New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 20 - Section 2

October 3, 2004

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos

Mexican Heritage
Plaza Mural

More mural photos


At ARUMC for Community Day

Getting your
face painted


NNV Refrigerator Magnet
or Computer Sticker

Grocery Cart Derby
On The Avenue



What changed
On The Road?






Impatiens -
after the deer



This is one
smart blonde!



Mario's & Marco's
new facade

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A Notable Neighbor – Re-Noted!

Spaulding Norris trades hillside living for smaller home on a flat lot

Having a home in the hills overlooking the scenic views of the Santa Clara Valley is a dream which tantalizes many people, but most of us probably don’t consider the downside to having a home which clings to the side of a steep slope. Youthful people with springy joints and unlimited energy can navigate the inclined driveways and precipitous stairways, but there inevitably comes a time when the years take away once-perfect balance and render hillside dwellers unable to meet the challenge. NNV is watching the demographics change in the East Highlands as neighbor after neighbor finds it necessary to relocate to flatter ground. And, of course, in every case, there is a wrench of an adjustment to be made – and a sad loss of longtime neighbors. Our neighborhood’s most recent casualty is Spaulding Norris, a warm, friendly human being who lived among us for thirty-five years. Spaulding moved on last month, but his goodness lingers on.

Spaulding and his wonderful wife Gail moved to San Jose from the Florida Keys in the late 1960’s, but you wouldn’t hear a drawl out of them because they originally were Midwesterners. They moved to Florida and eventually California to make life easier for Gail whose health suffered in the rigors of Midwestern winters. They bought a 1937-model house on Highland Drive and enthusiastically joined the community. Both Spaulding and Gail engaged in activities at Foothill Presbyterian Church, both were painters (Gail in watercolors and acrylics, Spaulding in oils) and animals lovers. Gail took up weaving with the instruction of hillside guru Pat Rackstraw and became a ceramist as well. Her passion for seashells, and marine life in general, led her to create numerous sea-flavored compositions which hung on the walls of their home long after she passed away fifteen years ago – until Spaulding moved on in mid-September.

Spaulding’s “volunteer jobs” are what have made his life so remarkable. He was active in the Humane Society’s Hug-a-Pet program spending about ten years of his life taking “Fella” a ninety-pound Great Pyrenees/border collie mix to visit handicapped children and elderly people confined to shelters and “homes.” Fella’s enthusiastic licks and kisses brought smiles to the faces of many thousands of depressed and sad-faced recipients. Spaulding still gets misty-eyed at the thought of Fella’s powers to bring sunshine into so many lives. Of course, it was Spaulding who drove Fella, the therapy dog, from home to home to make his canine ministry possible. Click here for a painting of Fella by Emily Horch, a friend from Foothill Presbyterian, as well as a photo of Fella and Spaulding.

In the August, 2003, edition of NNV we ran a story about Spaulding which was shared by the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, an organization which Spaulding helped to found after the need for it came to light during his and Gail’s volunteer work with the Humane Society. That story told of Spaulding’s efforts to relocate injured and rehabilitated wild animals for WCSV. He and Gail literally drove all over the state to put animals in the milieu which was best suited for them. And, after Gail was gone, Spaulding drove on with just his dog by his side. Click here to read the original story.

If after reading the foregoing, you think that Spaulding’s life sounds full-to-brimming, you need to know that he also spent around ten years as a member of Foothill Presbyterian’s “Building and Grounds Commission.” He just gave up that duty about a year ago. However, his giving is not over. Now he makes a weekly visit to Foothill’s Pre-School to spend time with four-year-olds, “reading, showing pictures, giving out stickers, teaching about marine life and working in a little Bible notation,” he says, “but very little of the latter – these are four-year-olds, after all!”

Now almost ninety years old, Spaulding, with his ubiquitous baseball cap (to retard sunburn from his shiny scalp, he says) and his deaf old dog, Penny, have moved to a little house on a flat lot in the Morrill/Hostetter neighborhood. We think they both will dream of the magical sunsets and twinkling city lights which they enjoyed from the deck of their hill-clinging home, but Spaulding will rejoice in his nice flat driveway when he goes out to get the mail!

Click here to see our photos of Spaulding during his last days on Highland Drive.

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Fall Leaves

By Spencer Olsson Nitkey

Fall Leaves (Fall, 2003)

They can be brown
They’re on the ground
If you step on them
They make a sound
You rake them up
You rake them down
Just look down
You’ll see them on the ground
Fall leaves

NNV Note: Spencer Nitkey lives in Glen Rock, New Jersey, but has close ties to San Jose. His grandmother is Comfort Olsson of Country Club Heights. Spencer began writing notable poetry last year at age seven. Says Grandmother Comfort, “Perhaps I’m just a doting grandmother, but through my years of friendship with (poet) John Leary, I believe I learned a lot about poetry and I think Spencer is darned good at it.” NNV agrees and will share more of Spencer’s work in future editions. Comfort says that, for the moment, Spencer has abandoned his poetry efforts and plans for a life in the Sciences – curing cancer specifically. He’s now eight years old.

Click here for a photo of Spencer.

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Eleanor Roosevelt in San Jose

Seems “W” could learn something about “Post fallout programs” from Eleanor!

“A prepared government and country can afford to negotiate for world peace”

Reporter Carol Schultz covers “The World’s First Lady” at San Jose City College.

From the Mayfair Weekly, Thursday, December 21, 1961.

We experienced a rare privilege last week when we had the opportunity to hear Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt at San Jose City College. We admittedly arrived at the lecture determined to like her, because our husband (Democrat that he is) accused us of having no tolerance (being Republican and all)* for the Democratic Party. Therefore, we were going to prove him wrong, but we had no idea it would be so easy, since Mrs. Roosevelt never even mentioned U.S. party politics.

Mrs. Roosevelt entered the men’s gym (where the lecture was held) and was greeted with a standing ovation. We had excellent front seats, even if they were in the bleachers, and when Mrs. Roosevelt passed in front of us, we were taken aback. She didn’t look at all like a world renowned personage---which she is, but more like a kindly, beloved grandmother---which she is.

The topic of her lecture was “Is America Facing World Leadership?” From the way she expressed her views and experiences, it was easily apparent why she has been called “First Lady of the World.” She was well qualified to pick such a topic, as she has been received by world leaders the world over, not only as the wife of the late F. D. Roosevelt, but in her own right as a past delegate to the U.N. and, even more important, an humanitarian.

Building a peaceful world is not possible unless we understand the world, Mrs. Roosevelt emphasized. To understand the world, one must understand why people act as they do. And the ideal way to achieve this is to live among foreign people. This is why the Peace Corps is so valuable---not because of what we can do for these people, but for the understanding we gain of their way of life which comes from living among them. As for the ingratitude of some of the nations we have helped, Mrs. Roosevelt said we do things in our own interest and not out of goodwill. It is in our interest to win over to our side those neutral countries, as yet uncommitted to either the Communist or Democratic side. We must live up to the best of the democratic concept.

Mrs. Roosevelt spent some time in Moscow where she had the opportunity to observe Russian ways. She said the Russians start to educate their children in discipline starting from the age of two months. She cited how Russian people were rewarded with more money for each additional language they were able to master. When she pointed out to Nikita Khruschev that this was a capitalist incentive, he shrugged it off.

At the end of her excellent lecture, there were a few questions from the floor. One question---and her answer---intrigued us. Mrs. Roosevelt was asked what she thought of fallout shelters. Her answer was “I am 77 years old. Therefore, fallout shelters hold no attractions for me.” She qualified this statement, however, with her endorsement for government sponsored shelters ONLY if the government prepared people with a POST fallout program as well. She said a prepared government and country can afford to negotiate for world peace.

Mrs. Roosevelt signed autographs after her lecture, but we couldn’t get close enough to get one. We were pleased to see so many young people in the audience, in fact, we were escorted ourself by a young City College student, Jim Carlson, the editor’s son. We were afraid Jim would be uncomfortable since he was more or less pushed into transporting us to the lecture, but he seemed to enjoy it as much as we. Afterward, Jim said, “Doesn’t Mrs. Roosevelt make you feel small?” We know what he meant: in the presence of a woman who has met and influenced the people who lead our world’s destiny, one does feel small. She’s a great woman---and we’re not prejudiced.

Click here to see how the Eleanor Roosevelt article looked and a photo of Carol Schultz.

* NNV Note: Carol Schultz says that she eventually changed her mind and changed party after Ronald Reagan’s second term as president.

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NNV Briefs

bulletSmithsonian Exhibit at the Mexican Heritage Plaza – Free! And a new wall mural!
bulletARUMC’s Annual Community Sunday - Smiling People, Tasty (Free!) Food ...
bulletPACT Candidates Forum on Public Education, hold officials accountable!
bulletCounty Historical Commission - Less onerous Preservation Ordinance by Edward Allegretti
bullet Alum Rock Youth Center’s 1st Anniversary Celebration Breakfast
bullet On the Avenue (Alum Rock Avenue)
bullet On the Road (McKee Road)
bullet Wing it to the YSI Wildlife Festival in Alum Rock Park
bulletSuper Sunday Party Benefits Youth Science Institute
bulletAlum Rock Park “Stars” on PBS TV! Did you watch Huell Howser and Ranger Jane Lawson?

Smithsonian Exhibit at the Mexican Heritage Plaza – Free!

Achieving Latin role models inspire children and youth to succeed

Visit new wall mural while sharing this exhibit with your youngsters

Arriving from its first showing in Chicago, an inspiring exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution came to the gallery of the Mexican Heritage Plaza in mid-September. “Our Journeys/Our Stories: Portraits of Latino Achievement” includes portraits of twenty-four individual Latinos plus one extended family. All of the featured people were “inspired by something in their culture that made them want to achieve,” according to Laura Esparza, the Plaza’s interim executive director.

Among these achievers is one-time James Lick High School student, playwright and director, Luis Valdez who took his inspiration from his role model, labor leader Cesar Chavez.

In an interview with the Mercury News, Ms. Esparza explained that, “This is the kind of exhibit … that will speak directly to children and youth about how important it is to become a success in the world – how important family is, how important education is – and that it can be done.”

The exhibit is open to the public, free of charge and will be at the Plaza until November 27th. The gallery is open 3-7 PM Tuesdays through Fridays, noon to 4 PM Saturdays and Sundays.

The Mexican Heritage Plaza is at 1700 Alum Rock Avenue at the corner of King Road. There’s plenty of free parking reached either from Alum Rock or King.

While you’re there, don’t miss the exciting new mural on the west wall of the Plaza (facing King Road). Covering perhaps forty or fifty feet of the wall, the creation includes a knock-your-socks-off color palette and riveting scenes from Mexican allegories. Click here for some photos of the new mural.

For more information, click here for the MHP Web site or call the Plaza’s events hotline at (800) MHC-VIVA.

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Smiling People, Tasty (Free!) Food, Hip Music, Meaningful Messages

ARUMC’s Annual Community Sunday

A sunny Sunday morning featuring San Jose’s natural air conditioning (agonizingly absent during the preceding days), live jazz, inspired sermonizing-on-the-lawn by Pastor Mary Parker Eves, a free hot dog lunch, and lots and lots o’ smiling people were the main ingredients for Alum Rock Community Day on September 12th. The lawn and courtyard of Alum Rock United Methodist Church teemed with congregants and neighbors for a special program of outreach to the neighborhood which also featured many community organizations introducing themselves.

There were Scouts of all stripes painting faces (and other extremities) and some leading games with educational silver linings. A representative of Planned Parenthood was there with voter registration applications as well as information about the Teen Success program for young teen parents. A member of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous gave out brochures. The United Methodist Women and Eastside FISH had tables with information. The other congregations which hold their services at ARUMC had representatives available to make newcomers welcome. A HealthTrust representative handed out flyers explaining free and low cost family health insurance.

ARUSD School Board trustee, Tanya Freudenberger, invited participation in a survey questionnaire which she hopes to take back to the school district to show them just what’s important to the community. NNV shared a table with FA and the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council which gave out its Living With Fire brochure, and NNV gave out refrigerator magnets replete with our Web address. Want one? Click here to print one for yourself (no, the magnet won't print with it) or we can mail you one with a magnet if you send us a self-addressed stamped envelope – 37 cents – to NNV, 16174 Highland Drive, SJ 95127.

Everyone went home full of shaved ice, hot dogs, salad, chips & salsa, cantaloupe and cookies. Everyone’s pockets and purses were stuffed with brochures and goodies. It was a real Community Day.

Click here for photos from this event.

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Candidates Forum on Public Education

Help PACT hold potential school board officials accountable!

PACT (People Acting in Community Together) has organized a comprehensive meeting at which School Board candidates from East Side Union and San Jose Unified School Districts, and the County Board of Education, will all be available, under one roof, to introduce themselves and be challenged in a public forum. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Mayor Ron Gonzales will also take part.

PACT will press the would-be leaders of our high schools to face up to the realities of what the future holds for our youngsters. What will their response be to the fact that 6,000 high school aged youth in Santa Clara County are NOT enrolled in school? How will they improve the statistic that only 45% of our county’s students graduate from high school with the credits necessary to get into a UC or CSU school? What will be their remedy for the fact that only 20% of Latino students graduate with enough credits to get into a UC or CSU school? How will they justify the fact that there are not enough alternative schools to serve the youngsters who need them?

The forum will take place on Saturday morning, October 16th from 10:30 AM until 12:30 PM at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church which is at 2040 Nassau Drive (off Cunningham Avenue near Overfelt High School). For more information, call PACT at (408) 998-8001.

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County Historical Heritage Commission Meets Again

Less onerous Preservation Ordinance discussion continues

By Edward Allegretti, Member, Historical Heritage Commission of Santa Clara County

The Historical Heritage Commission of Santa Clara County met on September 16, 2004. This was a “workshop” as opposed to a regular commission meeting. This basically means that the commissioners could not vote or take any official action.

What we did was review many parts of the proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance and gave our suggestions to Dana Peak, the Historical Heritage Coordinator. At the October meeting she will present a draft of the ordinance, reflecting these changes, to the commission for our review.

Since this draft will incorporate our recommended changes, we hope that the meeting will go quickly and the recommended changes officially (by motion and vote) will be approved. If this does occur as hoped for next month, I think we’ll have a public hearing in December, then move the ordinance along to the planning commission, which must review it before it is given to the Board of Supervisors.

The commission will meet next on October 21st, 6:30 PM, in the Supervisors' Chambers in the County Office Building.

Click here for the Santa Clara County Planning Office Web site for the proposed ordinance and here for the meeting agendas and archived reports. Click here for our September article on this subject. Comments or questions can be e-mailed to Ed Allegretti at or to the Historical Heritage Coordinator, Dana Peak, at Watch our Community Bulletin Board for the latest information on the HHC meetings.

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Alum Rock Youth Center’s 1st Anniversary Celebration Breakfast

All you can eat for $5.00

Alum Rock Youth Center’s 1st Anniversary Breakfast Celebration and Fundraiser will be on Saturday, October 23 from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM. Yes, this is a fundraiser but you get all you can eat for $5.00.

And this is a good opportunity to see our newest and very impressive youth center at 137 North White Road (just north of James Lick High School). For tickets, please contact Queen Ann Cannon (408) 251-5757.

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On the Avenue (Alum Rock Avenue)

This month’s scenic photos of Alum Rock Avenue features three contenders in the Grocery Cart Derby. Somehow they all pooped out right on the corner of The Avenue at Pickford. It’s amazing how their drivers could just disloyally abandon their disabled chariots in such a heartless manner. Click here to see the photos.

They look so dejected. Wouldn’t it be a great service if their drivers pushed them back to the store from whence they came? Perhaps there should be a reward for returned carts? Or maybe the offending drivers should spend some time here?  Use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition.

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On the Road (McKee Road)

The first entry in the NNV “On the Road” category - featuring something remarkable on McKee Road - is photos of something that isn’t there. Click here for the photos. What don’t you see? For one thing, you don’t see all the trucks and workers who have been almost a constant near Country Club Villa shopping center.

But, that’s not it. There’s something absent from the sky around the corner of McKee and Toyon. What’s newly missing is something that is ubiquitously present in San Jose, but delightfully absent in tonier towns. You’ve guessed it! ALL the utility wires are gone and so are all the tacky old wooden poles. All that’s left are the more graceful metal poles which support the street and parking lot lights. Country Club Villa suddenly looks like a million bucks!

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Wing it to the YSI Wildlife Festival in Alum Rock Park

Walk, run or fly to the Youth Science Institute’s 19th Annual Wildlife Festival on Sunday, October 17th, 2004. The Wildlife Festival is a free family event from 11:00am to 4:00pm at Alum Rock Park in San Jose.

Enjoy a live animal presentation, the “Art and Science of Falconry” and meet a hawk, falcon and owl. Presenters from Falcon’s Court will perform in medieval attire and manner during this educational and entertaining event. They will also provide a bird flight demonstration.

Throughout the day, several exciting venues will be presented by Youth Science Institute instructors, they include:

• A talk on live birds of prey

• An overview on the animals of Alum Rock Park

• Nature hikes with an emphasis on the flora and fauna of the park.

Storytelling, nature crafts, hands-on science, food and fun activities are scheduled for all ages. In addition, more than 20 environmental organizations will provide educational exhibits and scheduled talks including: BAARS (Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society), Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, and a puppet show by the Santa Clara Water District.

The park entrance fee is $6 per vehicle. For more information call YSI at (408) 258-4322 or visit our website at YSI is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching children K-12 the wonders of science and nature for the past 51 years. This event is sponsored in part by the City of San Jose.

NNV will have a table at this event. This is your opportunity to meet some of the NNV writers and photographers - please come by our table and let us know which neighborhood issues are important to you.

Click here for some photos from last year’s festival.  We do expect the SJFD Shark Engine to be at the festival again but it's too early to be sure yet.

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Super Sunday Party Benefits Youth Science Institute

The Deckers welcome scores of YSI supporters to their splendid home

The Sunday afternoon garden party at Gil and Sandy Decker’s delightful Queen Anne Craftsman home in Los Gatos was a superb event – perfect in every detail. There were many, many Eastside connections to this occasion even if it was held on the opposite side of the valley from our neighborhood. It was a lavish benefit for the Youth Science Institute, the parent organization of our YSI Nature Center in Alum Rock Park. Gil Decker and the Decker off-spring have strong connections with the Alum Rock Park area.

In the November edition of NNV, we’ll fill in the details of the story and share the photos we took of the Deckers’ museum-quality artwork as well as scenes of the garden and interiors of their home. Meanwhile, just to tantalize NNV readers a bit, here are two photos taken at the September 26th event.

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Alum Rock Park “Stars” on PBS TV!

Mother Nature and YSI kids - at their best

Huell Howser and Ranger Jane Lawson, lead actors

Well, did you see it? Good old Alum Rock Park showed off her soft, sensual, golden curves and magnificent oaks for Huell Howser and for all the world to see – or at least for the viewers of PBS TV’s California’s Golden Parks. KQED’s Wednesday, September 29th at 2:00 PM timeslot was just as awkward as we feared, but hopefully, fans of Mother Nature’s splendid San Jose canyon, made plans to record the half hour show and are enjoying the program at a more reasonable hour.

It was simply fascinating to view the finished production after we watched the program being created. NNV was not more than ten feet behind Huell Howser, Ranger Jane Lawson, Park Supervisor Mike McClintock and the cameraman (as a matter of fact, several times we had to be shushed because Huell’s mike was picking up our what-we-thought-were hushed voices). So, we saw the numerous elements as they were filmed and can really appreciate the editing which went into the show.

Of course, the park didn’t really show up on film as beautiful as she was in reality that day. It was one of those utterly perfect spring days when the trees and grass in the areas around the Visitors’ Center and YSI were freshly greened up and shiny with their new leaves. To say it was pristine would not be an exaggeration. An NNV friend who lives in Orange County and saw the film weeks before we did (!) let us know that the show (and the park) looked “marvelous.”

What seemed most impressive to us was the way the show’s producers blended in antique postcards and scenes from the old film, “Valley of Heart’s Delight” which showed the park as it was in its glory days when there was a swimming pool, an aviary, a bandstand, a zoo and a carousel. They seamlessly went from kids in 2004 being taught about nature by YSI teachers to ladies in big hats and bustles promenading among the lacey Victorian buildings which were San Jose’s answer to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

If you didn’t see it – or record it – there will be at least one more opportunity in April, 2005, when KCSM says they will broadcast it some day at 5:00 PM. If we know far enough in advance the exact day, we’ll give you a heads-up. However, you may prefer to lobby KQED – Channel 9, to have them show it again at an hour when folks are home. Doesn’t it seem appropriate that the show, which features one of the very best of the Bay Area’s attributes be shown in prime time in the Bay Area? You can contact KQED at

Click here to see what we wrote about the filming and the photos we took. Use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition. If you’re interested, click here to purchase the video of the Alum Rock Park episode or see which other parks are in the series. The old “Valley of Hearts Delight” film can be checked out from the San Jose Public Library if you want to see it on your VCR.

Click here for our History of Alum Rock Park series. Use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition.

Click on these links for Ed Allegretti's articles on Alum Rock Park (with lots more photos):
Recollections of Old Alum Rock Park
Recollections of Alum Rock Park - Part 2
Rock Canyon Circle - Indians near Alum Rock Park

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West Nile Virus – From a Birder’s Perspective

“Coming soon to a theater near you”

By Dorothy "D.J." Johnson - Youth Science Institute

NNV Note: This story links to other Web sites where you can see photos of the birds and insects and, in some cases, listen to the birds' songs. Use the Back button on your Web browser to return to this edition. Some photos may take a long time to download unless you have a broadband connection.

At a wildlife rehabilitation conference during the first years of the West Nile epidemic, a veterinary pathologist grimly stated during a presentation, that the virus would be on the west coast in a year and “coming soon to a theater near you.” In one respect we have been relatively fortunate out here. We have had two years to watch, learn and prepare as the West Nile Virus executed its inexorable march towards California and the Pacific Coast States.

For two years rehabbers, falconers and bird keepers on the west coast listened and learned from the horror stories emanating from back east. Rehab centers in the Midwest were inundated with sick birds, not just Crows and Jays but Red-tailed Hawks, Great Horned Owls and other birds of prey. Educational and display birds at nature centers and zoos were affected as well. Birds presented with seizures, disorientation, and the inability to walk. Some just sat and stared into space, dying so quickly there was little opportunity to treat them. Those that lived long enough to treat, took months of care and frequently never completely recovered. Crows and Jays disappeared from areas where they were normally abundant. Birders and state biologists noticed reductions in the populations of other bird species as well. Some areas were heavily affected while others were not.

As expected, in the fall of 2003, West Nile reared its ugly head for the first time in the Imperial Valley of California, sentinel chickens and mosquito testing betraying its presence. In July of this year a crow found dead near Quimby and White Roads tested positive for the virus, the first for Santa Clara County. Suspiciously sick Cooper’s Hawks had been presenting at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley a month before that.

So, after a couple of years of waiting and watching, it’s here. We humans know what we are supposed to do. We have been well prepped for our role in managing this new disease. Keep those extremities covered, use DEET, stay inside at dusk and dawn, screen your windows, eliminate standing water around the homestead, get Mosquito Fish and watch for dead or dying birds.

Those bird keepers and falconers among us have done what we can do to protect our charges from harm, short of keeping them indoors 24-7. Some have screened their aviaries where possible, even though the dreaded mosquitoes may be small enough to squeeze through the netting. Most of us, following the lead of our eastern counterparts, have vaccinated our birds with the only vaccine available, horse vaccine. It doesn’t seem to harm them and seems to provide some protection, except for the unfortunate American Crow, for which it does nothing.

The local wildlife rehab centers that must receive and care for sick birds and mammals, as well as protect the health of their volunteers, have developed strict protocol for biosecurity. All volunteers are trained to recognize the symptoms of West Nile. High-risk species and birds showing symptoms are isolated from other patients on admission whenever possible. Birds are examined and treated for external parasites immediately. Volunteers wear gloves when examining all patients. Protective covering and often a special set of clothes and shoes are worn while volunteering.

So far this year, The Wildlife Center Of Silicon Valley in San Jose has admitted approximately fifteen birds showing symptoms with six testing positive for the virus. Most of these were Cooper’s Hawks and American Crows. The Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center in Morgan Hill has had twelve suspicious admissions with one confirmed case, a House Finch. Patients are receiving supportive care, fluids, anti-inflammatory and pain medication and just about all of them are dying within 24 hours. One of the centers will be trying a new medication, for animals that is. It’s a human high blood pressure medication that has shown some promise in treating West Nile. It may be tested for human West Nile as well.

Much has been learned since the early days of the epidemic about the disease and how it is transmitted, both in birds and humans. There is much left to learn. The virus is not host specific and can affect over 200 species of birds and mammals including bats, squirrels, horses, some cats and dogs, rabbits and of course humans. It is thought that besides mosquitoes, a couple of avian “nasties,” birdlice and the Hippoboscid or flat fly can transmit the virus from bird to bird. Both are insect parasites that are commonly found on the bodies of wild birds - especially raptors. Birds may also be able to infect one another through preening and feces. It’s suspected that they may also be passing the virus through the egg to their young. Birds of prey may be picking up the virus through infected prey such as squirrels or birds. Great Horned Owls are known to eat Crows back east and are one of the other hardest hit raptor species there.

What is in store for us in the East Foothills of San Jose? It’s early yet. The virus is just getting established. We have another month and a half of potentially warm weather and who knows what kind of winter will descend upon us, warm and wet or cold and dry. As of the first week in September the county has seen 21 positive birds and no human cases. For every bird testing positive there are probably hundreds of others that go untested or unnoticed. So far the birds and squirrels in Alum Rock Park seem very healthy.

Next year will probably see the virus assert itself with more authority in Northern California. Whatever happens, whether we are spared the brunt of the virus or hit hard, nature will rebound with vigorous individuals that have resistance to this newly emerging disease. Crows and other corvids are returning to the eastern areas decimated just a few short years ago. As I write this, research is being conducted at several institutions across the country including the CDC (Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia) to develop human and avian vaccines and more is being discovered about the virus all the time. So, for now, hang onto your hats. It could be a wild ride or, maybe not. I hope not.

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Funding Your Child's Education - Part 4

Creating a plan and plan maintenance

By Jason Papier

NNV Note: This is the conclusion of Jason’s article which started in the June/July edition. Click here to read the first part, here for the second part and here for the third part.

Creating a plan
In most cases, I encourage clients to participate in both CESAs and 529s. We use the CESA for elementary and secondary school funding, with the goal of using all the CESA savings before the child attends college. This is particularly advantageous for children attending private or parochial schools such as St. John Vianney or St. Victor. But, because money can be used for related costs, even parents of children in public schools can benefit from the savings. We try to use the money before college because 529s have more favorable financial aid treatment than CESAs, and the longer money remains in a 529, the more valuable the benefit.

After CESA accounts are fully funded, I recommend that remaining contributions be invested in a 529 plan. Researching 529 plans can be a daunting task. A good reference for those interested is This website compares plans from every state and contains a lot of valuable information. Two plans that are currently of interest to me are the California ScholarShare program ( and Nevada’s Vanguard 529 plan (

California’s plan is one of the largest in the country. The program administer, TIAA-CREF, was originally formed as a teachers insurance group. Since then, TIAA-CREF has managed some of the largest retirement programs in the country. They generally provide good service with a knowledgeable staff and low costs. The California plan has five different investment options, including two age-based allocation options. You can change investment options one time per year, or anytime you change the account beneficiary. Finally, if your employer participates, you can have contributions deducted regularly from your paycheck, which I’ve found to be a great way to ensure participation. Monthly contributions can be as little as $15.

The other plan I currently like is the Nevada Vanguard 529. For those not familiar with Vanguard, it is one of the largest and most respected mutual fund companies in the country. Vanguard is known for having very good fund options with very low expense ratios. The Nevada Vanguard plan has eight different investment options, including three different age-based allocation options. Investment choices may be changed once per year. Vanguard also supports payroll deductions, subject to a minimum $50 contribution per period. The low fees on Vanguard funds and the overall plan structure make it a good plan, but what I find especially intriguing is Vanguard’s partnership on this program with Upromise.

Upromise ( is a unique program that allows families to save for college by making purchases. For instance, Citibank, Exxon, America Online, and McDonald’s are participants who will help you save by donating a percentage of the money you spend to your child’s 529 plan. To participate, you need to establish an affiliated 529 plan and sign up for Upromise. Upromise claims over 4 million families are participating with savings up to 10%. That could really add up over time!

Plan maintenance
Plan maintenance is a major factor in successfully saving for a child’s education. What may be appropriate today may not be appropriate in the future. Typically, when looking at investments, one of the major factors is what we call time horizon. That is, how long will this investment be allowed to grow before the money needs to be withdrawn? Over long periods of time, equities (stocks) have generally outperformed fixed income assets (bonds). Therefore, it is usually more appropriate to have a larger stake in equities when the time horizon is long. When the time horizon shortens, it makes sense to begin moving assets to fixed income securities; to reduce the risk volatility can have on returns. (Of course, this is only one of many factors to consider when investing. Speak to a professional before making investment decisions.)

Most investors who I work with simply don’t have the time or expertise to keep up on their investments. Believe me, it’s a full time job. With that in mind, I strongly urge investors who will not be using a financial planner to seek out investment alternatives that are actively allocated. In the case of college savings, that means using a 529 with an age-based allocation. Age-based allocations take into consideration the child’s age and how long the money will be invested. They automatically place more into equities at the start and move more to fixed income as the time horizon shortens. Age-based allocations are designed so that you do not have to monitor this aspect of your investment.

CESAs do not offer age-based allocations, so they should be reviewed regularly and modified as needed. Remember, the time horizon on a CESA will generally be shorter than on a 529, so make sure that investments reflect this.

Education planning is important for all children. Those who will go to college are targeted in advertisements for savings programs, but these same savings programs can be used for other postsecondary education. All children should have the opportunity, and the expectation, of continuing education in a field of interest. Unfortunately, costs will continue to rise, especially at the more affordable public institutions. As a result, educational savings plans are more important to use than ever. Parents, grandparents and other relatives can help a child save for school by opening a savings plan that has tax advantages. These plans allow for the accumulation of more money over time that non tax-advantaged plans.

Nobody should wait until they can “afford” to save to open a plan. By making automatic payroll deductions for as little as $15 a month, a parent can begin funding a child’s education. Requesting that relatives donate to the plan instead of buying toys for the child is another good way of saving. Participating in Upromise, which allows parents to save with the items they buy every day, can also painlessly add money to educational savings. Finally, saving in the correct plans can provide more favorable financial aid calculations.

Adding this all together could make a big difference in your child’s life. It may allow him or her to receive a higher education, and can lead to a more satisfying and successful life.

Have a question about this article or other financial planning topics? E-mail Jason at

NNV Note: Jason Papier, his wife Susan and dog Scout live on Holly Drive with a beautiful view of the SJCC and its surrounding communities. Jason's financial planning firm, PW Johnson, is an NNV sponsor and is located just off Highway 101 and Mathilda in Sunnyvale. He provides financial planning services to clients who seek a long-term relationship with an advisor.

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You Dig It?

Area gardeners, both "Master" and casual, share their wisdom and experiences with Eastside gardening and related topics here.

October Hot Topics

By University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede

Call the Master Gardener Hotline at (408) 299-2638 with your gardening questions or check out our website at

New Bay Area Garden Books
East Bay Municipal Utility District has replaced the original (and outdated) publication, 'Water Conserving Plants for the Bay Area' with a new book called 'Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates of the San Francisco Bay Region.' These 300-plus pages are a marvelous companion to the Sunset Western Garden Book and contain beautiful photos of gardens that have been designed to include appropriate plants for our climate here in the bay area.

You can purchase this book from EBMUD at their website, Click on 'New Plant & Landscape Book' to order. The paperback version costs $34.95 (why don't they just charge that extra nickel?) plus tax. The shipping is free. The book includes lists of plants for dry shade, trees for small spaces, and groundcovers by height along with many other lists.

The second book is less grand but no less useful. This 70-page, ring-bound book, The Gardening Resource Guide for Northern California's Mediterranean Climate, contains ideas for gardening, visiting, shopping, joining, reading, learning and more. Members of The Mediterranean Garden Society's Northern California Branch assembled this information for the entire SF Bay Area so you'll find nurseries from Marin to Santa Cruz that carry the plants mentioned in the EBMUD book. You'll find sources for planters and garden art, bookstores that carry gardening books, a booklist to learn much more about our climate and plants, websites, public gardens, and more.

This book can be purchased by sending a check for $10 (includes tax and shipping) to The Mediterranean Garden Society, Northern California Branch, PO Box 542, Lafayette CA 94549. I helped research this book and, putting modesty aside for a second, this is a terrific resource guide for bay area gardeners.

Fall Tasks – Call the Rotline
With the cooling weather and soon-to-arrive rains, now is the time to clean up your garden beds in preparation for the winter. Many pest insects and diseases overwinter in the weedy areas and dead plants left from the summer garden. Keep your planting beds clean and you will reduce next year's problems. Roses, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas need cleaning of dropped and diseased leaves. Cleaning should stop, however, before removing leaf litter under oak trees and needles under pine trees and junipers. This leaf duff helps protect the roots of these large trees and shrubs. Adding a several inch deep layer of compost on your planting beds will provide much needed nutrients for next year's plants. Many perennials benefit from removal of a third to half of their growth. Salvias (sages), penstemons, yarrow, mimulus (monkeyflower), buddleia (butterfly bush) are among them.

Compost healthy trimmings by alternating green cuttings with brown leaves or straw in a pile or a compost container. Free composting classes are available from the Master Composters who can be reached at The Rotline at (408) 918-4640.

Bark Beetles
The Western pine and engraver beetles attack pine trees. There will be no clear signs of beetle attack at first. The beetles invade half way up or near the top of the trunk. Once the tree has been fully attacked, the tree will probably die. The beetles usually attack in connection with some other problem such as pitch canker fungus or other pests. To control, keep pines in a good state of vigor. Promptly remove trees that have confirmed beetle damage as the beetles will quickly spread to nearby trees causing further damage. More control details and photographs can be found at

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Curtis Horticulture,, (408) 259-9974, CA Lic #826409

Ecological landscaping services: design/consulting, renovation, maintenance

Specializing in native and drought-tolerant landscapes. We live and work in the neighborhood.


“…A kid’ll eat ivy, too; Wouldn’t you?” - Part 2

Stephanie Curtis adds more deer resistant suggestions

The impatiens come back!

Stephanie Curtis of Curtis Horticulture sends us her list of additional deer-resistant plants to add to our growing update. Click here for our updated Deer Resistant Plants page and a photo of the August-munched impatiens which seem to appreciate the deer-shearing. They're blossoming anew - and the deer have moved on to someone else's deck (or, more likely, they're focused on creating next year's fawn crop just now). Please send us your entries and comments.

Also, Pat Benham’s “Gold Coins” are now identified as Asteriscus maritimus. The deer still haven’t shown any interest in them.

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To run your ad in New Neighborhood Voice, E-mail or call (408) 272-7008

Taqueria Time!

Great Mexican tacos and seafood for your visit to MHP - or anytime

By Robin Edwards (a.k.a. “yes dear, the engineer”)

What better place for a piece of Mexican Food Heritage called “La Costa” than across the street from the Mexican Heritage Plaza at the corner of Alum Rock and King Road? La Costa, "The Coast," comes with a beach scene wall mural. Seafood is their specialty, but when I think of them, mmmmm, I think of Tacos!

Now that fall is here, and there is a nip in the air, you might think that the demand for outdoor dining would be declining. No-lo-creo! (I don’t think so!). Standing in a line 7 deep for a 2 o’clock lunch is a mark of the demand, not the supply. They are fast at serving. And notice that hot sauce at your table? It is there for the spice, as well as to keep you warm in winter.

What is a Taqueria? Literally it’s a place that sells tacos. They serve Mexican Fast Food. And, if you can name 4 or more types of meat that come from cattle and know how to ask for your chicken “asada” (grilled instead of roasted), then you already are an old pro. If you’re less adventurous, you can always just stick to regular chicken or beef choices.

Fast, Fresh, Friendly, and Fun are some of my criteria in Taqueria testing. By that standard I’d judge the Beef Taco (taco de carne asada), $1.10, as 3-out-of-4 points. Next comes the Chicken Quesadilla (Kay-Say-D-ah). Priced at $3 for something that contains 1000 calories (if you eat it all). I rate it equally at 3-out-of-4 points.

Another thing I like about Taquerias, NO VEGGIES! Someday, maybe you will test, and report on the real reason La Costa is so popular. It’s their $11 seafood cocktail! They’d probably be $25 anyplace else, and they’re called the Super Campechana. Any “Test-Pilots” out there??

So for now, dust off your 10 gallon hat. Put on those black cowboy boots with the silver heels and toes. Strap on that Cowboy belt with the hubcap belt buckle and mosey on down to La Costa. You’ll find it Fast, Fresh, Friendly and Fun.

Open 10:30 AM till 9 PM, 7 days a week.  Click here for photos of La Costa.

NNV Note: La Costa’s drink menu includes sodas, lemonade, fresh fruit smoothies and aguas frescas. They don’t accept credit cards.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

bulletDoes anyone know how much rain fell during the Sudden Sunday Surprise rainstorm?
bulletDoes anyone know what has become of Boesch Hall? Last we knew, it was for sale.
bulletIs it true that the Alum Rock Library branch will begin closing on Mondays?
bulletWhy are closures like this happening to our libraries?
bulletIs it getting to be the season when we need to watch out for infatuated ungulates?
bulletAre “they” finally finished with the new Mario’s and Marco's façade?

Q. Does anyone know just how much rainfall we had during the Sudden Sunday Surprise rainstorm on September 19th? Does it mean that fire season is over?

A. The official measurement for San Jose was something paltry like .15 of an inch, but, lucky for us, a reader on Crothers Road shared the information from his rain gage which registered more than half an inch! Now, that is significant! However, we’re not quite out of the woods yet as far as the fire potential in this wildland interface area goes. So, keep your guard up and hope for another gully washer like that of the 19th. Then we’ll be able to rest easy until next spring when the cycle starts all over again.

Q. Does anyone know what has become of Boesch Hall, the old-timey dance hall behind the covered bridge on Penitencia Creek Road just outside Alum Rock Park? Last we knew, it was for sale.

A. NNV checked with Kathleen Boesch Tirri for an update. The news is wonderful! Kathleen, whose family owned the property for 48 years, says that the couple who bought it last May have great plans for “restoring the house, hall and bridge back to the way they were.” Kathleen says that the lady of the couple is a horticulturalist and that she plans to turn the big parking lot into a huge garden with a winding road going through it. There will be a fountain in the middle and tiered gardens will be planted down towards the creek.

In the November, 2003, edition, NNV included an article about the old hall which most recently had been used only seasonally at Christmas time as the home of the Covered Bridge Boutique. We noted the old Ferdinand the Bull murals which were still bright and humorous and cited the history of the hall which went all the way back to the turn of the twentieth century when it was the home of “the largest gasoline fueled electric powerhouse on the entire West Coast.” Click here to read the story and see the photos.

For local history buffs and folks who remember when Boesch Hall was a “watering hole,” meeting place and dance hall, it’s super news that the property has been purchased by people who appreciate the very special place that it is. NNV hopes that the new owners will want to share their progress with us neighbors and we look forward to publishing news and photos one day.

Q. Is it true that the Alum Rock Library branch will begin closing on Mondays?

A. Unfortunately, yes. Our little branch on White Road, which is part of the Santa Clara County Library system, will cease operating on Mondays beginning October 11th. None of the libraries in the County system will have Monday hours as of that date. They are facing a $1.1 million shortfall and possibly an even larger one by next summer.

Being closed on Mondays is particularly painful for students who use the library and its resources for studying. Many James Lick area kids head for the branch after school. Where will they spend their after-school time beginning on the eleventh? Maybe at the Alum Rock Youth Center, but it’s not a library!

Q. Why are closures like this happening to our libraries?

A. Remember Measure B which failed at the polls last March? It needed a two-thirds vote to extend a tax which would have brought $5.3 million for the county library system. We may have another chance to pass the measure in the spring if it’s put back on the ballot. If voters don’t pass it again, the library will be short another $5.3 million next year.

Q. When is the deer “rutting season” – when bucks and does make like birds and bees and throw caution to the wind? Is it getting to be the season when we need to watch out for infatuated ungulates leaping with reckless abandon in front of our cars?

A. Yes, now is the time of year when we need to be especially watchful for glassy-eyed bucks chasing long-lashed Jane Does across our roads with never a glance to see if a car is coming, let alone looking both ways before they cross. Early last month, Gary Richards in his Mercury News Roadshow column published a Seasonal Deer Alert. Here is a summary of the suggestions made in the column:

  1. Be especially vigilant in the early morning and evening hours.

  2. If you spot a deer, brake firmly and do not swerve.

  3. If you see one deer, slow down and watch for more – they rarely run alone.

  4. If a deer freezes in your headlights, turn your lights off and then on.

  5. If you hit a deer, don’t touch it. They are dangerous.

  6. Don’t remove an injured or dead deer. It’s illegal.

  7. Call 911 if you see a dead or injured deer.

Q. Are “they” finally finished with the new façade of the Mario’s Barber Shop and Jewelry by Marco building near the east end of “The Village”?

A. Yes, at long last; the final touches went up late in September. This particular façade improvement was a long time coming. It seemed ages passed between each step, but it looks quite smart now with a tall black awning over the front doors, black gooseneck lighting and handsome signage. Marco and Mario will beam if you drop in to compliment their businesses’ new look! Click here for photos of M&M's new façade.

NNV hopes that the next façade improvement will be across the street from M&M’s at the future La Bodega market. New white paper went up on the insides of the front windows recently. Hopefully this signals that work has begun anew on the interior. It will be so nice to have that key building lookin’ good!

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You can send comments or letters to the editor (Click Here to see the Letters)

E-mail us at or fax to (408) 272-4040. Please limit letters to a few hundred words (shorter items are more likely to be used in the newsletter and read) and include your name and phone number in case we have questions.  Contributions may be edited for content and space requirements.  Want to take photos, write articles or essays?  Please let us know!  And don't miss our new Letters page on Deer, Fire and/or Drought Resistant Plants if you'd like to share information with our readers.

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--------------------------- Contact and Subscription Information ---------------------------------
Copyright© 2004 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
Phone: (408) 272-7008, E-mail: Fax: (408) 272-4040 
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Copyright© 2004 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 10/29/04.

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