New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 39 - Section 1

September 3, 2006

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos - More photos are in Section 2

New Alum Rock Village
Business Association logo


Do you Shop the Rock?
Please support our local businesses!

Cleaning up
the Village




Len and Julie


San Jose


James Lick


Steve Von Till,

New plan for


La Bodega -
A case of blight


Just one




At Vintage


Mindless Driver

Newsletter Headlines

bulletResponse to NNV’s November Departure - Outspoken … and Sympathetic - New ideas
bulletLet’s Find a Way to Communicate! Alum Rock E-List Serve? by Andrea Flores Shelton
bulletVillage Business Association Adopts Logo, Plans “Signature Event.” Clean Sidewalks?
bulletRezoning Tully Road in Reid-Hillview Approach Area? Wiser heads prevailed!
bulletNotable Neighbors: Len and Julie Ramirez live in - and support - our community
bulletUnderstanding Bird Flu - How to protect yourself and your family by Neena Kirschner
bulletState Approves $35.5 Million County Mental Health Plan from Supervisor Pete McHugh
bulletBallet San Jose shortens name ... adds dancers by Lee Kopp, Ballet San Jose
bulletJames Lick – Who was he? by Patricia Loomis
bulletLegal Eyes: Living Trusts - Don’t hold your breath in 2009 by Stephen F. Von Till
bulletNNV Briefs
bulletWho's Running for School Board Trustee Positions in ARUESD?
bulletDid You Mark Your Calendar for October 28th? Mark that Saturday with a big red circle
bulletMystery Cleared Up – Five New Stores for McKee/Vista (near Toyon) Corner
bulletOn Alum Rock Avenue - La Bodega = El Bodegón?
bulletEast Foothills Community Wildfire Protection Plan Update - You’re invited to participate
bulletSticky Situation Confronts Library Pigeons - Result: Clean sidewalk for library patrons
bulletUndergrounding of Utility Wires at C-ARL Will Happen
bulletRegional Medical Center Employee Honored For Volunteerism from Victoria Emmons
bulletRenaissance Academy Moves to Clyde Fischer Middle School
bulletVintage Rose Flea Market Enhances Farmers’ Market
bullet“Things We Wish We Had Said” Department - The real school test by Fred Tombor
bullet“Mindless Driver” Sighted, Cited - Neighbors expose speed demon nuisance
bulletYou’re invited to YSI's 21st Annual Wildlife Festival! Sunday, October 1st
bulletGroup Home for Developmentally Disabled in Hillcrest? Neighbors cite numerous concerns
bulletYou Want a Bigger Fair? Whatsamattayou? County Fair – 3 Days of Wholesome Fair Fare
bulletYou Dig It?
bulletSeptember Hot Topics by UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede
bulletSeasonal Color With California Bulbs - Used in Europe for a century by Arvind Kumar
bulletConfucius – A Dull Boy? Not anymore! Overfelt Gardens’ luminous symbol shines like new.
bulletFAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
bulletIs it true that NNV will stop publishing in November?
bulletIs it true that Alum Rock Stables is on the market? Could it be subdivided for homes?
bulletHas anyone ever heard what became of Christine Silva Burnett?
bulletWill people living in county pockets annexed into San Jose pay much higher taxes?
bulletCould the County’s proposed preservation law affect homes around Alum Rock Park?
bulletI’m looking for space to lease in the Village – do you know about the pink building?

Other Sections:  Letters to the Editor  Deer Resistant Plants  Community Bulletin Board  NNV Archives

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Response to NNV’s November Departure - Outspoken … and Sympathetic

New Eastside communication ideas brewing - please share yours

“No! No! No! - you can’t quit!” was the most frequent response to our announcement in last month’s newsletter that we would no longer publish New Neighborhood Voice after the November edition. Fortunately for us, virtually everyone avoided guilt-tripping us by going on to say or write, “But we understand completely.” We are gratified that our readers appreciate how time-consuming and challenging it has been for us to create NNV these last four years.

Many folks thought we should consider simply producing a less-ambitious newsletter. Or, doing only the on-line version – leaving just our hard-copy readers in the lurch. Some thought we should continue doing as we have been doing, but doing it less often. We had entertained ideas such as these for several months and decided that once we stopped publishing, that would be IT. And so it will be. There will be two more editions after this one. The October edition will be dated Sunday, October 8th and the November (final) edition will be Sunday, November 5th.

New Ideas for Communicating Post NNV?

There were several murmurings of possibilities for a new publication to take NNV’s place. Some people spoke of neighborhood committees which could spread out the work among many reporters, photographers, website folks, etc. Some people like Andrea Flores Shelton had a concrete “next step” ready to go. Please see her article below and give her your input. There is a possibility (but just a possibility at this point) that one neighbor might take upon himself something that would cover a good number of the niches NNV fills.

It’s been just a few weeks since we made our swan song announcement, so there’s still time for us to hope that more ideas will trickle (no, make that pour) in. Keep in mind, there will be just those two final NNV’s for us to introduce a successor publication to our subscribers and solicit their readership. Now’s the time to remove your collective thinking caps and put your ideas into action!

Click here to read more about our plans in last month’s edition.

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Let’s Find a Way to Communicate!

Create an Alum Rock E-List Serve?

By Andrea Flores Shelton

With the impending sad demise of New Neighborhood Voice in November, an important tool for communication will be lost, once again. So we don’t lose the connection made for those who have subscribed to the NNV e-newsletter, how many neighbors would be interested in joining a list serve where information, concerns or questions can be shared via email? This is different from a newsletter that comes to you over the web or in the mail. This would be emails, one at a time, or through a daily digest. The content could be along the lines of, “Anybody worried about the vandalism at Pala Middle and fire at Foothill HS?” or “Community Meeting about development on McKee Road Coming!” Really, we all depend on each other to know what is happening. The future of Alum Rock Village, housing and retail development, schools, parks, you name it, there is a lot happening and there won’t be an easy way to keep up-to-date, when NNV goes away in two months.

An e-list is a great place to communicate with lower maintenance than NNV. I do hope someone can carry the torch that Judy and Allan Thompson have held. NNV is such an impressive piece of work and so important to our community.

Please contact me if you are interested in joining a list serve where information, concerns, questions can be shared via email. I am not an expert in this but with a little research, I should be able to pull it off. Any help in making this quick and easy is appreciated. I am researching how the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association and Campus Community Association (Naglee Park) host their list serves, protocols, moderating, etc. Once I see if there is enough interest in pulling an Alum Rock e-list together, I will let you all know what is next.

Your neighbor on Keats Court,
Andrea Flores Shelton

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Village Business Association Adopts Logo

Plans underway for “Signature Event”

Clean Sidewalks for the Village?

Working with Paul Asper, the Redevelopment Agency’s graphic designer, the members of the Alum Rock Village Business Association (ARVA) have chosen a logo.

The design features the rolling east foothills which form the Village’s lush backdrop. The lettering font is jaunty in the association’s purple, green and orange color scheme. The member business owners hope the design, along with the association’s new “Shop the Rock” motto, will soon come to be readily identifiable in our community.

At their August meeting, about fifteen members discussed plans for a special event to welcome the community to become acquainted with Village shops. Watch for details of festivities being planned for the first week of December.

Click here for the logo and "Shop the Rock."

Clean Sidewalks for the Village?

Knowing that the sidewalks of the Village need a good cleaning, Eva Klinger of the San Jose Redevelopment Agency arranged for Universal Sweeping Services to come and meet with ARVA members one morning late in August. Universal’s David Sanchez and some ARVA members strolled along citing debris and stains which need removing.

ARVA President Lisa Regua (of Teezers Hair Salon) explained to David that the little business association has very limited funds to spend on power washing and sweeping so they want to arrange one thorough cleaning (as thorough as they can afford, actually) and then sort of wing it to see if they can afford follow-ups in the future. David and his boss, Universal president Gina Vella, who arrived mid-stroll, seemed happy to work with ARVA in the flexible manner necessary. Gina proudly explained that Universal Sweeping Services is a San Jose rooted company formed in 1958 by her dad and mom and it’s been in their family ever since. Her mom shops at Peters Bakery!

On the corner in front of Rafiki’s closed coffee shop, a man named Henry sells the Mercury News every morning to passersby. He noticed the little entourage and volunteered that he has been selling papers on that corner for five years or more and he also does what he can to keep things tidy. He personally wipes down the newspaper boxes where he stacks his Mercs, he says. He laments that the people who empty the waste can on that corner do a careless, slipshod job and leave it a mess. Henry himself picks up the overflow debris and puts it in the container, bless his heart.

If everyone cared as much as the Henrys and Lisa Reguas of this world, the Village would be tidy and welcoming. About all we shoppers can do is to set a good example for everyone by using the waste receptacles – and making a real point to “Shop the Rock” so that the little businesses can afford regular cleanings of our Village.

Click here for photos from our stroll.

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Rezoning Tully Road for Dealership in Reid-Hillview Approach Area?

Wiser heads prevailed – thank heavens! But for how long?

Beschoff Motors wanted to start up another auto dealership near Eastridge Mall – this one would be located in Reid-Hillview Airport’s 31R Approach Area along Tully Road on the same side of Tully as the World Savings building – which should never have been allowed to be built there, as it happens.

The City of San Jose loves car dealerships because they bring in oodles of tax revenue. So why not rezone that barren safety zone along the north edge of the mall parking area? After all, hardly ever do planes land in that little buffer!

At the City Council meeting on August 8th, a whole passel of citizens got up to speak pro and con about the zoning change. As readers might guess, all the airport folks and pilots in the area pointed out the dangerous folly of reducing the margin for error. Raymond Beschoff, himself, and John Peterson, the general manager of Eastridge, each got their two minutes to extol the economic virtues of more auto dealerships in the area. People who don’t like the airport encouraged the zoning change in hopes that one day the whole airport could be supplanted by retail and housing. People who thought that the City had given scant notice of the meeting and put up very small and inaccessible signs informing citizens of it, suggested that perhaps the City was trying to keep public input to a minimum. Altogether pretty much of the same old, same old.

Safety prevailed, however. The council voted 6 to 5 not to recommend rezoning. Old airport hands think this a temporary situation, however. Powerful landowners in the area want to build another mall on the airport land. County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado would like to see the airport closed to protect her constituents from noise and perceived danger. The City needs revenue. All these factors portend more challenges to the integrity of Reid-Hillview.

“The County needs to acquire the entire property, through eminent domain if necessary, and protect the safety zones around the airport. That’s the right thing to do!” opines Alan Craig, a neighbor who pilots a plane out of RHV. It wasn’t wasted on Alan that San Jose mayoral candidate, Councilmember Chuck Reed, voted to oppose rezoning. Chuck’s opponent in the upcoming election, Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez, was one of the five minority voters including Councilmembers Campos, Yeager, Williams, and Cortese who voted for rezoning.

Frank Sweeney, a longtime pilot, summarized the situation this way: The property proposed for rezoning is directly off the end of the east-side runway at Reid Hillview in an area designated as a safety zone by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Santa Clara County Airport Land use Commission. Click here for a photo. Aircraft have made emergency landings on this property in the past, with no injuries to the aircraft occupants or to people on the ground. If the San Jose City Council permits development of this property, an aircraft making an emergency landing could go down there with possible loss of life because the property [would no longer be] vacant. For public safety reasons, the property should remain clear of buildings and other obstructions. It currently is appropriately zoned agricultural, and should remain so. This is a terrible place to put anything but row crops or weeds. Developing commercial or industrial uses on the property is the equivalent of putting a Starbucks coffee shop in the median of Highway 101. Sooner or later, someone will hit it. There is a viable land use alternative to this unsafe proposal.

NNV Note: Frank’s “viable alternative” would have the County lease out its property where the annual Christmas tree sales tent is located every December (at the northwest corner of Capitol Expressway and Tully Road) and allow construction in that non-critical location.

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Notable Neighbors: Len and Julie Ramirez

Local Emmy-winning TV news reporter, wife, live in - and support - our community

Len Ramirez’ four year old son, Lucas, has a Superman suit. It wouldn’t be surprising if Len had one hanging in his closet, too. TV-personality-handsome Len and his beautiful wife, Julie, are both super heroes to their Fleming Avenue neighborhood and to our greater Alum Rock community as well.

It was hard to know what to expect of an interview with someone who is a professional communicator. Would CBS-Channel 5’s evening news reporter be glib and shallow in person? Would he be self-focused and disdainful of an interview with the editor of a small local newsletter? Readers will be happy to know that San Jose native (and James Lick High School grad) Len Ramirez is as genuine and deep as he is articulate and friendly. His roots are deep in Eastside soil and he’s proud of it!

Len’s beloved dad, also named Leonard, passed away in 1999, but not before instilling a well-developed commitment to community activism in Len. Leonard Ramirez arose from a Mexican immigrant farmworker family and attended San Jose State on the GI Bill following his military service. Latino college graduates were a rare commodity in those days and Len speaks proudly of his dad majoring in Administration of Justice and building a career in the juvenile justice system. Len also says that his dad, along with Cesar Chavez, “helped organize one of the first social services agencies on the Eastside called the Community Service Organization (CSO) through his contacts at San Jose State. One of the first things they did was get the mud streets paved and street lights installed in the neighborhood near Capitol Avenue and 680.” This was the neighborhood infamously nicknamed “Sal Si Puedes” (get out if you can) because of its miserable conditions.

Len and Julie have become household names in their neighborhood recently because they spearheaded the Fleming neighbors’ crusade to scale back a Braddock & Logan housing development on the site of The Lord’s Baptist Church in the 100 block of Fleming. With the guidance of Len and Julie at the helm of their excellent blog (, the neighbors were able to convince B & L and the City’s planning department to limit the number of houses to fourteen and add a small park to the project for the use of everyone in their park-deprived area. Although they weren’t able to snuff out the development in toto (as would have been many people’s dream conclusion) they felt their organized resistance won them some very significant points.

NNV was aware of the Ramirezes’ bold efforts on limiting the housing development, but we certainly didn’t know how extensively Len and Julie are involved in community life and what wonderful advocates they are for public education. We had supposed that a TV star wouldn’t find our local elementary school, Linda Vista, sufficiently fashionable for his children. However, not only do the Ramirezes’ two older children, Lenny (age 8) and Amanda (age 7) thrive at Linda Vista, but Julie is also an energetic volunteer and PTA mom there.

Both Julie and Len extol Linda Vista’s strengths. They take pride in pointing out that the school has earned the California Distinguished School honor and they like to recite its long list of special programs and events. When asked what message Len would like to convey to the readers of NNV, rather than pontificating on a “big picture” theme, he surprisingly said that he wished our community would get to know Linda Vista better and generally “take ownership” of our schools.

Len has often put his communications expertise to good use in Eastside high schools. He’s about to do it again at James Lick. Len majored in journalism at San Jose State and he has made a commitment to act as a mentor to students in Lick’s revived Communications Magnet program which is set to begin this fall. The school district is moving sophisticated equipment from Evergreen Valley High School to James Lick to help ensure that Lick will regain the luster it enjoyed when it hosted the program in past years. Len says that the program will include video and editing and will present a “huge area for growth.” He is part of a committee which is tapping local talents and resources to make the program fly.

Len and Julie are bi-lingual English/Spanish with Julie being the more fluent of the two, according to Len. Julie is also a graduate of San Jose State even though she’s a South Texas import. She says that she had to unlearn her Texas brand of Spanish and learn to speak Spanish the way it’s spoken here. Now, she says, her Texas family members think she talks funny! She used her bi-lingual talents to work with challenged students in a high school homework center program until she “retired” eight years ago to be a full time mom and community volunteer. Education is still of paramount importance to Julie – for their own three children and the children of the Eastside community.

This interview dispelled some negative perceptions about media luminaries and allowed us to become acquainted with yet another outstanding Alum Rock family. We have so many wonderful and caring folks making up our “village”!

Click here for a photo of Len and Julie.

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New Neighborhood Voice Founding Sponsors


Lifestyle Properties, Call Ellen Rauh at (408) 929-1925,
The REALTOR© You Choose Does Make a Difference, E-mail 


Caskey Country Club Properties, Call Larry and Barbara Caskey at (408) 926-5400


E.M.S. LLC, Environmental Management Systems, (408) 501-4200
A full service construction & demolition cleanup, hauling and recycling company


Eileen Parks, Windermere Silicon Valley Properties, (408) 251-5860
"When the follow through counts, call Eileen" - or e-mail 


Keith Bush, Artist/Sculptor, (408) 923-6666, 


MBA ARCHITECTS, Marvin Bamburg AIA, (408) 297-0288, 
Residential, commercial, industrial, historic preservation & mixed use projects; 


Mark DeTar, INTERO Real Estate Services, (408) 482-1727
Call or click today or e-mail  

And We'd Like to Welcome Our New 2005 and 2006 Sponsors


The Coffee Cup, Finest French Pastries, Country Club Plaza
Sun-Mon 6AM–2PM, Tue-Sat 6AM – 4PM, 3477 McKee Road, (408) 254-0755


Robin Edwards, Inc., Engineering Contractor, (408) 244-4791
CA Lic. 762792 A&B, "Basements, retaining walls, and complex foundations"


Regional Medical Center of San Jose, 
225 North Jackson Avenue, San Jose, CA 95116-1691, 1-888-RMC-8881, Dedicated To Your Well Being.


Gustavo Gonzalez ABR, Real Estate, Finance & Investments, (408) 646-1236
VALLEY VIEW PROPERTIES, 342 Valley View Avenue, Web Site, E-mail


ANTIPASTOS by DeRose, Gourmet Meat, Fish, Deli, Dine In or Out, (408) 251-5647
3454 McKee Road (at the corner of Kirk and McKee).  Long-time neighborhood favorite!


Lisa Blaylock, Coldwell Banker, 408-377-LISA (5472),,
Coldwell Banker’s TOP 100 Agents! Serving my clients since 1986. I grew up and live in the East Foothills!


Home Care Network, Inc., Home Care Professionals,
Low Cost In-Home Care. Call Sally Ryan, RN, MS, MBA at (408) 254-4650 or e-mail


ALUM ROCK VILLAGE Business Association, "Shop the Rock"
Conveniently located at Alum Rock Avenue and White Road in San Jose


Utopia Home Services, Quality On-Time Home Repair Services
Call Dave Leone at (408) 506-2297 or e-mail for quotes

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Understanding Bird Flu - Part 1 of 2

How to protect yourself and your family

By Neena Kirschner, Director of Infection Control, Regional Medical Center of San Jose

What is avian influenza (bird flu)?
Bird flu is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. These flu viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide carry the viruses in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from them. However, bird flu is very contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys, very sick and kill them.

Do bird flu viruses infect humans?
Bird flu viruses do not usually infect humans, but several cases of human infection with bird flu viruses have occurred since 1997.

How are bird flu viruses different from human flu viruses?
There are many different subtypes of Type A flu viruses. These subtypes differ because of certain proteins on the surface of the flu A virus (hemagglutinin [HA] and neuraminidase [NA] proteins). There are 16 different HA subtypes and 9 different NA subtypes of flu A viruses. Many different combinations of HA and NA proteins are possible. Each combination is a different subtype. All subtypes of flu A viruses can be found in birds. However, when we talk about “bird flu” viruses, we are referring to those flu A subtypes that continue to occur mainly in birds. They do not usually infect humans, even though we know they can do so. When we talk about “human flu viruses” we are referring to those subtypes that occur widely in humans. There are only three known subtypes of human flu viruses (H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2); it is likely that some genetic parts of current human flu A viruses came from birds originally. Flu A viruses are constantly changing, and they might adapt over time to infect and spread among humans.

What are the symptoms of bird flu in humans?
Symptoms of bird flu in humans have ranged from typical flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches) to eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases (such as acute respiratory distress), and other severe and life-threatening complications. The symptoms of bird flu may depend on which virus caused the infection.

How does bird flu spread?
Infected birds shed flu virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with contaminated excretions or surfaces that are contaminated with excretions. It is believed that most cases of bird flu infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces.

How is bird flu in humans treated?
Studies suggest that the prescription medicines approved for human flu viruses would work in preventing bird flu infection in humans. However, flu viruses can become resistant to these drugs, so these medications may not always work.

What is the risk to humans from bird flu?
The risk from bird flu is generally low to most people because the viruses occur mainly among birds and do not usually infect humans. However, during an outbreak of bird flu among poultry (domesticated chicken, ducks, turkeys), there is a possible risk to people who have contact with infected birds or surfaces that have been contaminated with excretions from infected birds. The current outbreak of avian influenza A (H5N1) among poultry in Asia (see below) is an example of a bird flu outbreak that has caused human infections and deaths. In such situations, people should avoid contact with infected birds or contaminated surfaces, and should be careful when handling and cooking poultry. For more information about avian influenza and food safety issues, visit the World Health Organization website.

What is an avian influenza A (H5N1) virus?
Influenza A (H5N1) virus – also called “H5N1 virus” – is an influenza A virus subtype that occurs mainly in birds. It was first isolated from birds (terns) in South Africa in 1961. Like all bird flu viruses, H5N1 virus circulates among birds worldwide, is very contagious among birds, and can be deadly.

What is the H5N1 bird flu that has recently been reported in Asia?
Outbreaks of influenza H5N1 occurred among poultry in eight countries in Asia (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam) during late 2003 and early 2004. At that time, more than 100 million birds in the affected countries either died from the disease or were killed in order to try to control the outbreak. By March 2004, the outbreak was reported to be under control.

Beginning in late June 2004, however, new deadly outbreaks of influenza H5N1 among poultry were reported by several countries in Asia (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia [first-time reports], Thailand, and Vietnam). It is believed that these outbreaks are ongoing. Human infections of influenza A (H5N1) have been reported in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

What is the risk to humans from the H5N1 virus in Asia?
The H5N1 virus does not usually infect humans. In 1997, however, the first case of spread from a bird to a human was seen during an outbreak of bird flu in poultry in Hong Kong. The virus caused severe respiratory illness in 18 people, 6 of whom died. Since that time, there have been other cases of H5N1 infection among humans. Most recently, human cases of H5N1 infection have occurred in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia during large H5N1 outbreaks in poultry. The death rate for these reported cases has been about 50 percent. Most of these cases occurred from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces; however, it is thought that a few cases of human-to-human spread of H5N1 have occurred.

So far, spread of H5N1 virus from person to person has been rare and spread has not continued beyond one person. However, because all influenza viruses have the ability to change, scientists are concerned that the H5N1 virus could one day be able to infect humans and spread easily from one person to another. Because these viruses do not commonly infect humans, there is little or no immune protection against them in the human population. If the H5N1 virus were able to infect people and spread easily from person to person, an “influenza pandemic” (worldwide outbreak of disease) could begin. No one can predict when a pandemic might occur. However, experts from around the world are watching the H5N1 situation in Asia very closely and are preparing for the possibility that the virus may begin to spread more easily and widely from person to person.

How is infection with H5N1 virus in humans treated?
The H5N1 virus currently infecting birds in Asia that has caused human illness and death is resistant to amantadine and rimantadine, two antiviral medications commonly used for influenza. Two other antiviral medications, oseltamavir and zanamavir, would probably work to treat flu caused by the H5N1 virus, though studies still need to be done to prove that they work.

Is there a vaccine to protect humans from H5N1 virus?
There currently is no vaccine to protect humans against the H5N1 virus that is being seen in Asia. However, vaccine development efforts are under way. Research studies to test a vaccine to protect humans against H5N1 virus began in April 2005. (Researchers are also working on a vaccine against H9N2, another bird flu virus subtype.) For more information about the H5N1 vaccine development process, visit the National Institutes of Health website.

What is the risk to people in the United States from the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in Asia?
The current risk to Americans from the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in Asia is low. The strain of H5N1 virus found in Asia has not been found in the United States. There have been no human cases of H5N1 flu in the United States. It is possible that travelers returning from affected countries in Asia could be infected. Since February 2004, medical and public health personnel have been watching closely to find any such cases.

What does CDC recommend regarding the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in Asia?
In February 2004, CDC provided U.S. health departments with recommendations for enhanced surveillance (“detection”) in the U.S. of avian influenza A (H5N1). Follow-up messages (Health Alert Network) were sent to the health departments on August 12, 2004, and February 4, 2005, both reminding health departments about how to detect (domestic surveillance), diagnose, and prevent the spread of avian influenza A (H5N1). It also recommended measures for laboratory testing for H5N1 virus. CDC currently advises that travelers to countries in Asia with known outbreaks of influenza A (H5N1) avoid poultry farms, contact with animals in live food markets, and any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from poultry or other animals.

Next month: What is the CDC doing to prepare for a possible H5N1 flu pandemic? And how you can stay flu free.

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State Approves $35.5 Million County Mental Health Plan

Youths, adults, seniors and families may all benefit

From Santa Clara County Supervisor Pete McHugh, District 3

The State has recently approved the County’s major three-year plan to expand mental health services for new and current consumers. The County’s plan follows State guidelines established under the State’s new Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) that voters approved as Proposition 63 in November 2004. State approval means that the County will receive approximately $35.5 million over the three-year period that started in July 2005. The County will use these funds to implement full service partnerships, improved service delivery systems, and greater outreach efforts.

The initial plan will focus on individuals with serious mental health problems in nine target groups. These groups include:

Children up to age five who are at risk of unhealthy emotional and behavioral development.

Youth in the juvenile justice or the foster care systems.

Young adults 16-25 years of age who are transitioning to independence from the juvenile justice or the foster care systems.

Adults 26-59 years of age who also experience chronic homelessness, substance abuse and repeated jail time.

Seniors whose mental health condition may be worsened by aging, self-neglect, substance abuse, physical decline or other life circumstances.

Full service partnerships provide comprehensive and integrated services that include housing, employment support, and mental health treatment. The three-year plan allocates almost $18.3 million to these partnerships. This level of funding will provide full-services to 30 youths under age 15, 30 young adults transitioning to independence, 253 adults and 25 seniors. These partnerships will spend almost 30 percent of their funding on housing.

The County plan also calls for spending $3.9 million of the $18.3 million on several specialized partnerships that serve all age groups. A housing partnership that includes the County's Office of Affordable Housing will address housing needs of the seriously mentally ill. A second partnership will provide improved access to ongoing primary health care for the seriously mentally ill who lack a primary care physician. A third one will ensure that all stakeholders have access to ongoing education on new mental health strategies, including efficient and superior access to education and employment opportunities for consumers. For the fourth partnership, the County will participate with other counties in an integrative Bay Area approach for those suffering from the complex circumstances associated with torture.

The MHSA challenges counties to transform mental health services so that they are easier to access, more effective and reduce the level of out-of-home and institutional care. Consumers and their family members should be at the center of the development, delivery, implementation, and evaluation of their treatment. Treatment of children and youth should focus on helping them become more resilient while adults should develop the skills and support systems for independent living. The County plan allocates $14.2 million to achieve these goals for mental health system redesign.

To improve access for un-served and underserved groups, the County plan spends $3.1 million on four strategies. For youths transitioning to independence, the County will establish a 24-hour youth drop-in center to provide crisis intervention and non-stigmatizing access. For adults, there will be a program to increase self-help resources and the involvement of family and friends. Seniors and their families will have a mobile assessment and outreach program to address their needs and a program of counseling support and education.

The full plan and various summaries are available on the Mental Health Department's website: I am proud of the County's tremendous planning process that incorporated the concerns and opinions of 10,000 individuals regarding service needs in the County. This exceptional effort makes me confident that the County will achieve Proposition 63's vision that with effective treatment and support, recovery from mental illness is achievable.

Pete McHugh
Supervisor, District Three
Santa Clara County

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Ballet San Jose Slims Down - Beefs Up

Company shortens name ... adds dancers

By Lee Kopp, Director, Marketing & Publicity, Ballet San Jose

Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley has officially shortened its name to Ballet San Jose. Artistic/Executive Director Dennis Nahat and the Ballet Board of Directors approved the name change at a recent Board meeting. "When we first took on our rather long name in the fall of 2000, Silicon Valley was more recognized nationally than was the city of San Jose," said Nahat. "But people today are increasingly aware that San Jose is the heart and center of 'Silicon Valley'. They 'know the way to San Jose' and we are proud to be a part of this thriving hub of art and technology. And by the way ... 'Ballet San Jose' fits rather nicely on the marquee."

In other Ballet San Jose news, Nahat has announced the signing of seven new dancers to contracts. Ms. Yui Yonezawa and Ms. Akua Parker will become Company Members when rehearsals begin in the fall. Ms. Amy Marie Briones, Mr. Jeremy Kovitch and Ms. Mallory Welsh are new apprentices; and Ms. Sarah Stein (a San Josean), Ms. Shannon Bynum (both of Ballet San Jose School) will be new trainees.

Exciting New Company Members
Ms. Yui Yonezawa was the winner of the Senior Woman's Bronze Medal at the VIII USA International Ballet Competition (IBC) this June in Jackson Mississippi. Her presentation with Russian partner Georgi Smilevksi of Ben Lida's "September" won wave reviews. Ms. Yonezawa, 19 years old, was born in Tokyo, Japan. Her training was at Tsukamoto Ballet Studios. Honors include the Bronze medal in the Japan International Ballet Competition, 2005 and the Gold Medal, Varna International Ballet Competition, 2004. She was previously a soloist with Tsukamoto Yoko Ballet Company. The USA IBC is held every four years in Jackson, Mississippi. It is a 2-week, 3-round "Olympic style" competition. This year 99 dancers from 24 countries competed out of hundreds of applicants.

Ms. Akua Parker, 27, from Kinston, North Carolina, previously danced with Cincinnati Ballet (2005-06) and was a lead dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem (2000-04). Her professional training was with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Academy of the Dance, Wilmington, DE.

Eastside neighbor Dennis Nahat is still planning on adding additional dancers later this summer. Ballet San Jose currently has 31 company members, 5 apprentices and 2 trainees under contract. The 2006-07 season begins November 16, with a new mounting of GISELLE, and runs through April 29. The complete season includes 4 mainstage productions and THE NUTCRACKER performed at San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, with an added children's program in May presented at the California Theatre. For details visit

Click here for photos of Yui Yonezawa and Akua Parker.

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Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
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Copyright© 2006 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 9/1/06.

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