I have long been a fan of mass transit, having written letters about Measures A & B to the Mercury News when I was in high school, making a point of riding public transit when I travel in the U.S. and abroad, and so forth. But rarely have I ridden the busses in and around San Jose. I tried an experiment a couple years back using Light Rail and Caltrain to commute to a job in San Mateo. After the first try - two and a half hours each way - I resigned myself to driving.
Since starting a position in Palo Alto a little over a year ago, I’ve tried every way to get there efficiently from my house on Gordon Avenue, with mixed results over the 22-mile stretch. Most days that I drive straight to work over a few different routes, I log my “doorstep to desktop” times in a spreadsheet to track the travel times. The time varies from an excellent 29 minutes to an unbearable hour and fifteen minutes on bad days.
I had tried using the VTA’s Route 64 bus from Gordon & McKee, in conjunction with Express Bus 104, but only one of the 64 runs connects to one of Express 104’s three morning busses. And it entails being at the bus stop at 6:00 AM. The Express 104 stops close to my office, on Page Mill Road near El Camino Real, but the cost of a day pass necessary for transfers, is $10.50. Even just two one-way express trips from the Penitencia Creek Park and Ride totals $7.00. Gas and maintenance are comparable, but by leaving at 6:00 AM, I only need 30 minutes to drive to work. Time is valuable!
Enter the VTA’s new Rapid 522 bus. These funky red and blue busses with the funny paint job run every 15 minutes from Eastridge up Capitol Expressway and Capitol Avenue, then down Alum Rock to Santa Clara Street, the Alameda, and up El Camino Real all the way to Palo Alto, on a route similar to Route 22. But the Rapid 522 stops only 30 times, compared to dozens and dozens and dozens of stops on Route 22. And the Rapid 522 does not stop to wait for a schedule. Riders get there as soon as possible, for $1.75 each way.
For the last few weeks, at least one day a week, I have been taking the Rapid 522 to work. Westbound (toward Palo Alto) trips take me about an hour and 10 minutes in the morning. In the afternoons, the return trip is closer to an hour and a half. So on days with busy afternoons/evenings, or when I need to do something other than going straight home after work, I take my car. But the rest of the time it makes more sense to leave it in East Side, spare the air, save a buck, and ride the bus!
|Busses to Palo Alto||Express 104||Route 64 with Express 104||Rapid 522|
|Availability||3 times in morning,
3 in afternoon
|1 in morning*, 3 in afternoon
(*due to connections)
|All day: 5 am to 8pm,
every 15 minutes
|Outbound travel time||1 hour||90 minutes||1 hour, 10 minutes|
|Pickup||Penitencia Creek LR||McKee at Gordon||Alum Rock & Capitol|
NNV Note: Early in September, John e-mailed us from his cell phone (remember John is typing this on his phone):
"Hi Judy, I am trying an experiment this morning: taking the rapid 522 bus to PA. So far so good, except for one community issue. Near the corner of alum rock and cap there is a ton of trash at the busstop but a receptacle close by, at the corner. Clearly this is not close enough and ppl are leaving litter behind before boarding a bus. Whom do we need to contact to get that trash can moved 25 feet? Suggestions welcome, -john"
We suggested he contact VTA at http://www.vta.org/misc/care/tell_us.html. John reports that VTA called him back the very next day and promised to have someone look at the situation. He doesn't think they moved the trash can any closer, but the stop has gotten (a little bit) cleaner.
Click here for scenes from the bus (our first camera phone photos in NNV!).
On September 8, 2005, Trustee Esau Ruiz Herrera filed his resignation from the Governing Board of the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District, effective October 14, 2005. At a special meeting on October 26, 2005, the Board intends to make a provisional appointment to fill this pending vacancy. Such appointee's term shall expire in November 2006.
Persons interested in being considered for the Board's appointment to fill the vacancy, and who are otherwise eligible to serve as a member of the Governing Board, should submit a written letter of interest to the Superintendent's Office, so that it is received by the Superintendent’s Office no later than 4:00 p.m. on October 19, 2005. The letter of interest should include a statement of interest in the position and a listing of the applicant's relevant experience and qualifications.
|U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren Announces $575,000 Funding to Fight Youth Crime Here|
|Give the Gift of Reading! Become a Reading/Writing Tutor for an Adult from Lizelle Festejo|
|Richard Brown’s Alum Rock Park Photo of the Month - Run, Sue, run!|
|Just For Fun – Wine, Good Food, Toe-Tapping (and Hip-Wiggling) Music at the Rauhs'|
|PACT Celebrates Twenty Years – Memorializes Rev. Mary Parker-Eves|
|Be the First to Know (About San Jose planning permits, etc.) from Councilmember Chuck Reed|
|One-Day Diet Advice – Eat ALL You Want For A Great Cause at ARYC|
|Help ARYC add programs and resources – Sell your treasures, buy new ones by Tanya Freudenberger|
|On Alum Rock Avenue: Little Ornamental Pear Trees at the new library fall victim to vandals|
|On McKee Road: Free gasoline perhaps?|
|Dry – Still Dry - Wildfire season lingers on - A poem by Clyde Shurtz|
|Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department Enters 50th Year of Service|
|US Rep. Pombo Named One of "The Thirteen Most Corrupt Members of Congress"|
Representative Zoe Lofgren and her entourage descended on East San Jose with an enormous commotion on Thursday, September 1st. A grand “media alert” and “photo/interview opportunity” message preceded the noontime meeting in the gymnasium of the Alum Rock Youth Center on White Road. The audience, including a passel of kids from Pala Middle School ensconced on the bleachers, were placed “just so” to give ample camera shots to the assemblage of television photographers. “Think ‘photo-op!’” hissed the aides who arranged guests in symmetrical semi-circles fanning out from the microphone – standing up.
Rep. Lofgren, with the help of City Councilmember Nora Campos and County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, had excellent news to share with the community. Because of our local leaders’ “combined efforts to develop creative programs and initiatives,” Rep. Lofgren says she has been able to secure $400,000 in the 2006 federal budget for our county’s Juvenile Detention Reform Initiative and a $175,000 justice department grant for East San Jose’s “Weed and Seed” program. The purpose of the initiative is to reduce the rate of incarceration of local teenagers. Weed and Seed refer to “weeding out drugs and violent crime” while “planting the seeds of renewal,” according to Lofgren.
Councilmember Campos pointed out that the funding would be put to good use cracking down on crime in the Alum Rock area. The funds will allow us to “focus our police resources,” she said.
Sheila Mitchell, Chief Probation Officer of the county’s probation department, described the “Evening Reporting Center” which her department plans to open in January to provide a place for teens to take part in skill-building activities rather than being on the streets during the hours of 3 to 9 PM. Superior Court Judge Richard Loftus, the head of the county’s juvenile delinquency division, spoke enthusiastically about the center-to-be. The program will cost taxpayers $62 per day per teenager rather than the $230 per day per teenager at juvenile hall.
A handsomely suited young man, a graduate of the “Fresh Lifelines for Youth” (FLY) program spoke eloquently of the changes FLY has brought to his life. Frank Flores, as poised at the microphone as any of the foregoing speakers, told about gang life and how much hate he had inside before he was sent at age 16 to the FLY program at James Lick High School. His tale of his life with “divorced, drug-using” parents and his new-found success as a peer leader and activities organizer, brought loud applause from the emotional audience. NNV readers might want to watch for young Mr. Flores to take on leadership challenges in our community in the future.
With the alert-and-op just about over, Ms. Lofgren slowly inched her way out of the youth center encased in a mob of microphone-wielding reporters. Your NNV photographer snapped a final photo of the representative thus surrounded before she headed off to Washington (or on the way to her next “op”) – and then your photographer, alerted-and-opped out, headed back down humdrum White Road.
Click here for photos from this event.
Can you imagine a life not being able to read a newspaper, complete a job application, or manage a checkbook? What few people know is that more than 400,000 adults in Santa Clara County are functioning at the lowest literacy level. These adults are often limited in their competence to achieve personal or financial independence. In turn, low literacy affects their ability to help their children learn, compete in the job market, and exercise their civic rights.
Vision Literacy is a free service of the Santa Clara County Library that has been helping English speaking adults gain better reading and writing skills for nearly 20 years. Make a difference in East San José and help an adult learner achieve their goals. We have a critical need for volunteer tutors in the Alum Rock/East San José area. To be a volunteer tutor, you must be 18 years or older. We also ask that you would be able to volunteer for at least 6 months, with a minimum commitment of 2 hours per week.
Benefits include a free 12.5 hour training, ongoing literacy support, free literacy materials to use with learners, and an opportunity to become more involved in the well-being of our community.
To learn more about the program, call the Vision Literacy office at (408) 262-1349 for dates on upcoming volunteer orientations. Please visit our website at www.visionliteracy.org for more information about our organization. Join us and become one of our partners creating opportunities!
NNV Note: Your editor served as a volunteer
literacy tutor in Orange County for several years and found the experience to be
totally rewarding and fun. Tutees included a senior citizen from Nicaragua, a
teenage boy from the Middle East, and two young Mexican mothers. Twenty-five
years later we’re still in touch with one of the latter. This is one of those
rare volunteer opportunities where truly fundamental good is accomplished and
rewards are almost immediate!
Early in September, neighbor Richard Brown set out to record some Autumn scenes in Alum Rock Park. On his very first foray, he snapped a photo of the Smokey Bear sign on the park’s southern service road. Making a play on words, Richard called it “First sign of fall.”
Accompanying that photo was a beautiful untitled photo which takes the breath away with its exquisite composition and texture. Richard captures a small figure (his wife, Sue), running on a golden trail among fallen buckeye leaves, past a row of naked trees whose branches seem to reach out menacingly to snag unsuspecting Sue – or does she sense the danger and hasten her pace?
Click here to see Richard's photo.
When you have a vineyard in your back yard and more friends than you can count, what do you do for fun? Why, hold an enormous party every year celebrating wine and friendships, of course! That’s just what Ellen and Gary Rauh did on a chilly (to put it mildly) Saturday night about two weeks ago.
The Rauhs’ sloping East foothills property covers more elevations than you can shake a stick at – and they take advantage of them all. There were tables of folks in the front yard, on one of the back decks, on various landings on the hillside, in the vineyard under a tent and even a hundred feet further on down the hill. There were people in so many locations that it’s not clear if even the Rauhs knew how many were on hand.
Almost everyone was a wine enthusiast and they brought wine and they tasted wine and they drank wine. The Rauhs provided plenty more to warm their guests’ heart cockles (and eventually their frozen digits) including some with their own Vista Vineyards label. Home base for the evening was the lower deck on the back of Ellen and Gary’s home. This is the level of the house dedicated to their wine-making operation. Guests explored the wine cellar and learned a little wine lore from Gary and his neighbors, including the grape growing season “Véraison” being celebrated. This busy deck was also the site of the barbeque dinner fixin’s (catered by Fred Mills of Ribs on the Run) and DJ Chon Mata of Karaoke Onda Productions spinning Top 40’s, Oldies, Country and a little Latin music. That deck was jumpin’!
Also jumpin’ until the sun set were little kids in a jump house arranged just for them. The Rauhs don’t hesitate to pull out all the stops! Neighborhood friends, including Ellen and Gary's new and old real estate clients raved at the wonderful ribs, chicken and fixin's. There were few hips which weren’t twitchin’ to Chon’s rhythms. The evening dwindled down pleasantly to tables of friends sharing stories and sipping wine by candlelight.
Click here for jumpin' photos. Click here to read more about Vista Vineyards.
PACT (People Acting in Community Together) has been helping “the little guy” find his voice for twenty years. Since 1985, PACT has taught citizens to hold their local elected officials accountable thus making this a better, more fair, place to live. PACT calls itself a “cornerstone of civic engagement” and, so it is – with its mission of improving the lives of children and families in Santa Clara County.
Each fall PACT holds an annual “Leadership Luncheon” which brings together more than five hundred corporate leaders, politicians, and grassroots community leaders to celebrate outstanding members of the community who have demonstrated civic leadership for the well-being of Silicon Valley. At this year’s event, PACT champion, the late Rev. Mary Parker-Eves, pastor of Alum Rock Methodist Church, who passed away early this year, will be remembered.
"Few people better exemplify PACT’s mission and values than Reverend Mary Parker-Eves. Our beloved Mary helped build a strong local organizing committee of committed church leaders. Mary and her congregation played a vital role in PACT’s many campaigns focused on children and youth and she worked tirelessly to bring other Methodist churches into PACT,” said Donna Furuta, veteran PACT Leader at Alum Rock United Methodist Church.
“Pastor Mary always made it clear to the congregation that we are obligated as Christians to ACT on our values, not just preach them. And to Mary, acting on our values meant always inviting people to become involved in PACT's faith based organizing."
PACT will also honor Peter Hero, President of Community Foundation Silicon Valley as its Leadership in Action honoree and Jim and Ann McEntee as its Community Builder honorees. The McEntees have been Eastside neighborhood stalwarts for many years. Jim passed away last year.
The luncheon will be held on Thursday, October 27th at the Wyndam Hotel (new location), 1350 N. First St., San Jose, 11:45 AM to 1:30 PM. To reserve or for more information call (408) 998-8001 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you ever wonder if there are pending plans for the vacant lot next door or down the street?
Would you like to know when a developer or property owner is proposing a new project in your neighborhood?
Well now, you can automatically be emailed a notice of pending planning permits in your community!!
Consistent with the updated City of San Jose’s Council Policy on Public Outreach, this system will notify subscribers, within 10 working days of submittal, that a planning permit application was submitted in their Council District and/or Strong Neighborhoods Initiative Area of interest. Subscribers will receive email notification on most permit applications including rezonings, General Plan amendments, conditional use and special use permits, site development permits, single family house permits and tree removal permits.
To check out this service and/or to sign up, go to: https://www.sjpermits.org/permits/permits/. You will need to sign up to use this service.
It’s time for your once a year pancake and sausage binge! For a very good cause like the Alum Rock Youth Center, you can thumb your nose at your dainty diet and eat like a wanton hedonist – for just this one meal. You’ll find stacks of flapjacks, scads of sausage patties, buckets of syrup, coffee and juice – and you can eat all you want just like you did when you were twelve.
And, it only costs five bucks. As in $5.00! Where else can you ruin your appetite for a full day for five lousy bucks? And, where else can you feed your face and your family’s and do a good deed at the same time? Our neighborhood’s crackerjack Alum Rock Youth Center is gearing up for its second annual “Pancake Breakfast Celebration and Fundraiser.” Recreation Supervisor Ed Solis and the ARYC Advisory Committee vow to make this sticky-hands party even better than last year’s. Which, by the way, was a huge success with kids, parents, and honchos all sitting down together and chewing the fat, er … sausage. Community volunteers man (and woman) the cooking grills and serving tables. Who knows what luminaries you might see up to their elbows in batter or wiping sausage splatter off their glasses? Even if you eschew the sausage (this is a play on words) being able to watch the amateur chefs and waitstaffers will be worth the price of admission. Remember, it’s just five ducats.
Have you mopped up your watering mouth long enough to grab a fat pen to enter Saturday, October 8th on your calendar? Write in “8:00 to 11:00 A.M.” please. Then be there (at the place to be – 137 N. White Road) or be a four-equal-sided plane figure. (Did you get that one?)
See the NNV Community Bulletin Board to read Ed Solis’ “personal” invitation to the event.
On Saturday, October 15, the Alum Rock Youth Center Advisory Team is hosting a FLEA MARKET from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM as a fun way of raising money to support activities at the Alum Rock Youth Center. In the current climate of budget squeezing, the Advisory Team is determined to add activities and programs at the youth center. The Advisory Team is determined to continue to add resources and energy to our commitment to contribute to the safety and well being of our kids in the Alum Rock area.
There are FOUR ways you can help:
Donate $10 to the ARYC as "rent" for space to sell your goods (such as household items, clothing, cars, furniture) in the parking lot next to the youth center at 137 North White Road
Donate items in good condition to the cause. The Advisory Team will have our own table to sell your "junque" and 100% goes into the ARYC account (you can also donate your dollars in any condition)
Donate your time to help us set up and sell at our ARYC table (we have shade for us)
Come to the Flea Market with your friends on the 15th to buy stuff!
Additionally, youth center staff will set up an area to sell drinks and hot dogs.
• If you wish to rent a space to sell your items, please call the youth center at (408) 251-5757 for a reservation and/or more information.
• If you wish to donate items and/or time for the Advisory Team table, please call me at (408) 509-0316.
We hope you’ll support both the Flea Market on October 15 and the Pancake Breakfast Fund Raiser on October 8 but even if you can’t, please stop by the Youth Center to meet the motivated, creative staff and check out the activities. You will see why Alum Rock Youth Center is a model program in Santa Clara County.
Click here for a flyer you can print for your friends (or save it and e-mail to them).
During the weekend of September 10-11, some cretins decided it would be hilarious fun to destroy some small trees which were planted to beautify our new Cruz-Alum Rock Library. Three of the five handsome little trees planted on the Alum Rock Avenue side of the building were snapped off. NNV hopes the vandals really beefed up their puny biceps during this exercise. We’re sure this was an activity they will be proud to tell their grandchildren about.
Click here for a photo.
The Beacon station at the corner of McKee and Toyon had this absolutely blank sign luring patrons into the station for gas that seemed to cost nada. NNV wondered if the price changed so fast (in the upward direction, of course) that they didn’t even try to keep up with it. (Or perhaps they had to order some numeral “3’s”?)
Click here for a photo.
The thunder and lightening storm that noisily blustered its way into our neighborhood on the last day of summer may have huffed and puffed like it had some real importance, but, in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t do a whit to alter our super-dry conditions. We still must wait until the real soaking rains come – this month if we’re lucky – to let our guard down and forget about the threat of wildfires for another season.
The enormous growth of weeds spawned by the record-breaking rains which fell well into the month of June, has created a fuel-load of dangerous proportions in our Wildland Urban Interface areas here at the base of the East Foothills. We’ll have to continue to be vigilant and practice Fire Safe ways until Mother Nature turns on the winter wet stuff.
Meanwhile, stoic, heroic Smokey Bear stands guard in Alum Rock Park quietly reminding visitors of the high fire danger in our area. And neighborhood historian, Carol Schultz shares a hot, dry, timely poem written by her late uncle during Kansas Dustbowl days in the early 1930’s. Clyde Shurtz of Wallace, Kansas (no, that’s not a typo - Shurtz is a family name and Carol’s married name is actually Carol Shurtz Schultz!) captured his frustration with the drought - on paper.
Oh! My Western Kansas land,
Upon the burning hills I stand.
I look across the parched plains,
And wonder why it never rains.
My cattle smell like frying steaks,
And in the ground, my taters bake.
My chickens are so gosh-derned poor,
They pick the crumbs from ‘round my door.
My hogs are getting mighty thin,
And there’s no feed in the old corn bin.
For garden crops, I spent all my coppers,
Now all I have are big, fat hoppers.
And still I stay … I wonder why.
Neighborhood sculptor, Keith Bush and his wife LaJune, have a chubby blue-eyed blond cat who is serving for the inspiration for Keith’s feline series called (like the cat): Bogart. Like its flesh-and-whiskers counterpart, Keith’s “B.T. Cat” has a low-to-the-ground (actually on the ground) tummy.
Created by Keith in his Highland Drive studio, B.T.C. is made of COR-TEN steel. B.T.C. “cat-priciously” (as Keith says) and plumply fills a large corner of the Bushes’ front yard. Readers can see an assortment of Keith’s varied and capricious sculptures adorning several East Highlands homes including a large piece at the edge of the Bushes’ driveway on Highland Drive near the intersection of Brundage Way. Visit Keith’s website to see lots more including his prize-winners.
Click here for a photo of B.T.C.
This September, the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department entered its 50th year of providing outstanding recreational opportunities and precious natural resources for Santa Clara County residents. This golden legacy has resulted in one of the largest regional park systems in the state, with 28 county parks covering nearly 45,000 acres.
"Our mission - 'to provide, protect and preserve regional parklands for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations' - is thriving," said Lisa Killough, director of the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department. "We are dedicated to giving the public many wonderful chances for experiencing the dynamic natural beauty of Santa Clara County."
County parks are regional parks - located close to home, yet away from the pressures of the valley's urban lifestyle. The parks offer opportunities to all County residents for recreation in a natural environment to all County residents. Regional parks are larger in size - usually more than 200 acres - than local neighborhood or community parks. Many of the County's regional parks also feature points of local historic interest.
"For 50 years, the Parks Department has prided itself in offering an array of unique, scenic and pleasing outdoor venues that serve a variety of interests," said Killough. "This year - our 50th - is a celebration of our accomplishments, and we look forward to providing new places for our active community to enjoy for the next 50 years and beyond."
Santa Clara County acquired its first parkland in 1924, purchasing 400 acres near Cupertino in what would become Stevens Creek County Park. Since 1972, Santa Clara County Parks has been administered through a unique set-aside of the County General Fund. Last approved by County voters in 1996, the “Park Charter Fund” provides the necessary financing for the expansion, development and stewardship of the Santa Clara County park system.
For more information about the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department and its beautiful parks, please visit www.ParkHere.org.
US Representative Richard Pombo has just been named one of "the thirteen most corrupt members of Congress" by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), whose list indicts ethics-challenged members of both parties of congress (San Jose Mercury News, September 25, 2005, Page 7A). A Republican, Representative Pombo's congressional district includes Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin in Santa Clara County as well as Danville, Dublin, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Stockton and Tracy in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Joaquin Counties. Click here for the CREW Web site.
Meanwhile, Pombo's opponents "feel that it is time to take the effort to oust Pombo to another level." Click here for their Web site.
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Everyone loves music, whether its Bach, Bacarach or Bon Jovi. Did you know there’s a gem of an event in our neighborhood that most of us know little or nothing about? On a frequent and regular basis, Foothill Presbyterian Church on McKee Road near Toyon is host to a very impressive Musical Concert Series. It is open to the public, and involves semi-professional and professional musicians from all over the country featuring a wide variety of music.
Baritone Robert Harrison will certainly be one of the program highlights. On October 2nd, he will sing selections varying from sacred music to Cole Porter, Andrew Lloyd Weber and Rogers & Hammerstein tunes. His beautiful lyrical voice and performing talent have been appreciated by Opera San Jose, local Rep companies, and Schola Cantorum. If you like Baroque, you will love the Farallon Quartet, a recorder ensemble which is tops in the US. If you like choral music, don’t miss Voices of the Valley, a 50- person community chorus. There will also be a jazz concert this season, and another event featuring a bluegrass band, Sidesaddle & Co.
The inspiration behind this series resides in one very small, dynamic and enormously talented young woman named Jay Jordana. She graduated from San Jose State with a degree in music and vocal performance. She has sung a capella jazz with +4db, done a European tour with SoVoSo, been assistant conductor to the Choraliers and San Jose Chamber Orchestra, sung for Opera San Jose, and done sound track for an independent art film. Aside from being the Music Director for Foothill Presbyterian Church, she is also currently the vocal jazz instructor for the Alum Rock Jazz Band, a program for middle school youngsters.
Five years ago, Jay had the grand idea to bring some of the talent she has come in contact with to our own backyard. She explained that there is little if any musical presence in the east side, and that Foothill Presbyterian Church is widely appreciated for its marvelous acoustics. The word has spread. The series has grown from three events five years ago, to seven this season. She is now having to turn groups down for this season and is already scheduling for 2007.
It’s exciting and it’s right here on McKee Road. Look for publicity for upcoming concerts on the church marquee, on the NNV Community Bulletin Board or in the San Jose Mercury News under Community Events. Concerts are usually held on a Sunday afternoon. The church appreciates a $10 donation for the events which include the concert and an opportunity to meet the performers at a reception following the performance.
See you there! Call Jay Jordana at (408) 258-8133 x105 for more details.
Click here for a photo of Jay.
In 2000, the County’s Children’s Shelter consistently exceeded its maximum capacity of 132 children. This overcrowding made it more difficult for the County to maintain a safe environment for the children. It also heightened concerns that some County residents have expressed about the appropriateness of the Shelter as a placement option. These factors led the County’s Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to develop programs that place children in more appropriate placements faster.
Over the past two years, these programs have successfully reduced the Shelter’s average daily population from 107 to 28 children. Although the Shelter remains an emergency, short-term residence for a small number of children, much of its facilities were underutilized. To discuss and recommend alternative uses for the Shelter, County staff and community stakeholders formed a Shelter Reuse Committee in August 2003.
The Committee identified many community needs associated with families and children where using the Shelter buildings could make an important difference. After approximately six months of work, the Committee recommended to the Board of Supervisors that the County focus on three main areas. These areas are educational support for foster youth, family mental health services, and family visitation, since they have the greatest gap between need and current service levels.
At the June 2004 Budget Hearings, the Board of Supervisors allocated $240,000 from the Food Stamp Liability reserve for two pilot programs using the Shelter facilities. DFCS began operating the programs in January 2005, in partnership with the County Mental Health Department and the County Office of Education. One program offers family mental health services and the other provides educational support for foster youth. Also this year, the Department of Child Support Services began leasing space in its building to Community Solutions, which provides supervised family visitations in San Jose.
The Family Mental Health Program seeks to improve children’s mental health by offering enhanced screening, assessment, monitoring and coordination of mental health services. Mental health professionals at the Shelter provide screening services within 24 hours to all children who experience a change in placement or removal from their home. If needed, staff may complete a full mental health assessment and collaborate with the social worker, family members or other caregivers to formulate an initial care plan. To ensure the children’s quality of care, mental health staff will coordinate monthly meetings between service providers and stakeholders to monitor the status of their treatment. The program also provides referrals for an array of community-based services, such as parenting education classes and family counseling.
The Educational Support for Foster Children Program provides strategies for improving literacy and attendance rates to help children achieve academic success within the traditional school setting. Specially trained teachers work with children, their caregivers, school personnel and community members to identify ways and resources to strengthen a child’s academic skills. The program, called Success Camp, involves a three-day curriculum of interactive instruction and recreation specifically designed for children in the child welfare system. The curriculum also teaches children resiliency skills, which include coping, cooperation and self-management.
The County will evaluate the success of its pilot programs using four different performance measures: (1) increased number of children receiving mental health services, (2) increased resiliency skills, (3) improved understanding of what skills are needed to succeed, and (4) client satisfaction. Although the pilot programs are still in the early stages of implementation, County staff already reports seeing positive impacts from these initiatives. Since launching in January, more than 150 children have been enrolled in the Mental Health Program pilot. Of those enrolled, more than three-quarters have completed their mental health assessment, and more than half have completed or will soon complete Success Camp.
The County and the community have made an investment in the Shelter and we need to continue to use it. These two pilot programs support the overall goals of DFCS to enhance its services for foster youth and help keep families from re-entering the child welfare system. As a member of the Board of Supervisors, I remain committed to keeping our children safe and healthy whether they are in their homes, schools, or neighborhoods. I believe that children in the County’s child welfare system should be no exception.
Supervisor, District Three
Santa Clara County
Area gardeners, both "Master" and casual, share their wisdom and experiences with Eastside gardening and related topics here.
Call the Master Gardener Hotline at (408) 282-3105 with your gardening questions or check out our website at www.mastergardeners.org/scc.html.
Fall Tasks: 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 live over the winter 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, buddleia (butterfly bush) are among them. Create your own compost with healthy trimmings by alternating green cuttings with brown leaves or straw in a pile or a compost container. Free composting classes and low cost bins are available from the Master Composters who can be reached at (408) 918-4640.
Persimmons: Soon those beautiful orange fruits will start ripening. In addition to providing fruit, the persimmon tree is a nicely sized landscape tree that grows to about 25 feet tall and wide. The tree drops its leaves quickly in the fall for easy cleanup, allowing the sun to warm the garden and nearby walls during the winter months. Persimmons come in two types - astringent until soft (Hachiya type) or non-astringent when still crisp (Fuyu type). Both have their uses and provide great fall color with the fruit on bare trees as they ripen. The fruit must be cut off the tree as you will damage them if you pull. To learn more about the varieties, take a look at www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/persimmon.html, an excellent site from the California Rare Fruit Growers.
Time to Plan and Plant: Now is the time to look around your garden and think about replacing tired annuals, perennials and shrubs. If you have a place for a small meadow, seeding of native wildflowers can be done now. Poppies, clarkias, lupines, collinsias and more are easy from seeds that are available at local nurseries or online at www.larnerseeds.com. Planting just before the winter rains start can help perennial or shrub roots get well established before next summer's heat. By selecting plants that are native to areas of the world that have cool wet winters and warm dry summers, you can reduce the amount of watering needed during the dry summer months. Look for plants that are native to California, parts of Australia and South Africa, the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and Chile as these areas have the same climate as we do. Sunset's New Western Garden Book lists country of origin in each plant description.
Forcing Poinsettias to Bloom: If you saved your plant from last year's holiday season, you can force it to bloom again. Poinsettias bloom only when the hours of darkness are longer than those of light. The plant needs 9 to 10 hours of light and 14 to 15 hours of darkness. The room temperature should be about 65 degrees. It must be absolutely dark with no light at all, even for a moment. You can put the plant in a closet, a box with a tight fitting lid or a black plastic bag. Setting up a schedule will help you through this regimen. Cover the plant at 5 pm and uncover it at 7 or 8 am. Do this for about two weeks starting now. After the dark period, bring them out into the light and care for them normally.
Prechilling Tulip Bulbs: Ideally a tulip bulb needs a chilling time of 6 to 8 weeks. This gives them the necessary amount of dormancy required before spring growth. To prechill tulip bulbs, put them in the refrigerator (not freezer) for at least 6 weeks in mesh or paper bags. The bulbs need to breathe. Do not store them with apples as the ethylene gas emitted by apples will sprout the bulbs. Plant the bulbs as soon as you remove them from the refrigerator.
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When I first started out wanting to grow native plants in my home garden, I found it really frustrating. I was reading about these really interesting native plants for the garden, but my local nurseries had never heard of them. What good was it to learn about native plants if you couldn’t bring some home to plant?
Yes, the county parks are full of native plants, but it is against the law to collect plants or seeds from there – for good reason: back when it was legal, unscrupulous merchants had dug up so many native plants and bulbs en masse from the wild that their populations were nearly wiped out. Hence the laws.
I eventually found the right nurseries and plants, but only after a lot of searching. I often wondered how many people simply gave up in frustration.
Today it is a little bit easier to find and purchase native plants. More and more local nurseries are beginning to discover native plants, but even now, native plants and knowledgeable staff are the exception rather than the rule at most large nurseries. Your best bet is to find an independent nursery, and speak with the owner or knowledgeable staffer.
In time for this fall planting season, here is a list of my favorite sources of native plants for South Bay gardeners.
The best and oldest native nursery in the Bay Area is Yerba Buena Nursery of Woodside. Located in the hills above the town of Woodside, it is a 45-60 minute drive from most locations in the South Bay; the last two miles are on a dirt road off Skyline. It is well worth the trip because of their vast selection (over 600 species) and marvelous demonstration garden. Spread over 2.5 acres, the 25-year-old garden is breathtaking during spring. Go there to browse, to picnic, to get inspired. Yerba Buena Nursery, 19500 Skyline Blvd., Woodside. (650) 851-1668. www.yerbabuenanursery.com.
Just over the hill from San Jose is a full-featured nursery in Aptos. Native Revival Nursery is run by Erin O’Dougherty, a landscape designer. The selection of native plants is great, and there are small demonstration areas where you can see established plants. Native Revival Nursery, 2600 Mar Vista Drive, Aptos. (831) 684-1811, www.nativerevival.com.
If you are interested in native wildflowers and perennials, an easy and inexpensive way to start is from seed. Larner Seeds of Bolinas carries a wide selection of seeds. It also has an eclectic selection of books on native plants, the environment, and natural history. If you have the time, make the 2-hour trip to see their large demonstration garden, and perhaps attend a seminar with founder and author Judith Lowry. Larner Seeds, PO Box 407, Bolinas, CA 94924. (415) 868-9407. www.larnerseeds.com.
Payless Nursery, my neighborhood source, has a display area devoted to native plants and the selection is surprisingly diverse. Native plants in 4” pots from Annie’s Annuals are also available. Nursery staffer Wanda Olson is extremely knowledgeable about native plants in the garden, and what she doesn’t have, she is happy to order for you. For me, it is the most convenient place to shop, because I can go out, shop, and be back within 30 minutes. Payless Nursery, 2927 S King Rd., San Jose, CA 95122, (408) 274-7815.
If you can go a distance, I recommend a trip to Annie’s Annuals in Richmond, a nursery like no other. They not only wholesale their 4” pots to retail nurseries like Payless, they are also open for retail at their Richmond location. Here you can see why their plants are so healthy and strong: they grow out in the open, under the sky, perfectly acclimatized to the weather, and with extensive root systems. I’ve never had one fail on me. They have a great selection of native wildflowers, even some hard to find ones. And they have a large selection of plants suitable for our Mediterranean climate. Annie’s Annuals, 740 Market Ave., Richmond. (510) 215-1671. www.anniesannuals.com.
Aunt Gertie and Aunt Ruby were there. And so was the Golden Queen. The Earl of Edgecomb was there with the good doctors, Lyle and Neal. Also on hand on a late summer Saturday at Emma Prusch Farm Park were several hundred tomato and chili fanciers lined up in maze-like queues patiently moving from sample to sample tasting the results of local California Master Gardeners’ fruitful summer labors.
Bite-size chunks of tomatoes of many hues and textures drew a satisfied “yummy!” here and occasional surprised “so sweet!” there. Samples of tomatoes originally hailing from Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Croatia, Florida, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Moldova, Oregon, Russia, West Virginia and Wisconsin tantalized the love-apple lovers and cemented favorite flavors among the tasters. The colors filled the pink-red-orange-yellow-green side of the spectrum and a few were even ghostly white or purplish-black. The contours ranged from standard “tomato” shape (mostly hunking big fruit) to teensy-weensy marble, plum and grape shapes. Intriguing names included “Believe it or Not,” “Mortgage Lifter Bicolor” and “Karen’s Mystery.” “Stump of the World” would have taken the “homeliest name award” – if there was one!
There was a whole building of chilies to taste. The plates of cut up peppers were on tables on three sides of the room. Beginning at the right hand table, tasters worked their way through small morsels of varying “heat.” As one munched around the room, the heat went up and up until the last pepper on the farthest left hand table was a full scale “10.” Interspersed among the raw chilies were plates of chopped sautéed chilies freshly prepared in olive oil in skillets on outdoor grills. Even non-chili-eaters became fans after tasting the tender, warm, piquant result. Most of the servers, all men and women Master Gardeners, were gussied up in aprons or shirts featuring peppers and chilies. Who knew there were so many foody prints?
There were plants for sale and plants to win. There were cookbooks to buy. There was a goofy looking, tomato-suited man strolling among the guests. There were chickens scratching around among the feet of the visitors. And there was the 19th century ambience of wonderful Prusch Farm Park. The event was free (although the Master Gardeners welcome your financial support) and there was loads of up-close free parking.
Mark your calendar for next year’s late summer tasting event!
Click here for photos from this event.
Well, NNV hasn’t received any new information on plants which deer don’t devour, but we’d like to point out Mrs. Bumb’s system which allows her gorgeous flower garden to prosper – even in the thick of the deer horde which comes out of Alum Rock Park into the East Highlands neighborhood just about every day of the year.
Mrs. Bumb and her gardener have arranged a motion-triggered “water cannon” to deter the determined long-legged ungulates. They seem to detest the dousing and disdain this floral carpet. Of course, occasionally some bi-peds get a drenching, too, but the beauty of Mrs. Bumb’s garden is worth taking the chance.
Click here for a photo.
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“22,379 souls” were at rest at Calvary Cemetery as of September 9th when NNV took a tour of the grounds with Family Service General Manager Carlos Rascon. This silent community will be joined by thousands more over perhaps the next thirty-five or forty years before the cemetery can take no more, according to Carlos. Adding to the mystique of this small cemetery is the near impossibility of developing a mental picture of the earthly remains of twenty-two thousand of our dearly departed lying there.
Carlos showed and explained the rich variety of interment styles which makes up the complicated (and capacious) tapestry. The cemetery is divided into distinct sections and many of those sections have an ethnic character. There are areas where most of the deceased were of Portuguese origin; areas where most were Hispanic; areas where most were Irish. The common denominator is that all (with a few exceptions for special circumstances) were Roman Catholics. One consistency of style, aboveground crypts and mausoleums, is favored by the Portuguese. Visitors to the Alum Rock Avenue end of the cemetery can see early versions which look like small stone houses or chapels in the older section of the cemetery there. Some of them were created to hold an entire family of decedents. In the most recently developed end of the cemetery near the Manning Street end to the north, the crypts are in mausoleums which may hold five hundred in a very small space.
A burial plot is three feet by eight feet, according to Carlos. However, some plots are more than one coffin deep and a large marker might mark a complex nine-coffin arrangement. Urns holding the remains of those who have been cremated take up very little space, of course, and allow for many more family members to be put to rest close together.
There are some sections at Calvary which look to be sparsely inhabited and the headstones seem haphazardly arranged. One would suppose that there are many unused gravesites in those sections. On the contrary, says Carlos, there are many graves which have no marker and one vacant-appearing section is actually totally full. It isn’t unusual in the case of a child who has passed away, that the family can’t afford a marker. Other deceptive areas have no markers, but the burial plots belong to families which have purchased them for future use and there will be markers there by and by.
Besides the imposing crypts and mausoleums, there are upright headstones (old and new, plain and fancy), “ledgers” (large flat stones laid over a grave sometimes at an angle) and flush markers. Calvary’s areas of flush markers are humble looking, but Carlos points out, they’re the easiest to mow around and maintain. The cemetery has taken on the project of placing many rows of vertical headstones back-to-back on concrete foundation strips to stabilize the markers and to make maintenance simpler. This project has meant that half of the markers which all used to face south must now face north at the foot of the graves. Some families have objected to having their loved ones’ markers moved, but it’s extremely important to simplify maintenance – otherwise maintenance costs in the future will be prohibitively expensive and cemeteries could be abandoned.
One burial section not far from the Alum Rock Avenue entrance (which, by the way, was the main entrance for many, many years) is made up of large stone crypts bordered by stone “coping” with gravel in between. Not so many years ago, many of the cemetery sections were demarcated by this coping and, instead of gravel, there was just weed-prone soil. It is difficult to maintain the areas of coping and much of it has been removed. Except for this gravelly section, most of Calvary is now planted in luxuriant and well-maintained grass. Many beautiful young trees have been added to the venerable older ones.
Carlos mentioned some conundrums which face Calvary. They would like to replace the cinderblock wall which runs along Alum Rock Avenue with handsome new black wrought iron fencing like they’ve used on the other sides. “It would allow people to see into the cemetery without having their views blocked,” he explained. However, the City says that Calvary would have to provide an eight foot setback to any new installation. There are graves in those eight feet – so that’s not about to happen! It would seem the City could give Calvary a little “special dispensation” and allow the much better-looking wrought iron to frame the views of a very scenic and historic place.
The City and Calvary have found themselves at loggerheads over the street trees (sycamores) which the City has planted in planting pockets along the edge of Alum Rock Avenue outside the cemetery. They are too close to a row of large old olive trees inside the wall. The result is that the olive trees aren’t doing well and the sycamores are leaning out over the street trying to get out of the influence of the olives. The City deems the olive trees as “heritage” trees which can’t be removed. Oh, well. Carlos is happy, at least, that the City didn’t carry out its plan to use eminent domain on the corner lot which used to house a gas station and put an apartment building there. Now that corner is the site of beautiful religious statuary, fine plantings and Calvary’s new sign to come.
Carlos pointed out a new section of the cemetery which is being developed. It
will hold perhaps 800 grave sites. Four new five-hundred space mausoleums are
also planned. There is more land to be developed. Carlos thinks that new
technologies may allow cemeteries to miniaturize remains so that even small, old
cemeteries like Calvary might be able to accommodate many, many thousands
Click here for more photos of Calvary. Click on these links for Calvary Cemetery Part I, Part II and Part III.
|What happened to the little ornamental pear trees planted at the new Cruz-Alum Rock Library?|
|Is there any way the community can help prevent more vandalism around the new library?|
|What’s the big construction project going on at the corner of Story and Clayton Roads?|
|Is there a way I can print just one NNV story rather than printing a whole section?|
|When does NNV come out? Is there any rhyme or reason to the schedule?|
|Is it true that a rattlesnake bit the editor of NNV in September?|
A. Boy, we wish we could say that there was some reason for the snapped off trees (like a construction accident or something) but, actually, they were victims of mindless vandalism over the weekend of September 10th – 11th. Library Director Nora Conte says the City will replace them. Click here for a photo.
A. The library folks say it would be beneficial if the public would make a point of keeping their eyes open for vandals in the area. To report vandalism in progress, call 911.
A. NNV hears that it will be condominiums and that they will be “affordable.” Stay tuned and perhaps we can find out just what that means in dollar amounts.
A. Yes, just select (highlight) the story (or part of a story) you want to print and click on File and then Print on your Web Browser. Under “Print Range,” click on “Selection.” Then click on “Print” and just the text you selected should print. We avoid using frames on the NNV Web site so you can easily print articles without wasting a lot of paper.
A. NNV is generally dated the first Sunday of each month (except July and January, when we don’t publish a new edition). We usually put the new edition on our Web site the Friday before that first Sunday and send out the e-mails announcing the new edition to our subscribers on Saturday morning. For example, this edition is dated Sunday, October 2 and it first appeared on our Web site on Friday, September 30.
Occasionally, we play with this schedule a bit to avoid a holiday or to publish a new edition a week early or late for an important, timely story. For example, the September edition was on our Web site and the e-mails went out several days earlier than usual to get ahead of the long Labor Day weekend.
If you would like to send us an article or story for NNV, the deadline is usually about the 20th of the preceding month (e.g., the deadline for the November edition is about October 20). You can send us Letters to the Editor and Community Bulletin Board items anytime – these pages are updated throughout the month as new items come in. Please put Letter to the Editor or Bulletin Board Item in the Subject line and e-mail them to JudyET@NNVESJ.org.
A. No, but it was a close call! While gardening one morning and reaching into a stone planter for the end of the hose, your snake-averse editor suddenly heard an ominous rattling noise coming from the planter. Jumping back waaay further than she ever thought she could, she screamed, “Alllllllannnnnn! Rattlesnake! Come quick!!!!” Fortunately, Allan was just waiting to rescue a damsel in distress (yeah, right!) and he came running with a long-handled pruner and a shovel - skeptical though he was. He got convinced really fast as the snake continued its persistent rattling. Allan got a grip on it with the pruner and soon enough, it was on the driveway with its head whacked off by the shovel. Poor creature! Too bad there wasn’t a way we could get it out and move it without killing it.
How close was this to a run-to-the-emergency-room incident? Very, very. The planter is about 30” off the ground and is attached to the garage. The snake’s head was in close proximity to the end of the hose. Grasping that hose would have put your editor’s knuckles in the snake’s face. A bite would most probably have delayed production of this edition of NNV for who-knows-how-long. Thank heavens for that warning rattle, hey?
The snake was a young one, only about 16”-18” long – with three rattles. Since this experience, rattler stories have abounded. Neighbors had to kill a BIG one which liked to sun himself on their doorstep. Dog-owning friends warned that there are sometimes rattlesnakes in gopher holes which dogs like to investigate in wildland parks.
As rarely as we see rattlesnakes, we do need to be aware that they live here with us and it behooves us to keep our eyes and ears open. If you see one in the open, please don’t injure or kill it; they are valuable members of the animal kingdom – let them go on their way. If it’s an option, it’s best if they can be safely trapped and released far from people.
No, we didn't get any photos of this incident.
E-mail us at JudyET@NNVESJ.org 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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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 10/2/05.