that occurred twice last year. Keller will seek input from other board members and the public on the controversial idea.

Meantime, at last Thursday’s board meeting, directors approved the hiring of a consultant to investigate the contentious months-long labor negotiations which led to those two chaotic four-day strikes.

“The goal of the evening meetings is to provide a more convenient opportunity for members of the public to weigh in on important decisions that affect their commute,” said BART Director Rebecca Saltzman, one of the leading voices for the night meetings. “We are eager to hear from BART riders and residents of the district, and we encourage people to attend the meetings to share their views.”

Next Thursday evening’s meeting will also include a presentation on BART’s funding priorities for the next fiscal year and an update on the proposed Livermore extension.

The board, which also meets at 9 a.m. on the second Thursday of every month, will place topics with the most public interest and impact on the agendas of the night meetings.

“Several important issues that are relevant to the public are coming before the board in the near future and we want to provide the public an accessible opportunity to convey their views as we decide on these issues,” said Director Zakhary Mallett, who also pushed for the trial run of evening meetings.

Members of the public can, of course, attend all board meetings. They are held in the BART Board Room on the third floor of the Kaiser Center 20th Street Mall at 20th and Webster in Oakland. The agenda is released to the public on the preceding Friday and can be found online at

BART Police will provide safety escorts from the board meeting room to the 19th Street BART station.



Retrofiting to Begin on lake chabot dam | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 12:31



A section of the aging Lake Chabot Dam due for quake retrofitting over the next several years.


By Amy Sylvestri


The East Bay Municipal Utility District has just started a years-long project to seismically retrofit the dam at Lake Chabot. Built in the late 1800s, the dam is situated deep in Lake Chabot Park near the Castro Valley-San Leandro border. It extends about 23 feet above the lake’s water level and acts as a backup reservoir for Castro Valley and other parts of the East Bay.

The dam itself will be strengthened to eliminate any slumping issues that could potentially occur in an earthquake. Also, some of the mechanical parts that open and close the dam will be moved farther away from the structure, so that they wouldn’t be damaged if they shifted during an earthquake.

“These types of projects are always long-term,” said EBMUD spokeswoman Michelle Blackwell. “This is something that’s been in the works for years.”

The environmental impact report for the retrofit is now being finalized, with an eye to construction starting around this time next year. But even if a large earthquake were to hit tomorrow, the chances of any problems with the dam are slim.

“It’s a seismic upgrade, but people should be aware that the dam is safe,” said Blackwell. “It’s just so much more expensive to repair something after the fact than to try to prevent it in the first place.”

When construction does start, it will be necessary to close large portions of the popular 10-mile hiking loop that goes around Lake Chabot, beginning around the fall of 2015.

“It just wouldn’t be safe to have an open path while the work is being done,” said Blackwell. But because the project could take over a year, the trail may be open periodically during the work.

Because it is a large and lengthy project, EBMUD invites those interested to sign up for email updates by contacting This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 510-287-2053.



Deal is in the Works to Sell Daughtrey Site | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 12:25


By Linda Sandsmark


It may come down to money. Although demolishing the former Daughtrey’s Department Store building to create a new town square may be a fine idea, could Castro Valley afford it?

That was the question debated at last week’s meeting of Castro Valley’s Municipal Advisory Committee (MAC).

A group of local residents, headed by Peter Rosen, presented a proposal to transform the area next to Knudsen’s Ice Creamery into an open green space where people could meet to chat, eat ice cream, and hold outdoor events.

However, developer David Greensfelder is already in negotiations with the county to buy the building, remodel it, and rent it out. The vacant store’s current estimated value is between $950,000 and $1 million.

“The question really is, what is the best thing that can enhance Castro Valley’s downtown and be commercially viable?” said Greensfelder.

Demolishing and clearing the site would cost approximately $500,000. Greensfelder said it would not make economic sense to tear down the building, which he said is fundamentally sturdy.

He suggested that one large retailer plus a smaller restaurant could go into the space, and that BevMo, several restaurants and sports entertainment businesses had approached him about possibly becoming tenants.

MAC Chairman Marc Crawford summed up the dilemma: If a plaza were to be built instead of a retail establishment, the first $1 million would have to be found to buy the property, another $500,000 would be needed to remove the vacant building, and then more funds would be required to build and maintain the plaza. He estimated that over $4 million might  have to be spent at a time when county funds are scarce.

Many in the audience spoke in support of the plaza plan, and some also expressed doubts that remodeling the 50-year-old building could make it attractive regardless.

Ernie Daughtrey, whose family originally owned Daughtrey’s Department Store, said they have come under a lot of criticism for the current state of affairs, but that it was not his family’s fault. He said they sold their company to a department store chain out of Cleveland years ago and that it is out of their hands.

“We exhausted every option we had,” said Daughtrey.

Over the last two decades the property has housed a pool hall, Disney outlet and Halloween stores, but mostly remained vacant.  Although the timeline for ownership of the troubled property is convoluted, it was most recently purchased in 2011 by taxpayers using $2.8 million in Redevelopment Agency funds. The county could then recoup as much of that money as possible by finding a suitable buyer to upgrade the site.

Now that the Redevelopment Agency has been disbanded, taxpayers might essentially pay for the same property twice if Castro Valley has to purchase the land for a plaza. The Daughtrey’s building is one of 12 properties in Alameda County left in limbo by the shuttering of the states’ redevelopment agencies.

All five MAC members in attendance last Tuesday night said they support open space and like the idea of a plaza, but paying for it is a larger issue.

“How much money is it, and where is that money going to come from?” asked council member Cheryl Miraglia, who said that if citizens aren’t ready to step up and pay for it, the future is uncertain for a downtown plaza.

Ultimately, the MAC members recommended that plaza supporters return once they assess what it would take to fund and create a town square. They were also asked to define specific uses for the site. In the meantime, negotiations on the Daughtrey building will continue between the county and Greensfelder Commercial Real Estate.



580 Crashes Tuesday: CHP Officer Injured, Fwy Traffic Snarled | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 12:23


Two bad accidents on I-580 snarled freeway traffic in both directions for several hours yesterday.

A California Highway Patrol officer, assisting drivers of two stalled vehicles on I-580 in the afternoon, was struck and injured when a third car crashed into the stalled vehicles.

The accident occurred around 2 p.m. in the eastbound lanes near Fairmont Drive. The officer and at least two other persons were taken to Eden Hospital for treatment. No other details were immediately available.

Earlier in the day, a pickup truck pulling a horse trailer collided with a big rig at about 11 a.m.  in the westbound lanes of I-580 near the Strobridge Ave. off-ramp.

A horse in the trailer suffered undetermined injuries. The accident shut down most of the westbound lanes of the freeway until about 12:30 p.m.



County Crime: Drop in Home Burglaries in 2013 | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 12:20



By Linda Sandsmark


Crime in the County was down in many categories last year, according to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

In a report to the Municipal Advisory Council last week, sheriff’s officials said home burglaries were down 34 percent in 2013 compared to the year before. Robberies were down 20 percent and vandalism was down 30 percent during the same period.

Deputies advised citizens to be aware of their surroundings, and to call 510-667-7721 if they ever see people where they should not be, particularly at night.

“You’re never wasting our time,” said Deputy Marcus Cox.

The deputies also advised residents to be aware of scams, including people trying to gain access to homes by posing as inspectors or workmen. All utility workers carry proper photo identification, and residents should call the utility if any unsolicited workers ask to enter their houses.

Parents were urged to be aware of what their children are doing online. Police have seen an increase in child predators who meet their targets using the Internet.

Cox also mentioned that deputies have recently made contact with 38 homeless people in three encampments in Castro Valley. One of the largest is the area from Grove Way down to Crow Canyon Road where about 20 people live. Although four were arrested for law violations, many of those without homes were just down on their luck.

The officers said they are trying to identify the needs of the homeless, referring some to housing programs, and others to drug and alcohol programs, since many substance abusers eventually steal or burglarize cars and homes to support their habit.




Drought Watch | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 21 February 2014 12:50



The continuing drought has lowered the level of EBMUD’s water storage areas, like the Upper San Leandro Reservoir, above, but EBMUD is in better shape than many water districts in the state because of long-range planning.


Freshly fallen snow from last week’s late-arriving storms brightened the scenery in the Sierra, but did little to ease California’s worsening drought.

The winter’s second snow survey on Thursday found far too little water in the still scant snowpack.

“This winter remains dry, making it very unlikely our record drought will be broken this year,” said Water Resources Director Mark Cowin. “Now more than ever, we all need to save every drop we can in our homes and places of work.”

Manual and electronic readings recorded the snowpack’s statewide water content at only 12 percent of average for this time of year, the lowest since record-keeping began in 1960.

The dismal readings prompted state officials on Friday to take the unprecedented step of announcing plans to halt distribution of water supplies to cities and farms. If the cuts occur, it would mean the State Water Project that helps supply a majority of Californians may be unable to make any deliveries except to maintain public health and safety.

“Today’s action is a stark reminder that California’s drought is real.,” said Gov. Jerry Brown following Friday’s announcement. “We’re taking every possible step to prepare the state for the continuing dry conditions we face.”

In addition, Cal Fire announced it has hired 125 additional firefighters to help address the increased fire threat due to drought conditions, and the Public Health Department has offered assistance to communities at risk of severe drinking water shortages.


PRETTY, BUT TOO LITTLE: Freshly fallen snow from late-arriving storms brightened the Sierra for snow surveyors Thursday, but did little to put a dent in California’s record drought as it pushes into its third consecutive year. Readings recorded the snowpack’s water content at only 12 percent of average for the date.


Civil Leader Sal Tedesco Passes Away | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 21 February 2014 12:45


By Steven Dimick




Salvatore “Sal” Tedesco, a native of San Francisco’s North Beach, lifelong government servant, lover equally of football and opera and a 45-year resident of Castro Valley, died at his home on January 25, 2014.

Tedesco moved his family to Castro Valley in 1969, and following his retirement in 1985 after 30 years of government work, immersed himself in local affairs. But in addition to his civic duties, he is remembered by his friends and colleagues as a raconteur, a singer, a lover of all things Italian and a tireless worker.

“What I really admired about him was the passion with which he lived every aspect of his life,” remembered Bruce Johnson, Superintendent of Redwood Christian Schools and a longtime fellow Rotarian with Tedesco. “There are some people who are passionate only about their pet passions and other people who don’t know how to live life other than with passion in everything they do.”

Born to immigrant parents from Naples, Italy, he developed his passion for life and politics at an early age, according to Sylvia Tedesco, his wife of nearly 63 years.

“He grew up fascinated with politics,” she said. “His family always had these big emotional and political discussions going on. There was one uncle in particular who just hated Roosevelt and always called him ‘the cripple’ in Italian. Sal just loved being a part of it.”

Other friends recall how he would regale them with stories of his father, a North Beach grocer, whom Tedesco claimed was a local Mafioso, about his ever-willingness to sing the “Cal Drinking Song” and about his co-hosting the “surprise” birthday party his wife threw for him every December 23.

Barely two years after his graduation from U.C. Berkeley, Tedesco became city manager of Santa Cruz and was instrumental in winning the decision to locate the newest U.C. campus in that city.

In 1962 he joined the first wave of volunteers for the new Peace Corps, and worked closely with director Sargent Shriver in establishing programs for much of East Africa. A later job with the Department of Housing and Urban Development brought him to the Bay Area, where he and his family settled in Castro Valley.

Always “deeply interested and deeply involved,” according to his wife, he dove into civic affairs after retirement with his typical...passion, serving on and chairing committees ranging from the Municipal Advisory Committee to Rotary committees to Chamber of Commerce committees.

“I sometimes tried to discourage him,” Sylvia Tedesco joked, “but he felt he could make a difference.”

As chairman of the Castro Valley Downtown Specific Development Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, “he sort of steered us through the whole process, largely due to his background in Santa Cruz,” said Roberta Rivet, former Chairman of the Board and former Executive Director of the chamber, who served with Tedesco on the committee.“I was so impressed with him. I just don’t know anyone else who could have done it other than Sal.”

Another area in which he tried to make a difference was incorporating Castro Valley as a city, chairing the group known as Citizens for Castro Valley (“keeping the dream alive,” as he put it) from the first failed incorporation attempt in the late 1980s to the last one in 2002. Still, however, he declined to chair the political campaign leading up to the vote of the citizens in 2002 and made it clear that he was not running for any office.

“He didn’t have to be the key person in a project to give 100 percent,” remembered Johnson. “Whether it was Rotary or the Rodeo Parade or anything else, he didn’t require any recognition – but he was still a leader. And he was an outstanding example of what a leader needs to be in this day and age.”

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley moved, at the Board of Supervisors meeting on January 28, 2014, to adjourn the meeting in Tedesco’s honor.





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