Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - December 30, 2011

Looking back at 2011

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

At this time of year we are all wondering: Where has the year gone? Take a look at some of the news covered by the Pleasanton Weekly in 2011 and you will see that the last 12 months were full of newsworthy events.

From little Brandon Lin born 7 minutes after midnight on Jan. 1 to the revelries and nostalgic get-togethers tomorrow night, 2011 has been a full year, with events that were fun, interesting and significant to our city.


* Brandon Lin, son of Su-Lyn and Peter Lin of San Ramon, is the first baby born in 2011 at ValleyCare Medical Center Saturday morning, arriving at 7 minutes after midnight, Jan. 1.

* World Walk to Wellness holds festival to encourage people to stay healthy by taking daily walks to boost their New Year's resolutions to get more exercise. The group aims to hold monthly walks with leaders.

* Mayor Jennifer Hosterman attends 79th winter meeting of U.S. Conference of Mayors, meeting with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

* Mothers with a Purpose, a newly formed support group, organizes in Pleasanton for parents dealing with drug-addicted children.

* Trial begins for Ernie Scherer III in the double slayings of his parents, Ernie Scherer Jr., 60, and Charlene Abendroth, 57.

* The Pleasanton Weekly is named the winner of this year's "Business Philanthropy Award" by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce.

* Rapid starts a $14 million bus service from the new West Pleasanton/Dublin BART station to Sandia and Livermore national laboratories in East Livermore with stops along the way.

* The founder of Tri-Valley University, Susan Xiao-Ping Su, who owns two homes in Pleasanton, is charged with money laundering, mail fraud and wire fraud.


* Mayor Jennifer Hosterman says at the annual State of the City address that with sales tax revenue inching up and new businesses opening or expanding, Pleasanton is in a strong financial position.

* Judge dismisses Jennifer and Fredric Lin lawsuit against Pleasanton to build 51 houses on 600 acres in the southeast hills.

* Amador Valley High School captures first place in the statewide "We the People" competition. It goes on to Washington, D.C., to place second in the nation.

* West Pleasanton/Dublin BART station opens with great fanfare on a rainy Saturday.

* East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) holds informational meeting in Pleasanton about changes recommended for Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreational Area, including eliminating the waterslides.

* City Council OKs land use changes in Hacienda Business Park that will allow for construction of a high density, 840-unit housing project with half the units to serve those with low-to-moderate incomes.

* New Safeway Lifestyle store at Valley and Bernal near I-680 breaks ground, pledging to be open by Thanksgiving.

* Due to grim financial prognosis, school district staff suggests cutting summer school remedial programs, teacher training and adult education, as well as a health services liaison position.

* Borders announces bankruptcy and the closure of its Pleasanton and San Ramon stores.

* Union marks one-year anniversary of Castlewood Country Club locked out workers with a protest march that halts cars for half a mile.


* City Council ratifies EBRPD Master Plan to run the Iron Horse Trial through Hacienda Business Park, closing the missing gap in the 28-mile trail that mainly follows the old Southern Pacific Railway right of way.

* Pleasanton school board votes to send layoff notices to more than 62 employees, while hoping private fundraising, the passage of a parcel tax or a state tax extension may save them.

* Pleasanton Weekly disburses $147,000 raised in its 2010 Holiday Fund campaign to five nonprofit organizations.

* Jury receives its final instructions in the murder trial of Ernie Scherer III, then takes less than 11 hours to find Scherer guilty on two charges of murder for financial gain. He is later sentenced to serve two consecutive life sentences.

* Bob Cordtz, a regular at City Council meetings, producer of, a 2000 mayoral candidate, and owner of a downtown B&B, dies at age 85.

* Jennifer and Fredric Lin offer new plan for the land in the southeast hills: subdividing the 526 acres into 10 residential, ranch-type lots.

* Army Specialist Jameson Lindskog, 23, of Pleasanton is killed in an apparent roadside bomb explosion near Kabul, Afghanistan.


* Measure E ballots are mailed to homes in the Pleasanton Unified School District, proposing a $98 a year parcel tax. The district is faced with a budget deficit of $7.7 million for the 2011-12 school year.

* The U.S. Army Reserve and SunCal sign a property exchange agreement to allow new military facilities at Camp Parks Reserve Forces Training Area in exchange for 180 acres to be developed into a Dublin master-planned community.

* Valley Humane Society in Pleasanton offers lodgings for some of 10 mixed breed dogs removed from a home of animal hoarders in the Sacramento area and helps with their removal.

* Christopher Michael Carroll, 36, the Manteca man who sped up to 100 mph on the freeway with his wife on the hood and finally stopped in Pleasanton, is found mentally competent to stand trial.

* Alex Chin, a sixth-grader at Pleasanton Middle School, hits his second hole-in-one at Las Positas Golf Course.

* Pleasanton Weekly is recognized by the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA), winning second place in the Public Service category among all state weekly newspapers in its circulation category for its 2010 Holiday Fund campaign and the series of stories that supported it.


* Pleasanton teen improv troupe, Creatures of Impulse, is invited to perform in Teen Comedy Festival in Chicago

* Parcel tax Measure E is defeated, receiving 65.16% of the 20,620 votes, just missing the two-thirds needed.

* David Spiller, 43, is sworn in as Pleasanton police chief.

* Christopher Michael Carroll, 36, will spend the next five years in state prison after admitting guilt in a negotiated plea deal to domestic violence Feb. 25 that led to his wild drive on the freeway with his wife on the hood.

* Pleasanton Unified School District board endorses legislation to eliminate parcel tax measures requiring a two-thirds majority.

* Pleasanton passes two-year budget that holds the line on hiring, wages and major projects


* France honors Pleasanton's Robert L. Vannatter, 90, for his part in its liberation during World War II.

* Las Positas College names Kevin Walthers, formerly vice chancellor of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System, as its new president after a year-long search.

* Alameda County Fair, a Pleasanton tradition since 1912, opens June 22 to run through July 10 with plans to grill a 777-pound hamburger, the largest ever.

* Pleasanton Unified School District OKs budget without final state figures, with $3.5 million in cuts to programs and services; $1.7 million in concessions negotiated with the district's two unions; and $5.3 million in reserves, including one-time state and federal funds.

* Twenty-three people protesting the ongoing lockout of Castlewood Country Club are arrested for blocking Castlewood Drive in what organizers describe as an act of civil disobedience.

* Alameda County Supervisors vote to proceed with boundary changes that would place Pleasanton in District 4, which is represented by Supervisor Nate Miley, rather than Scott Haggerty's District 1.


* Alameda County Fair breaks attendance records with a total of 452,746 fairgoers, up 8% over last year, and well above the previous record of 434,919 in 2009.

* I-GATE opens its business hub in Livermore as part of a regional effort to help entrepreneurs and businesses develop clean energy and efficient transportation systems.

* After spending $2 million to fight a decade-long lawsuit by Signature Properties over the construction of the proposed Neal Elementary School, Pleasanton Unified School District ends up with $350,000.

* City OKs provisional plan to rezone 17 separate sites totaling 105 acres for more than 3,000 "affordable" high-density housing units.

* East Bay Regional Park District police recover about $1 million worth of marijuana plants growing in Las Trampas Regional Wilderness with an elaborate irrigation system tapping the park's water supply.

* Valley Humane Society, after just moving into new $1.3 million facility, announces it is out of money and may close within the next 30 days, due to a confluence of declining contributions and increased demand.

* Axis Community Health adds two pediatric examination rooms and more staff to increase its patient capacity.


* Valley Humane Society receives $175,000 in donations after announcing it needs $125,000 by the month's end. Community businesses launch fundraisers to keep open the nonprofit no-kill shelter.

* First Fast and Furious Fest is held on Main Street with bicycle races that include well-known pros cycling for an hour on a 1-mile route in a circle around town, a fundraiser for ALS.

* Steve Carlson, 43, is arrested in Santa Cruz, charged with the murder of 14-year-old Foothill High freshman Tina Faelz in 1984, when he was also a freshman.

* After three years of planning, City Council OKs a broad-based Climate Action Plan that could make Pleasanton "one of the greenest cities in California."

* Students in the Pleasanton school district score above both the state and county averages in STAR test scores released for the 2010-11 school year.

* Domus reopens its kitchen and home accessories store at 652 Main St., which had remained vacant since Domus left in July 2008.

* District Attorney Nancy O'Malley honors Mothers with a Purpose for its work in fighting prescription drug abuse.

* New Leaf Community Market from Santa Cruz announces plans to open a store with an emphasis on organics and sustainability in the long vacant Vintage Hills shopping center.

* Congregation Beth Emek names David Katz to serve as interim rabbi for two years as the board searches for a permanent rabbi.


* Ten-year anniversary memorials of Sept. 11 attacks are held at Fairgrounds and at Livermore-Pleasanton Fire District headquarters.

* Two teens are stabbed in altercation on First Street near Village High School; 16-year-old is arrested and to be tried as an adult.

* Bibiane Bakery closes on Main Street, ending a five-year run as a main attraction in Tully's Plaza.

* Mayor Jennifer Hosterman presents Mayor's Award to Bob and Joyce Shapiro for their longtime commitment to Pleasanton and its organizations.

* Pleasanton Unified School District Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi joins her counterparts in Alameda County to take a stand against the federal No Child Left Behind Act because of its one-size-fits-all approach.

* Pleasanton is named a top city in California in a ranking by the online review site, AreaVibes.

* Protestors wearing yellow badges ask City Council to keep Wal-Mart from opening one of its Neighborhood Market stores in the former Nob Hill supermarket, citing its low wages and lack of health care for employees.

* Mt. Diablo State Park police and Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office deputies raid marijuana growing operation on Mount Diablo, netting from $3 million-$5 million in plants.


* Pleasanton's oldest resident, Orville Nightingale, turns 107 and celebrates at Ridge View Commons.

* Ground is broken for Stoneridge Creek retirement community on the Staples Ranch property.

* Pleasanton Heritage Association gives its first Architectural Heritage Award for New Construction to Emil and Marjorie Oxsen for their home on Peters Avenue for being true to the historic character of the downtown district.

* After 10 years of moving from place to place, School of Imagination moves into its new 12,000-square-foot permanent facility in Dublin, which was custom-built by Discovery Homes.

* Councilman Jerry Thorne launches campaign to run for Pleasanton mayor in the 2012 election, with a breakfast at the Fairgrounds.

* Cynthia L. Bryant, Pleasanton Poet Laureate from 2005-07, is appointed to the position again, succeeding Deborah Grossman, whose two-year term has ended.

* Cheryl Cook-Kallio throws her hat in the ring to run for mayor in 2012.


* Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-18th) is charged with grand theft for allegedly leaving Union Square's Neimann Marcus with $2,445 worth of merchandise.

* Safeway opens new Lifestyle supermarket on Bernal and Valley Avenue, the second Safeway in Pleasanton.

* Crystal Bell is installed at Firehouse Arts Center on Railroad Avenue to represent the historic fire bell that once served at the old Fire Station No. 1.

* City Council OKs 21,000-square-foot Alzheimer care facility on a 1.7-acre site on Sunol Boulevard.

* Tri-Valley YMCA moves from Pleasanton office on First Street to spacious new facilities in Dublin and plans to offer classes and services at both places.

* Pleasanton Weekly launches 2011 Holiday Fund to benefit nonprofit groups in the community.


* Hometown Holiday Celebration on Dec. 3 draws a record number of 2,500 entries and 25,000 fans.

* Pleasanton Public Library completes installation of new lighting program that saves 46% in energy usage.

* Tri-Valley Community Foundation presents Pleasanton Weekly with its "Community Champion" award for its annual Holiday Fund program that raises money for local nonprofit organizations.

* Mayor Jennifer Hosterman sidesteps concern over appointing a possible mayoral candidate to the post of vice mayor for 2012 by agreeing with Councilman Jerry Thorne's suggestion to rotate the post on a quarterly basis. Councilwoman Cindy McGovern opts out of the rotation.

* School Board Member Joan Laursen is named president of the board for 2012, in a 3-2 vote by the trustees. Jeff Bowser is voted clerk of the board, a position that usually leads to the presidency.


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