New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 28 - Section 2

August 7, 2005

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos

Lyndale School
5th Grade Party

Trustee Tanya


A new Great Horned Owl ...

And an old one in
Alum Rock Park


Alum Rock Avenue:
Our new library!


McKee Road

New mural at
Hubbard School

Mural artist
Paul Gonzalez


Constructing in
The Village

And at
James Lick


Alum Rock Park Natatorium

Doug Colbeck

Pieces of the
old Natatorium


CM Nora Campos
and Roy Avila


SJCC Manager
Mike Williams


James Lick


AR Library
Pigeon Perch?

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Final Results of Santa Clara County Library May 3 Mail Ballot Special Election

Alum Rock residents can be proud of their contribution to the passage of Measure A!

By Melinda Cervantes, Santa Clara County Librarian

Well, it seems that residents of Alum Rock can’t get enough statistics to satisfy their hunger for great libraries. So, for your reading pleasure, here are a few more tidbits of data from the May 3, 2005 Mail Ballot Special Election to chew on.

Of the 201,103 registered voters, 72,478 cast ballots.
Measure A – Special Tax garnered 51,404 yes votes or 72.04%
Measure B – Special Tax garnered 45,214 yes votes or 64.23%

Alum Rock residents can be proud of their contribution to the passage of Measure A!

Precincts for the May 3, 2005 Special Mail Ballot Election were consolidated into 15 precincts, so while there is no way to isolate Unincorporated Alum Rock votes cast, it is possible to review results by Supervisorial District and Assembly District.

Results for the 2nd Supervisorial District represented by Supervisor Blanca Alvarado:
5,498 registered voters cast 1,290 ballots for a 23.5% turnout.
Measure A – Special Tax garnered 770 yes votes or 60%
Measure B – Special Tax garnered 712 yes votes or 55%

Results for the 23rd Assembly District represented by Assemblymember Joe Coto may provide the closest results:
38,438 registered voters cast 12, 113 ballots for a 31.5% turnout.
Measure A – Special Tax garnered 7,762 yes votes or 64%
Measure B – Special Tax garnered 6,793 yes votes or 56%

The entire Unincorporated Area of Santa Clara County passed Measure A with 68% yes votes and supported Measure B with 61% yes votes. In many states a simple majority would suffice, but in California where a two-thirds vote is needed to pass a library operating measure, getting 72% of the vote is phenomenal! Thank you Alum Rock residents for a strong show of support.

The Santa Clara County Library Joint Powers Authority has had a long and proud history of serving Alum Rock residents for over 60 years and will continue to do so in partnership with the City of San Jose in the beautiful new Dr. Roberto Cruz - Alum Rock Branch Library. Remember, your library card(s) allow you to borrow directly from the Milpitas Library and other libraries in the Santa Clara County Library system and the Berryessa and Tully Branch Libraries and other branches of the San Jose Public Library.

Good reading to you all!

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San Jose East/Evergreen Rotarians Hear Santa Clara County FireSafe Council Message

Hot topic of discussion – Improving Fire Safety in Wildland Urban Interface areas

San Jose East/Evergreen Rotarians hosted representatives of the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council at their July 19th luncheon meeting at the San Jose Country Club. It was an excellent opportunity for the FireSafe Council to explain recent improvements to the firebreak on Crothers Road which helps to protect East Highlands dwellers (and other East San Joseans as well) from wildfires originating in or near Alum Rock Park.

SCFSC is a non-profit organization which brings together many varied fire-fighting organizations, utility companies with a stake in fire prevention and concerned citizens who live in “Wildland Urban Interface” areas such as those where neighborhoods abut unimproved territory with lots of natural fuels. The Council provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and resources of the member groups as well as scouting out funding sources to accomplish fuel-reduction programs in vulnerable neighborhoods which otherwise would have no access to such programs.

Member organizations, the San Jose Fire Department and City of San Jose Parks and Recreation Department, each sent a representative to speak to the Rotarians and answer questions. Ranger Doug Colbeck of Alum Rock Park discussed improvements to the Crothers Road firebreak as well as other fire preventive measures in the park. Neighbor Battalion Chief Jose Luna, who is stationed at Fire Station 2 across the street from the Alum Rock Avenue Orchard Supply Hardware, represented the SJFD.

Chief Luna proved to be an excellent resource to provide answers to the Rotarians and their guests. Fourth of July fireworks and explosives were a major concern to many. It seems that each year there are more large dangerous illegal fireworks exploded in the San Jose area and people wanted to understand the law and what, if anything, could be done to deter their use. The Chief said that fireworks are illegal throughout Santa Clara County except in Gilroy. As more and more incidences are reported, the fire department’s response necessarily gets thinner and thinner – a situation which will have to be remedied, perhaps with the imposition of stiff fines.

Allan Thompson, a member of the SCFSC Board of Directors, described the FireSafe Council and its mission, told how its work applied to the people who live and work in East San Jose and pointed out its involvement with the neighborhood surrounding the meeting site, the San Jose Country Club. He invited more exchange between the East Side Rotary and the FireSafe Council as well as financial support to help make up for funds which no longer are available from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in our area. The Rotary presented Mr. Thompson with a handsome mug in appreciation of his participation in the meeting’s program and for arranging for Ranger Colbeck and Chief Luna to attend.

Click here for a photo from the meeting.

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“Calvary Cemetery – 1882 to the 21st Century” Part II

Light Rail construction sends hundreds of bodies to eternal rest in East San Jose

In the June-July edition of NNV, we began a series of articles on our neighborhood’s most hallowed ground, Calvary Cemetery, located at Alum Rock and Capitol Avenues. With this edition we continue the story with the tale of the mortal remains of several hundred of San Jose’s earliest pioneers whose eternal rest was rudely interrupted by the excavation of their “final” resting place, Holy Cross cemetery, (AKA Kell cemetery), in south San Jose. It seems the old cemetery lay smack dab in the path of progress – the land was needed for the Guadalupe Light Rail corridor. It would seem that these disenfranchised folks are hexed with light rail connections. They suffered the indignities of disinterment and were moved from yon to hither only to spend the next piece of eternity being jiggled by the vibrations of the Alum Rock Light Rail corridor newly constructed along Capitol Avenue last year.

Neighbor Carol Schultz, historian and retired Calvary Cemetery employee, shared clippings documenting the upheaval. The following articles are great examples of engaging newspaper writing.

400 Lie Dead In the Path Of A Rail Line
Excerpted from a story in the San Francisco Chronicle of April 16, 1984 by Allyn Stone

The red-winged blackbirds, pheasant and other wild things that patrol Old Kell cemetery in San Jose warn each other with cries of alarm when an intruder comes near.

They are they sole guardians of this unmarked, lonely ground where about 400 residents of California’s first city were buried between 1871 and 1890.

Although it went to seed decades ago, one could find worse places to spend eternity than this eucalyptus-studded hilltop with a sweeping view of the modern city.

But the quiet will soon be shattered by bulldozers. The dead must clear out to make way for the $584 million Guadalupe Corridor light rail system and four-lane expressway connecting south San Jose with the semiconductor plants of Silicon Valley.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, owner of the cemetery, has filed a petition in Santa Clara County Superior Court seeking legal permission to open the graves and move their contents to Calvary Cemetery in East San Jose.

The church does not expect much earthly objection to the plan. But evicting the residents of Old Kell may be easier said than done.

Finding the bodies in the hill will be a chore in itself. The graves lost their headstones long ago and are covered with Scottish broom, foxtail and a jungle of other weeds that grow five feet tall in some places.

The Rev. Michael Mitchell says church officials will have to resort to infrared photography to find the remains, explaining, “There’s a differentiation in the energy coming up off the ground over the graves.”

Then backhoes will be brought in to open the hard soil.

The church is selling the 25-acre site at the end of Canoas Garden Avenue to Santa Clara County for an undisclosed amount under threat of eminent domain proceedings.

“It’s being taken from us against our will, as it were, but we’re not fighting it,” says William Filice, attorney for the diocese. The diocese had no particular plans for the valuable site, church officials say.

Land in the area is selling for as much as $500,000 an acre.*

According to Mitchell, the tradition of neglecting Old Kell stems from common sense.

The cemetery fell victim to thieves after it went into disuse, and church officials felt it best to keep things as anonymous as possible.

Posting a sign or erecting some kind of historical marker “would be like putting out the welcome mat for vandals,” the priest says. “Cemeteries attract all kinds of crazy kooks.”

Mitchell says the church cleared all the headstones from the cemetery in 1920. But that date is disputed by 80-year-old Clyde Arbuckle, official historian of the City of San Jose, who vividly recalls a discovery he made there in 1941.

Arbuckle was exploring the hill with his young son and daughter when the children ran after a startled jackrabbit and stumbled over an elaborate headstone that had fallen on the ground.

Arbuckle recognized the name on the stone instantly. It was that of Louis Pellier, the famed French horticulturalist who imported the prune to California and died in 1872 at the age of 55 – unaware that because of him, the sunny Santa Clara Valley would one day be known as the prune capital of the world.

Church records on the cemetery are sketchy, but reflect the polyglot nature of San Jose’s population of 12,000 during the late 19th century. People of French, Irish, Italian, Spanish, Yugoslav and Portuguese descent are buried there; some of the dead were members of well known pioneer families including the Berryessas, Bernals and Alvisos.

The burial site on the western slopes of the San Juan Bautista Hills was consecrated May 18, 1871; church records say the land was a gift from a parishioner, “that excellent man, Thomas Kell.”

*NNV Note: You’ll see in the following article that this $500K/acre figure was more than a tad inflated.

Excavators Search Cemetery for Remains of Pioneers
Excerpted from a San Jose Mercury News story of October 10, 1984 by Jack Sirica

In a neglected South San Jose pasture strewn with bald tires and Thunderbird wine bottles, Pete Beltran laid into the gray earth with the shovel of his hydraulic backhoe.

Beltran was searching for part of San Jose’s early history – in this case the graves of about 400 of the city’s founders - and he was having no success.

On Tuesday, nearly a hundred years after the last gravedigger trudged out of the Holy Cross Cemetery, a group of workmen began turning up the soil once again at the old burial ground. The Guadalupe Light Rail corridor is slated to pass through the center of the cemetery in the next few years, and Santa Clara County has agreed to purchase the 24-acre plot for about $2 million.

As part of the settlement, the Catholics received $136,000 to move all the remains they can find to Calvary Catholic Cemetery in East San Jose. And on Tuesday, they started the work – as a workman’s radio blasted out the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”

The excavators really aren’t sure where to look because all the tombstones were removed in the 1920’s. Infrared photographs taken from the air have given the searchers only vague indications of where the bodies might lie.

“They’ve given us a little information, but it’s still like shooting in the dark,” [Consultant Chuck] Buckley said of the aerial shots.


St. Joseph’s records … show that at least four members of the Berryessa family – Benijuo, Dominico, Dionysius and Joanna – were buried at the cemetery between 1876 and 1887. An ancestor, Nicolas Berryessa, accompanied the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza to the Santa Clara Valley in the late 1700s.


The cemetery is a rutted field that sits among the hills near the intersection of Almaden and Curtner avenues. Formerly a cattle grazing area, the neighborhood around the cemetery now is home to such developments as the Mill Pond II mobile home park and the modern First Baptist Church of San Jose with its rotating rooftop cross.

[Some] neighbors were unhappy about the church’s plan to dig up the graves.

“Well, the way I really feel is that they shouldn’t be moved from there because that’s a resting place, said [neighbor] Pedro Padilla, a waffle-iron repairman for Mrs. Smith’s Frozen Foods Co.

Click here for photos.

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NNV Briefs

bulletGrieving Parr Eves Follows Pastor Wife Mary Parker-Eves in Death by Donna Furuta
bulletLick 2005 Award Night JLHS - “Best and Brightest” light up the night
bulletLittle Old County Alum Rock Library Branch Fades Away
bulletRenaissance Academy Co-Founder, Nancy B. Gutierrez, Honored
bulletFirst Annual (?) Urban Arts Festival - Renaissance Academy/JLHS collaboration
bulletHigh-Energy Dance Festival at Linda Vista was a Community Event by Sandra Dixon
bulletFifth-Graders' Rite of Passage at Linda Vista by Sandra Dixon
bulletLyndale Elementary - New California Distinguished School! This schoolhouse rocked!
bulletRichard Brown’s Alum Rock Park Photo of the Month - “Downy Puff Muffin”
bulletOn the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue: Big, new Wonderful Library
bulletOn the Road – McKee Road: Boon or Bone of contention?
bulletSplendiferous New Mural at Hubbard Elementary School
bulletThe Voice of the ‘Dozer is Heard Throughout the East Side
bulletBits of 1915 Natatorium Revealed in Alum Rock Park
bulletBeloved Thirty-Five Year YSI Resident Owl Passes Away by Dorothy "D.J." Johnson

Grieving Parr Eves Follows Pastor Wife Mary Parker-Eves in Death

Gruff/tender civic leader led life of service to others

By Donna Furuta

Parr Brierly Eves was born on February 7, 1929 in Madison, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1953 and moved to Watsonville, CA in 1954 where he operated P&M Printing for 30 years. In 1984, he married Mary Parker in New York City.

Parr served on the Watsonville City Council from 1989 to 1994. During his tenure on the Council, he was a key leader in effecting Watsonville's recovery after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. He was also instrumental in bringing in affordable housing, district elections, equal opportunities for minorities in jobs and wages. Parr secured more funding for social services and worked on environmental issues. Because of his legacy of leadership, there will be a special public honoring of him by the Watsonville City Council in September. Parr also served on many boards in the Watsonville area including the Salvation Army, AMBAG, Kiwanis, YMCA and the Pajaro Valley Children's Center (his wife Mary was the Director). He was active in the Watsonville First United Church where he sang in the choir and printed all the bulletins.

In 1996, Parr left behind his public life in Watsonville when Mary Parker-Eves was appointed to the Alum Rock United Methodist Church in San Jose. During his time in San Jose, he was an active leader in PACT (People Acting in Community Together) and served on the PACT board for several years.

Earlier this year, his wife's untimely death came as a shattering blow to Parr and his health rapidly declined. His death came on July 10th. Services were held on July 17th at Alum Rock UMC. Parr will be remembered as a gruff but tender man who had a clear sense of values that resulted in his doing what he thought was right. He is survived by his step children, Karen and Sean Parker.

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Lick 2005 Award Night

JLHS “Best and Brightest” light up the night

“I really like you guys! You’re really special to us.” said Bill Rice, one of the three directors at James Lick High School, as he addressed the thirty-four scholorship recipients at this year’s JLHS Senior Honor Night early in June. “You represent the first graduating class during Mr. Esparza, Mr. Herrera and my first full year as co-directors here at James Lick.”

Director Rice said that he was surprised to find himself in the position of “guest speaker” for the evening, but, he explained, “No one says no to Mrs. Makishima!” In his address to the assembled students, parents, teachers and members of the community, (who all were seated in new never-before-sat-in “Comet green” chairs) he extolled Lick High as a place where kids can really shine. He glowed when he cited the “outstanding brain power” he witnessed in the senior Humanities class.

He lamented the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” which plague today’s teachers, but he pointed out that they continue to give and give and give simply because of students like the evening’s awardees who “gave us your best - your best efforts and the best of yourselves. You all are givers!”

He urged the students to examine their lives to be sure they’re on the right path. “Become somebody and make that somebody important so you can continue to give back. The more you give, the more you get back.”

A special plaque was presented to Tom Dusek, unofficially “Mr. James Lick.” Tom taught at Lick for 22 years, “defined what ‘spirit’ was, assembled the student senate and developed community allies.” Lick’s Student Activities Center is named for him and the Tom Dusek Award for Service is given in his name every year. Mr. Dusek, who remembers the years when Lick was new, recollects that the first furnishings actually were castoffs from San Quentin - or at least so he says! He claimed he chaperoned 385 dances at the school. “That’s why I can’t hear!” he said with a rueful smile. His wife, Rose, is also a faithful Comet booster.

The awards were presented by teachers Shari Lara and Mike Herring. Recipients will be attending universities far and wide. At least one will attend U.C. Berkeley and one will attend the University of Southern California. Many will attend Santa Clara University and San Jose State University as well as other schools in the California State University system and local community colleges. The pride of the students and their families was absolutely palpable.

Click here for photos.  Click here for the June/July NNV article with a list of honorees.

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Little Old County Alum Rock Library Branch Fades Away

Bittersweet farewell party draws longtime friends of the library

A steady stream of faithful patrons threaded their way between rows of yellow caution tape through the familiar old Alum Rock Library doors for one last tryst with their dated old friend. The utilitarian little building had an upcoming date with a wrecking ball in order to make room for a parking lot for a big, muscular newcomer on the block, the Dr. Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock Library.

Despite a fiddler rendering happy old tunes, the faces of the patrons were downcast. Conversations were filled with sighs. Guests wrote down pleasant library memories and sad farewell messages on bright colored paper even as the Story Lady read to a family of children – perhaps for the last time?

Darla the librarian reassured concerned patrons that she had found a new librarian position albeit far away from Alum Rock – and she shared that the other Alum Rock staffers would for the most part be absorbed by other libraries in the County Library system. Larry Tilbury, the gallant neighborhood volunteer, expressed everyone’s sentiments when he pointed out that it just would never be the same.

Even the farewell cakes couldn’t sweeten the mood. Goodbye Alum Rock Library.

Click here for photos of the old County Library during its last days.

NNV Note: The demolition of the building took place during the week of July 18.

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Renaissance Academy Co-Founder, Nancy B. Gutierrez, Honored

Receives Santa Clara County Human Relations Award for 2005

On June 2nd, the Santa Clara County Human Relations Committee honored Nancy B. Gutierrez, co-founder and lead-educator of Alum Rock School District's small middle school, Renaissance Academy, for her outstanding contributions to our community. She received several awards and certificates from state and federal legislature as well as a plaque that read:

Nancy B. Gutierrez is a teacher, mentor, academic visionary and advocate for youth. In a relatively short career, she has committed herself to creating a more just and peaceful society where there is honor for everyone. In addition, she is a dedicated and passionate language arts and social studies teacher.

Nancy has a zest for learning that is contagious and she works tirelessly to make schools better for each child and for the educational system as a whole. She recently co-founded the Renaissance Academy of Arts, Science & Social Justice, a small, autonomous school in the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District. In this setting, she influences young adolescents, who might otherwise resist learning, to become enthusiastic co-creators of the academic environment.

Nancy’s remarkable teaching skills were recently documented in the training video, "Motivation, The Key to Success in Teaching and Learning" produced by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Nancy and her team of outstanding teachers will begin Renaissance Academy’s second year with the opening of the upcoming 2005-2006 school year.

Click here for a photo of Nancy Gutierrez with her award.

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First Annual (?) Urban Arts Festival

Renaissance Academy/JLHS collaboration makes big hit

On an early June, Saturday Renaissance Academy gave a welcome gift to our community when it staged its first Urban Arts Festival on the front lawn of James Lick High School. It was an outstanding effort which brought together painters and craftsmen, musicians and poets, teachers, parents and art aficionados.

Creations for sale included water colors, photographs, oil and acrylic paintings, bronzes and textiles. Several tables featured community services including sign-up tables for Leadership Public Schools and for library cards for the San Jose Library system.

Dancers, singers, bands and poetry readers performed from a centrally located stage. Even one of Renaissance’s teachers soloed with her band!

Proceeds from this event will go toward the purchase of musical instruments for members of Renaissance Academy’s band program. It’s hoped that future festivals will bring out even more vendors and certainly more members of the community.

Click here for photos of  the Urban Arts Festival.

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High-Energy Dance Festival at Linda Vista was a Community Event

Popular event brings out hundreds to Kirk Avenue location

By Sandra Dixon

May always brings a traditional festivity to Linda Vista Elementary School, The International Dance Festival. A tradition for many years at the school, this colorful and multi-cultural extravaganza is attended not only by family members of students, but also by many others in the neighborhood as well as alumni. It really has become a community event over the years.

All Linda Vista classes, from Kindergarten through the fifth grade, practice their special dance for months before the festival, perfecting their steps, leaps and twirls. Led by their teachers, the children are excited to perform for their families, friends and community.

Some of the many dances included: A lively folk dance from Punjab in northern India called the Bhangra performed by Mrs. Boesch's and Mrs. Guerra's 3rd graders, a Hawaiian dance to the song "Little Grass Shack" performed by Ms. Laws' and Mr. Michel's 5th grade classes and an Aztec dance from central Mexico called "Fuego" or "Fire" performed by Ms. Rivas' 5th grade students.

Always the most highly-attended event of each year, the students know that once they have presented the International Dance Festival, it's only a few short weeks until the end of the school year and on to summer! Join us next year at the end of May ... everyone's invited. Check back closer to that time for details.

Click here for photos of The International Dance Festival.

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Fifth-Graders' Rite of Passage at Linda Vista

Students excellent achievement recognized

By Sandra Dixon

Another exciting tradition at Linda Vista is the 5th Grade Promotion Ceremony at the end of the school year. Students who've completed 5th grade and are moving on to middle school are honored with a promotion ceremony in the early morning sun on the blacktop, followed by a huge family breakfast in the cafeteria.

Family and friends attend this formal occasion. The students are dressed in their best suits and dresses as they receive their certificates and a special gift. Proud parents take photos and videotape the often tear-inspiring ceremony. The kids wear candy leis, adding festivity to this important event.

There were a number of students who spoke at the promotion ceremony. Every 5th grade student wrote about their experiences at Linda Vista and what makes the school special. The teachers chose the best essays and helped the students practice their speeches. The following students spoke: Bryan Boyd and Amanda Hambleton from Ms. Laws' class; Tanvi Varma and Jose Pablo Diaz from Ms. Rivas' class; and Janae Knapp, Kerri Perez, and Acilegna Rodriguez from Mr. Michel's class.

We also honored student achievement and hard work by handing out the President's Award for Educational Excellence. Since 1983, the President and the U.S. Secretary of State have recognized outstanding students. Students who received this award met the following criteria:

  1. Achievement in the 85th percentile or higher in reading or math on a standardized test
  2. A grade point average of 90 percent or higher
  3. Proficient or advanced in both language arts and math on the California Standards Test
  4. Excellent citizenship

Congratulations to the following students who earned this award: Christopher Avalos, Nelson Costa, Enrique Cruz, Amanda Hambleton, Rebecca Lynch, Kerri Perez, Matthew Rincones, Gregory Sgambati, Grace Wei, and Quincy Wool.

The teachers and Mrs. Fehely also recognized students who showed outstanding educational growth, commitment, and intellectual development in their academic subjects but did not meet the criteria for the President's Award for Educational Excellence. These students received the President's Award for Educational Achievement. The following students earned this award: Geoffry Banuelos, Jessica Barron, Zara Beadle, Samantha Corona, Dakota Dominguez, Jonathan Escobedo, Daniel Garcia, Janae Knapp, Kathrine Mina, Rocio Orozco, Aaron Petrakovitz, Jilliane Rabano, Ernesto Regla, David Rider, Acilegna Rodriguez, Bianca Romero, Tanvi Varma, Samuel Willis, and Nikolas Zaragosa.

This rite of passage helps students and their families understand the importance of what they've accomplished and marks the beginning of a new phase of their lives. They're no longer in "elementary school," they will now be "middle school students" where they have choices in the cafeteria (which always seems to be the most important and exciting change they experience) participate on organized sports teams, and switch classes for different subjects.

Mrs. Marcella Fehely, a principal fully dedicated to the school and the students, emcees the ceremony. She always honors the students with the most heartfelt praise and inspiring advice for the future of our children. Mrs. Fehely will always be remembered by departing students and families alike as an important influence in all of their lives.

Mrs. Fehely was also honored at the end of the ceremony with a gift and a beautiful reading about what she has meant to all the students and parents. There wasn't a dry eye in the house, including Mrs. Kris Hernandez, who got a bit choked up while reading her heartfelt words to the beloved principal.

Mrs. Hernandez is the mother of graduating 5th-grader, Miguel Hernandez (Ms. Rivas's class) and alumnus, Michelle Hernandez, who moved on to Joseph George Middle School last year.

This celebration is organized entirely by the parents of the 5th graders. They all team up to pull this event together. There are fund-raisers throughout the year, and others go to local businesses to get donations of cash, gift certificates and merchandise to help with the celebration - and believe me, the Alum Rock community is extremely generous in that regard! Some parents work on catering the breakfast which follows the ceremony, others manage the design and printing of programs, invitations and other printed materials. This is a very special time for the families of the students who are moving on. They are very proud of their kids and work overtime to make the ceremony and celebration memorable for everyone. It is also bittersweet, in that they are leaving such a wonderful school and community of friends, families, teachers and staff that they've come to love and respect over the years of attendance at Linda Vista.

Click here for photos of the Linda Vista Promotion Ceremony.

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Lyndale Elementary - New California Distinguished School!

This schoolhouse rocked!

The school that serves the Lyndale neighborhood (bounded by White, Story, Capitol and Alum Rock Avenue) has achieved that rarified honor – being designated as a California Distinguished School. The honor is reserved for “strong, well-rounded community schools.” Lyndale easily fills the bill!

A BIG celebration was obviously in order - so rather than the usual June promotion ceremony for fifth graders, a huge party was thrown for all the students of the school. Balloons and streamers were hung. The Distinguished School banner was displayed. And, best of all, an honest-to-goodness professional D.J. was hired for the occasion. Everyone danced including teachers, administrators, visiting dignitaries (including ARUSD trustee Tanya Freudenberger) and every single kid. Parents and little siblings ringed the blacktop as a LOT of booty (big and small) got well shaken.

Click here for photos of our California Distinguished School.

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Richard Brown’s Alum Rock Park Photo of the Month

“Downy Puff Muffin” makes camera debut

A great horned owl family nests in a crevice on the stony face of a tall, steep, rocky cliff near the mineral water springs in the park. The parents produce one or two owlets twice per breeding season. Many park goers and birdwatchers have craned their necks and squinted their eyes or plied the slope with binoculars to get a glimpse of the elusive birds which are waaay up there and hard to spot. Richard Brown got really lucky (or maybe he’s just really patient) and snapped photos of one of the adults and one of this year’s fluffy offspring taking a peek at the big world outside the crevice. The baby picture is this month’s featured Alum Rock Park photo by neighbor Richard.

Click here for photos of the owls.

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On the Avenue – Alum Rock Avenue

Big, new Wonderful Library Branch at Alum Rock Avenue-White Road crossroads

There’s been a lot happening on Alum Rock Avenue since the previous edition of NNV, but nothing can come even close to competing with the completion and grand opening of The Dr. Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock Library branch. Stories on this outstanding new resource dominate this edition of the newsletter – with good reason. Nothing of this magnitude has ever happened in our neighborhood before. As Mayor Gonzales said at the grand opening ceremony, we have ourselves to thank for voting to be taxed for new, bigger, better libraries. However, it actually “took a village” to get our village this new branch and Councilmember Nora Campos deserves our thanks and appreciation for taking charge and leading the effort. Thank you, Nora!

Click here for another photo of our new library.

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On the Road – McKee Road

Boon or Bone of contention? McKee/Vista neighbors object to Auto Repair business

One of the most frequently asked questions which have rolled into NNV is the one about the empty business building on the corner of McKee Road at Vista Avenue. This intersection is just across the street and a little west of the corner where Toyon Avenue bumps up to McKee Road in a dead-end. NNV has been stymied to find any definitive answers – except to hear that the neighbors were holding up the permitting process for a business which they didn’t want to move in.

Many, many area residents enjoyed the small produce business which occupied the building for several years. The friendly men who ran the business moved away when competition drove them out. Since then, the building has undergone significant renovation and has looked, at several points, as though it’s about to reopen in an automotive incarnation. However, it still sits dark and empty. See Vista neighbor, Elaine Travers’s, story in this edition of NNV on her neighborhood’s objection to an auto repair/tire business in that location.

Click here for photos if you didn't see them with Elaine's story above.

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Splendiferous New Mural at Hubbard Elementary School

Artist/Student venture thrills student body and community!

Whoever knew we had a “Hubbard” school here in the Alum Rock Elementary District? And, whoever heard of “June Avenue” where the school is located? Apparently some discerning folks found this tidy tree-shaded neighborhood school and loved what they saw enough to settle in and embrace it wholeheartedly. The glowing culmination of years of tireless improvement and beautification efforts is an inspired and inspiring new mural on the outside wall of the school cafeteria.

Professional muralist, Paul Gonzalez ( created a design based on hundreds of drawings from students and teachers. Months of fundraising plus support from San Jose Beautiful, the ARUSD Gifted Program, the Hubbard PTA and Tropicana Super Market made the project possible.

The mural features portraits of Cesar Chavez, Frida Kahlo, Ruby Bridges, Thurgood Marshall and Harry Wu, all activists who are role models for Hubbard students. The theme of the mural is based on a quotation from Gandhi, “Become the change you wish to see in the world” which is rendered in English, Spanish and Chinese.

The mural was unveiled in a lunchtime ceremony just before school recessed for summer. Young Artist Gonzalez, in his paint splattered pants, was on hand to receive the applause of students, teachers, parents, little siblings and community members assembled for the event. The hundreds of students who participated in the painting of the mural shared in the limelight. Upper grade students manned the mike and ran the show with great aplomb. Kids took turns explaining the features of the mural. A class of students sang “The Greatest Love.”

It was a rapturous day at Hubbard School on June Avenue in San Jose.

Click here for photos.

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The Voice of the ‘Dozer is Heard Throughout the East Side

Late in July, downtown had its awesome Grand Prix race, but Alum Rock had a whole stable of bulldozers, wrecking balls and dump trucks throughout the whole month. Properties which had sat dormant for many years, suddenly came alive with the sound of grating gears and blades biting into hard-packed earth.

The old “Baptist Barbecue” place across White Road from the James Lick parking lot had languished in squalor for probably ten years! Suddenly, two weeks ago, the squat building was gone and dump trucks were wedging their way in and out of traffic near the corner of White and Alum Rock. Next on the horizon, several retail business spaces with the requisite parking spaces.

At the same time, less than a block away to the south on White Road, the old Alum Rock Library building bit the dust to make way for the new library’s parking lot. A stone’s throw down Alum Rock Avenue, the earth was shaking and dust was flying as the James Lick athletic fields were regraded and renovated. And, not to be out-done, the old Bill’s Pony Ranch property on Alum Rock Avenue half a mile to the east suddenly came alive two years after the old houses and barn were demolished. It’s just a matter of time before home building will begin there (see related FAQs in this edition).

Then there’s the empty lot associated with the First Church of the Nazarene on Alum Rock (soon to be the home of Logos Fellowship, we believe) which was being regraded (for a new parking lot?) NNV doesn’t understand the dynamics which caused all five of these properties to suddenly warrant all this attention at the same time, but the neighborhood has come alive and the roaring heavy equipment sure beats the previous inertia!

Click here for photos.

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Bits of 1915 Natatorium Revealed in Alum Rock Park

Maintenance yard renovation exposes long-hidden structures

Could the yard be moved to less-desirable park land?

In a Letter to the Editor early in July, NNV reader Scott Paul wrote commenting on the renovation of the maintenance yard in Alum Rock Park. He pointed out that the demolition of the enclosure revealed some old buildings which he’d never seen before and that the yard is located in “the heart of the park” – the part most used by visitors. In his opinion, the maintenance yard should be moved to a less desirable area.

We strolled over for a look – mostly to see the old structures which were suddenly visible. Who knew there are remnants left of the old Natatorium which was torn down thirty-five years ago? As a matter of fact, there are two old restroom buildings which were associated with the big indoor swimming pool which was built around 1915. Bits of ornamentation matching old photos of the Natatorium as well as gracefully curved sections of old free-standing walls have been hidden behind the maintenance yard fence for decades. Also, along the back of the lot just before the abrupt rise of the canyon floor there is an old shed and a storage building which also date from the big rebuilding of the park following the dire flood of Penitencia Creek which swept the park clean in 1911. Park Ranger Doug Colbeck guided us around for a photo-shooting tour so we could document the old buildings and remnants for NNV readers before the new, improved maintenance yard fence goes up and all is obscured once again.

We asked Park Supervisor Mike McClintock if it wouldn’t be possible to relocate the maintenance yard and return this prime location to better use as space for visitors. Mike certainly agrees that the yard takes up an inordinate amount of the level part of the park. He says, however, that a move to the dump area (closer to the Penitencia Creek entrance) which was once deemed possible, has now been nixed by new environmental laws. Seems it can’t be located so close to the creek and its endangered species. Had it been moved there earlier, it would not be subject to today’s more stringent laws.

At one point, the parks folks were looking at the empty Alum Rock Stables property as a possible location for the maintenance yard. It’s nice and flat and not close to the creek. However, that pipedream was doused when it was determined that landslide-damaged Alum Rock Avenue inside the park might not be able to sustain the heavy equipment moving over its weakened surface. According to Mike, there just isn’t anyplace else suitable or feasible to which the yard could be moved. Good try, Scott! Thanks for giving us a heads-up. NNV really appreciates our readers keeping us in the loop.

Click here for photos of what we found.

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Beloved Thirty-Five Year YSI Resident Owl Passes Away

Goodbye, Old Friend

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

The Youth Science Institute has lost one of its premier educational raptors. Our elder Great Horned Owl known as “Prince” passed away in May after a stellar 35-plus year career as an educational ambassador. He took part in hundreds of educational programs during his time with YSI and engaged tens of thousands of children and adults in the wonders of science and nature.

He is greatly missed.

Click here for a photo of Prince.

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Wine, Cheese and Dessert a la Theresa and Brian Bumb

Magnificent spread for library supporters

It was one of those perfect Bay Area evenings – just cool enough to warrant the lightest of jackets. The seven o’clock twilight descended into a sparkling navy blue backdrop behind Brian and Theresa Bumb’s curvaceous pool. Forty Eastside neighbors, library enthusiasts all, joined the Bumbs for a Wine, Cheese and Dessert party just two days before the July 9th Grand Opening of our neighborhood’s splendid new Dr. Roberto Cruz/Alum Rock Library Branch.

This was the latest in a long series of “Parlor Meetings” at which the spokespeople from the San Jose Public Library Foundation have come to visit in our neighborhood to build advocacy, enthusiasm and support for our new $16.6 million branch and the other new and refurbished library branches in the San Jose system. This Parlor Meeting was held in arguably the most picturesque setting yet. Brian and Theresa’s home sits high up in the East Highlands where the views of the Santa Clara Valley go on forever ….. and ever.

This was “Wine, Cheese and Dessert” personified! A most elegant feast greeted the guests with exotic cheeses worthy of a Parisian fromagery. There was a huge plate of melon with prosciutto. The desserts included utterly fantastic pastries and sweets. There was a large tureen of fat shiny blackberries and one of huge succulent red raspberries. The forty guests (even those who made the mistake of eating their dinner prior to the party) were beguiled by the sumptuous fare and all had high praises for the caterers’ magnificent offerings.

Ned Himmel, Assistant Library Director, showed and explained renderings of the floor plan of the new branch. Boards of bright fabric swatches, carpeting squares and small samples of the solid materials used in the library were on display – inviting guests to touch and feel the textures.

The Library Foundation’s Jan Fox, Marie Bernardy and Eleanor Weber Dickman explained the need for financial support from the community. The library bonds which funded the new library covered “bricks and mortar” not books and furnishings, they said. Furnishing a new library branch takes in the neighborhood of $800,000! The Foundation’s job is to encourage people to embrace our community’s latest, finest new resource by giving financial aid.

Head librarian of the new branch, Nora Conte, was among the guests as well as our more well-known Nora, Nora Campos, City Councilmember for our district who attended with her husband, Neil Struthers. Both Noras spoke glowingly of the new branch.

Theresa Bumb has made a generous commitment to the Library Foundation by becoming a member of its Board of Directors. She has set an excellent example for our community – going the extra mile to give of her time and of herself to enhance the quality of life in East San Jose. Kudos to Theresa and Brian for their community spirit!

Click here for photos.

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San Jose Country Club --- A New Face

Charming Brit brings international know-how – and panache – to SJCC

By Eileen Parks

One afternoon recently, I had the great pleasure of spending some time talking with Michael Williams, the new manager of the San Jose Country Club. Greeted with a slightly perceptible bow, a charming English accent, and the utmost courtesy, you know you are in the company of the consummate gentleman. What a delightful complement to this tradition-rich country club.

Mike signed on last fall, but really is just coming up for air. There were a lot of changes and challenges to be met when he arrived at the club, and now that the dust has settled, he finally has taken his first day off. But a high level of commitment and a strong work ethic are what he was trained for.

Michael was born in the “south of England,” within the sound of the bells of the Winchester Cathedral. His family then moved to Cambridge, where he attended public schools (similar to our private schools). When he was just 11 years old, his parents decided to relocate to another area, and offered Michael the option of boarding at school or leaving with them. He decided to remain at school and really never lived at home again. He became active in student government, and also played Cricket, Rugby, Field Hockey and Squash, often taking a leadership role.

During that time, he developed an interest in Hotel Management and went on to the University of Surrey’s Hotel School. The finale was spending the equivalent of a one year internship at two different hotels in London, where he was expected to train in every department and in every facet of the business from making beds, to working in the kitchen, to taking reservations.

After graduation, Michael left “the horrible weather of England” and went to South Africa. He spent two years in Durban as Assistant Food and Beverage Manager in a renowned hotel, followed by another two years in Kenya, where he helped a college friend run his restaurant in Nairobi and then open a second one. That restaurant is, to this day, recognized as one of the finest on the continent.

In 1978, Michael decided to come to the United States. Do you remember the Garden City on Saratoga Avenue? There was gambling, jazz and a restaurant, and Michael had a great time managing that until 1990 when opinions on card rooms ran contrary to the feelings of the city council. Time to move on. Mike and the executive chef from the Garden City, John Petricca, partnered and decided to open their own restaurant, called 840 North First, which is where I met him in 1990.

Located across from the County building on Hedding, 840 was a great lunch time success. Weekend dinners featuring a variety of wines from all over California, and personally recommended by the ever present manager, Mike Williams, were a special treat for us. The food was a combination of California and Continental Cuisine, beautifully served, in a comfortable club-like atmosphere. Mike and his partner owned the restaurant until June 2004 when they sold and decided to move on to other venues. The country club was very lucky to catch Michael between ventures and offer him a spot at managing the clubhouse at SJCC.

Mike and his wife Beverly live in Morgan Hill. She teaches orthopedically challenged children at a school in Milpitas and is equally committed to her job at the school.

Welcome to the Williams family from the folks in the East Foothills!! We are happy to have you.

Click here for a photo of Mike Williams and here to read about the more than 100-year old San Jose Country Club.

NNV Note: Eileen Parks is a stalwart supporter of our Eastside community and a Founding Sponsor of NNV.

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The Butterflies of Alum Rock Park

Intriguing butterfly courtship habits revealed

Add watching beautiful insects to your birding jaunts

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

Alum Rock Park has had another productive nesting season. The Great Horned Owls raised another brood of two at their crevasse nest in the hillside and the Black Phoebes have fledged their second brood from the mud nest that has served them for two previous seasons. There remains a pair of Robins guarding territory near the YSI Nature Center and they continue to give our resident educational Owls grief at first sighting. Quiet chip notes have replaced the melodious songs of spring, as Grosbeaks, Flycatchers and other migrants fuel themselves for the long flight south. The Park is indeed quiet.

While the avian nesting season is winding down, there is still plenty of activity in the park. A short walk to the Mineral Springs and Sycamore Grove on a warm summer day may produce, with some patience, views of a very different kind of creature: those with three body parts, four wings, six legs and two antennae. None other than the diurnal members of the Insect Order, Lepidoptera or Butterflies!

Even during the height of the avian nesting season with the migrants in full regalia, I suspect some birders may be sporting a pair of close-focusing binoculars and a butterfly guide stashed away in their daypacks. Butterfly watching is gaining popularity and there are many good field guides available for those who are interested. Butterfly watching and birding mesh very well. Both occupy similar habitat, depending on species, and butterflies are more active during midday when birds are resting, so there is always something to see. Just like birds, butterflies can be large or small, beautifully colored or cryptically marked and they have many interesting behaviors to be observed.

One of the reasons butterflies are so much fun to watch is because many species have striking colors and patterns on their wings. These colors and patterns are very important to the butterflies. Butterflies can see all the colors humans can, as well as many in the ultraviolet spectrum. Ultraviolet colors are important for distinguishing females of the species and locating food plants.

The wings of butterflies are clear and covered with very small scales. There are approximately 125,000 scales per square inch of wing. Scales create color patterns but have other duties as well. Scales assist in absorbing or reflecting sunlight during basking and special scales on some male butterflies produce scent during courtship.

The colors on butterflies are produced in two ways, through pigment and structure, just like the feathers on a bird. Both types of scales can produce ultraviolet colors. The two main pigments are melanins and pterins. Melanins create black, brown, tan, red and dark yellow. Pterins; orange, yellow, red and sometimes white. All other colors are structural, breaking up light rays through diffraction and interference. Iridescence, metallic colors, blues, greens and some whites are produced in this manner. Clear scales that contain pockets of air create the eyespots on some butterflies. The air reflects or scatters the light making them look white. Butterflies such as the Mourning Cloak have muted coloration on the undersides of their wings for camouflage (they look like tree bark), and more brightly colored upper surfaces to communicate with other butterflies. Spots near the edges of wings and the “tails” on Swallowtails and Hairstreaks help to confuse predators as to which is the head or tail of the butterfly. Bright colors can warn predators that a butterfly is poisonous. Whites and Monarchs are both easily seen and taste terrible when eaten. Some good tasting butterflies are mimics. They have evolved to resemble those that taste bad, such as the female Black Swallowtail, and the Pipevine Swallowtail which is poisonous.

Butterflies have interesting behaviors as well. Have you ever seen a group of butterflies congregating around a moist area or mud puddle? This is called, you guessed it, puddling. Good puddling areas are depressions that fill regularly with water and evaporate concentrating minerals around the edges. Many species of butterflies will use their tongue or proboscis to suck these minerals into their mouth. Generally, males are looking for minerals to pass on to the female through their sperm during mating. The female butterfly needs these nutrients for egg development. Amino acids and sodium are the most sought-after compounds. Plants contain little sodium, which is important for general health and function, so butterflies must obtain it from other sources. Males are also attracted to carrion, scat and urine spots. Some of the species that puddle include Swallowtails, Blues, Sulphurs, the Buckeye, American Painted Ladies and Fritillaries.

A butterfly’s main endeavor of course is to find a mate. Males accomplish this in a couple of ways, perching and patrolling. Perching species such as the Mourning Cloak and Red Admiral will search for prominent lookouts such as a log, rock or vegetation in appropriate habitat where females might congregate. Since butterflies don’t have good distance vision, males will dart out to investigate anything that happens by if it resembles a female. Interested males have investigated females of other species, other animals and even humans. If the object is a female of the species, he will pursue her. Patrolling species such as Monarchs, Sulphurs and Whites will pick a ridge top or other area and fly back and forth, inspecting all comers for females of the correct species.

We have all seen butterflies sitting on a leaf, sometimes with wings open, sometimes closed. This is called basking. Butterflies are “cold blooded” or ectothermic. Optimal flying temperatures range from 85 to 100 degrees. On cool days they must warm up in the sun before they can fly. Most will begin basking during the morning hours. Some will bask with wings closed and oriented towards the sun. Others will have their wings open. Often their bodies are dark and will absorb heat more easily. Some species will have dark markings on the inside or outside of the wings near the body to assist in absorbing heat.

Butterflies are attracted to areas that have flowers to provide nectar for adults, food plants for their larvae and water. Alum Rock Park with its varied habitat is home to many species of butterflies. One of my favorite areas to observe butterflies on a warm day is by the Mineral Spring, Sycamore Grove area of the creek. This area provides all the necessary ingredients for a great morning of butterfly watching.

Of course, the most noticeable species are the Swallowtails in the Papilionidae Family. We have three species of Swallowtail in the park, Western Tiger Swallowtail Papilio rutulus, Anise Swallowtail Papilio zelicaon and Pale Swallowtail Papilio eurymedon. These are the large yellow and black striped butterflies with tails. Swallowtails are patrollers, congregating around hilltops to find mates. Females locate larval food plants to lay their eggs by tapping their forelegs on leaves to expose chemicals near the surface. This is called drumming. They will also use sight. Larvae are often black and white resembling bird droppings when newly hatched. As they mature they turn various shades of green and black to camouflage with their food plant. Some species will have eyespots on the back of the head to mimic small snakes and will raise their heads and weave back and forth when bothered. All Swallowtail larvae have a forked gland called an osmerterium that can be everted from the back of the head. This gland can release a bad odor to repel small predators. Western Tiger Swallowtails will look for Willow, Alder and other deciduous trees in the park to lay their eggs. They have one to three broods per year. Anise Swallowtails feed on Sweet Fennel and other members of the Carrot Family. Anise Swallowtails have several broods a year. The Pale Swallowtail looks very similar to the Western Tiger Swallowtail but lighter with half a twist to its long tail. The larvae feed on California Coffee Berry, Hollyleaf Cherry and Ceanothus species. There are two broods a year. All three species over-winter as a chrysalis or pupa.

The California Sister Adelpha bredowii californica, a member of the Nymphalidae Family, is a relatively large butterfly, basically black with orange tips bordered in black and a white band on the inner wings. These butterflies frequent water and areas where there are oaks. They prefer Canyon and Live Oak for laying their eggs. Males are patrollers, choosing a territory and often returning to a favorite perch after a foray. There are two to three flights or broods per year. The larvae over-winter in a nest of silk wrapped around a leaf. This is called a hibernaculum. They are common in the park during summer.

Another member of the Nymphalidae Family is the Common Checkerspot Occidryas chalcedona, a slightly smaller butterfly, strikingly marked with white and red borders on a black background and white spots on the upper and lower wings. As larvae, these butterflies ingest chemicals from their food plants that render them distasteful to predators. They are easy to follow as they fly slowly above vegetation. This butterfly uses Sticky Monkey Flower and Bee Plant as larval food plants in the park. Flight period is as early as March through July. They over-winter as larvae.

The Buckeye or Peacock Butterfly is another member of the very large Nymphalidae Family and is very common in Alum Rock Park. The large eyespots on both pairs of wings are its trademark. Male Buckeyes will stake out a territory and patrol it, investigating everything that crosses its path searching for females. Buckeye larvae feed on Monkey Flower and Plantains both found in Alum Rock Park. They are active spring through fall and have at least two broods. They over- winter as adults.

The California Ringlet Coenonympha california is not a brightly colored or easily seen insect. This small inconspicuous orange-brown butterfly is a member of the Satyr family, named for their dancing flights through the woods. Ringlets when disturbed will drop to the ground and allow their cryptic coloration to protect them from predators. The larval food is various species of grasses that do not contain poisonous chemicals to protect them. Camouflage is their primary defense. Females instead of laying a single egg on a grass leaf will spray their eggs over a grass patch while flying above. Ringlets are active from February through October and over-winter as larvae.

The Sara Orange-tip Anthocharis sara is a small member of the Peridae Family, the Whites and Sulphurs. This small whitish butterfly with orange upper wing tips and a marbled underside is one of the first butterflies to emerge in the spring. The larvae feed on plants in the Mustard family. There are two flights or broods with the second brood over-wintering as a chrysalis. Members of this family bask in such a way that the light is reflected off the white wings and onto their darker bodies. This is called reflectance basking.

These are some of the many species of butterflies to be found in Alum Rock Park. There are many more species to be seen and enjoyed. A short walk along the North Rim Trail might produce Painted Ladies, Whites and Sulphurs. Blues, Hairstreaks and Tortoiseshells can be seen along the canyon floor near the creek and Monarchs can be seen throughout the park although they are not common. So, come on out and take a walk along the creek or the canyon trails and experience what Alum Rock Park has to offer! I can guarantee some interesting birds and butterflies will be just around the corner.

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Alum Rock Park

July, 2005

By Roger Abe

high noon –
the heat has risen
to Eagle Rock

a warning rattle
and the snake disappears –
almost as fast as you

still and quiet
as the shaded branches –
the turkey children

either the lizard
or the sulfur spring gurgles –
kids pinch their noses

in the summer dusk
the stones of the last bridge growl
“Trespassers Will”

while waiting for the fireworks show
watching all the illegal ones

The Moon of Ripe Berries
splashes its juices at us –
Coyote laughter

NNV Note: Roger Abe is a ranger in Alum Rock Park. He is a member of Yuki Teikei Haiku Society.

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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.

August Hot Topics

By University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede

Call the Master Gardener Hotline at (408) 282-3105 with your gardening questions or check out our website at

Ants: The first step of ant control is to clean up any food crumbs or spills that might attract the ants. Store food in tight containers. Next, keep the ants out by caulking cracks and crevices. Use boric acid bait stakes or stations. Place baits in locations that are not accessible to pets or children. Control with baits can take several weeks. Sprays containing pyrethrin (not synthetic pyrethroids) can be effective if the directions are following precisely. If ants are a problem in trees, control them by applying a sticky substance such as Tanglefoot on top of a low trunk wrap of tape or fabric. Check every two weeks to renew. The UC IPM pest note is found at

Yellowjackets and Wasps: These insects can be solitary or live in group nests above and below ground. Yellowjackets can be aggressive when defending their nests so avoid the area where possible. Paper wasps on the other hand will avoid contact. When eating outdoors, keep foods well covered. One strategy is to put out bait such as a piece of meat or an opened soda can some distance from the table before setting out the human food. Trapping the queens in the spring and workers during the summer can reduce local populations. See the thorough UC IPM pest note at

Pantry Pests: Are you seeing small moths flying out of cabinets or beetles in dry foods? These pests can be brought into the home in packaged food and spread to open packages of other foods. Both the insect and its waste products contaminate the food. There is no chemical control. Pheromone traps exist for the Indian mealmoth only. The traps do not attract beetles. Carefully inspect all food packages in the pantry and toss out those with any sign of infestation. Wash shelving with soap and water. Vacuum crevices to remove all insect bits. Store rarely used items such as pancake flour or cornmeal in the freezer or in an airtight container. The pest note has more at

Mites: The dusty days of midsummer are when mites get active. Although they look like insects, mites are actually arachnids related to spiders and ticks. Mature mites have eight legs but young only have six. Webspinning spider mites suck nutrients from the undersides of leaves, making for a silvery or stippled appearance. Some webbing may be seen, the leaves will turn yellow and drop off. Water-stressed plants are more susceptible. Spider mites have numerous predators including lacewings, assassin bugs, damsel bugs, minute pirate bugs, bigeyed bugs, and sixspotted thrips. Predatory mites are larger, pear-shaped, and without the spots that are evident on the spider mites. See further information at

Pitch Canker: This disease arrived in 1986 and has spread through most of the Central Coast. Symptoms on native pines (especially the Monterey Pine) include branch dieback that may eventually result in the death of the tree. A fungus causes lesions that spread to girdle twigs and branches causing the tip needles to wilt, turn yellow, then red and fall off. Infected trees are often attacked by insects. Not all infected trees die and some trees actually go into remission. For aesthetic reasons, pruning of dead branches can be done but tree removal should be delayed unless the tree becomes a hazard. Susceptibility charts for different pines can be found at

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

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

bulletDid the architects of our new library intentionally construct “pigeon perches”?
bulletCan we expect a better collection of books and materials in our new library than the old one?
bulletWhat kind of little trees have been installed along the sidewalks of the new library?
bulletWill the Mervyn’s store on Story Road become a Home Depot?
bulletThey’ve finally begun grading the big empty Bill’s Pony Ranch lot. What happens next?
bulletWhat in the world is happening at the James Lick High School sports fields?
bulletWhy did they cut down the big eucalyptus trees which used to be on the Lick athletic fields?
bulletHow’s come there are funds to build new athletic fields in ESUHSD now?
bulletWhy don’t “they” fix the front entrance to Lick High?
bulletIs it true that James Lick High School has a full time policeman on the campus?

Q. Did the architects of our new library intentionally construct “pigeon perches” along the sides of the buildings to attract our flying, feathered rats? It sure looks like it!

A. While they do look very “perchable” it seems that these light baffles help to shade the windows and they are shaped in such a way that pigeons can’t comfortably get their talons around them to get a grip. They are made of thin material with a curve in it, according to Domenic Onorato of the San Jose Public Works Dept. and they don’t expect any roosting problems with them. Click here for a photo.

Q. In our new “Cruz/Alum Rock Library” (shall we call it “The “CARL” to match our airport’s nickname “The Norm”?) can we expect a better collection of books and materials than the little old library had?

A. Well, according to one knowledgeable NNV reader who generally can be expected to render a jaundiced point of view, our new library “is great and has a much improved selection of books, music and dvds, particularly new materials.” Said reader checked out “1776” and two recent classical CDs on opening day. He even went so far as to compliment “the very good availability of what one might see in’s ‘best of’ lists and other literature reviews.” High praise from a self-proclaimed curmudgeon!

Q. What kind of little trees have been installed in the sidewalk planting pockets along the sidewalks of the new library? They look a little beleaguered, don’t they?

A. The tag on one of them reads “Chanticleer Pear” so they’ll probably match the flowering, ornamental pear trees which are planted on either side of Alum Rock Avenue in The Village. They put on a wonderful show of white blossoms every spring. The small trees probably are a little stressed due to being planted in sunny locations during hot, breezy weather, but they certainly helped dress up the new facility for Grand Opening Day.

Q. A rumor is floating around that the Mervyn’s store on Story Road will be torn down so that a Home Depot can be constructed on its lot. Could this possibly be true?

A. Yep! NNV talked with Mervyn’s manager, “Cassandra,” and she said that last winter, the Home Depot Corporation bought the property and the entire Mervyn’s Plaza center will be bulldozed to make way for a Home Depot store. She wasn’t sure just how long the Mervyn’s employees would be working at the Story Road store – “maybe through Christmas or New Years,” she opined. She thinks the employees will be absorbed by other stores in the chain. In NNV’s opinion, having a near-by Home Depot is an enormous plus for the neighborhood, but woe unto OSH which will face some stiff competition.

Q. They’ve finally begun grading the big empty lot where Bill’s Pony Ranch used to be. What happens next?

A. The lot on the south side of the 5100 block of Alum Rock Avenue (just west of Fleming Avenue) is finally going to be developed after about two years of sitting empty except for some graffiti-covered dumpsters. A small watchman’s (?) trailer was moved onto the lot about six months ago leading the neighbors to think that something was going to happen very soon. However, the trailer came – and went - with no signs of occupation.

Now NNV hears from Councilmember Nora Campos that the plan for about twenty single-family homes to be built on the lot has been revived and approved. She expressed her disappointment that the prices of the homes will all be at least $800,000. She said that the developer did a bit of sleight of hand and managed to get approval from the County for the expensive homes before the parcel was annexed by the City. It usually happens the other way around, apparently. When an Unincorporated County parcel is developed, it automatically goes through the City annexation process. In this case, it’s too late for the City to make sure there are some affordable homes in the complex.

Click here for photos of construction in our area.

Q. What in the world is happening at the James Lick High School sports fields? They’re not going to build houses there, are they?

A. The recent demolition of the old athletic fields and football stadium promises a radical improvement of the sports facilities for Lick students. According to Director Bill Rice, a new football field/soccer field/track is being created. The project which was to have included only the football facilities, has grown to include the refurbishment of the baseball field, too.

Like Piedmont Hills High School’s new field, Lick’s new football/soccer field will have artificial turf which will be much easier to maintain than the grass field was. Because the project will not be finished until possibly the end of December, this fall’s football games will all be played at either the Piedmont or Overfelt stadium.

The renovated baseball field is being realized due to a serendipitous outcome of the work on the football field. It turned out to be an easy-to-do add-on (sort of a “well, while we’re here anyway, we might as well use our equipment to improve the whole enchilada” if you will). The baseball field will be natural grass, says Mr. Rice. It will be ready in plenty of time for next year’s baseball season.

Click here for photos of the work in progress.

Q. Why did they have to cut down the big eucalyptus trees which used to be on the Lick athletic fields? And, why are those old baseball bleachers sitting stranded among the work which is going on?

A. Because its footprint is larger than the old stadium, the new football/soccer field had to be rebuilt at a bit of an angle to the old one. The roots of the old euks were preventing leveling the ground there. Not everyone is happy to lose big, old trees, but sometimes something’s got to give. The old bleachers will be reused at the new baseball field. The budget just wouldn’t stretch to provide new ones.

Q. How’s come there are funds to build new athletic fields at high schools in ESUHSD when they’re letting teachers go and cutting back on programs?

A. Well, there was a bond measure several years back which provides for facility improvements in the district. The funds are for brick and mortar projects rather than staff and programs. About two years ago when NNV interviewed then Lick principal Bernardo Olmos, he spoke of plans to re-do the athletic fields so, while it’s a new idea for us neighbors, it’s been in the works for awhile.

Q. Why don’t “they” fix the front entrance to Lick High? Isn’t having a welcoming entrance just as important as athletic fields?

A. The front of the school on White Road sure hasn’t kept up with the improvements to the parking lot! That situation is going to be remedied probably starting in September. Bill Rice told NNV that a new circular driveway will pass by the main entrance to the school and there will even be some guest parking spaces provided. Perhaps the school’s marble steps (yea, verily!) at the entrance can be spruced and polished up to create a more important portal for our neighborhood’s seat of learning.

Q. Is it true that James Lick High School has a full time policeman on the campus? What does this say about our local high school?

A. To answer the second query first, it doesn’t mean anything sinister about Lick High. But it is true. All the local high schools have at least one full time policeman on the campus. Click here for a photo of the JLHS police.

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Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
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Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 8/9/05.

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