PIC: Downtown Concord on a Rainy Day

November 20, 2014 15:16 pm · 29 comments

chris price

Thanks to Chris Price for this beautiful picture of downtown Concord.

You can click on the picture for a much larger view.



Originally from Wisconsin, artist Carol Husslein moved to Walnut Creek in 2002. She picked up her first brush and started painting shortly after retiring from her job as a project manager for AT&T in 2007.

“I always wanted to create art when I was younger, however my parents didn’t really approve of it as a career opportunity. So I dabbled and crafted, even took on some small commissions, but I always really wanted to paint. Watercolor is now my favorite medium because of its luminosity. It’s really exciting to see a painting come alive – watercolor practically paints itself. Plus it’s easy to use (and odor-free!) and you don’t need much to create a beautiful painting with simple, fresh color.”



Three Alamo middle school students are in the hospital this afternoon after a hazardous materials scare in a science class, according to school district officials.

Hazardous materials crews were called to Stone Valley Middle School at 3001 Miranda Ave. around 11 a.m. after several students in a forensic science class reported not feeling well, San Ramon Valley Unified School District spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich said.

The class was evacuated and three students were sent to hospitals “as a precaution,” Graswich said.

“Whenever it’s a science class, the fire district treats it as a hazmat incident,” Graswich said.

Fire and hazardous materials crews did not find any hazardous materials in the classroom and all of the students involved were wearing protective gloves and goggles, the spokeswoman said.




A street sweeper struck a mini-van at the intersection of Oak Grove Rd. & Ygnacio in Walnut Creek this morning.

No major injuries were reported, and the cause is still under investigation.

Thanks to “RZ” for the pictures.


The “Water Cooler” is a feature on Claycord.com where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it!

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon!

Today’s question:

Do you think it’s ok to put Christmas lights up before Thanksgiving?

Talk about it….



A Concord man who was apparently not wearing his seatbelt was killed while a pregnant woman survived a two-car crash on Interstate Highway 680 in Pleasant Hill on Wednesday evening, a California Highway Patrol officer said today.

The man killed in the collision has been identified as 55-year-old Manuel Keith Quintero, a Contra Costa County coroner’s deputy said.

A preliminary investigation shows that the crash occurred a short time before 7 p.m. as Quintero was driving an Oldsmobile Alero behind a young pregnant woman driving a Ford Escape SUV on the Monument Boulevard off-ramp from northbound Highway 680, CHP Officer John Fransen said.

Fransen said the SUV driver apparently stopped her car for traffic ahead of her and Quintero, unable to stop in time, collided with her car. The force of the crash sent Quintero’s car through some bushes and into a pole and the SUV struck another pole, Fransen said.

When emergency responders arrived on scene, Quintero was outside of his car and unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The woman involved in the crash, who was wearing her seatbelt at the time, was taken to a hospital with minor to moderate injuries, Fransen said.

The officer said the preliminary investigation indicates that Quintero wasn’t wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash.

The death came a little over 24 hours after another crash victim not wearing a seatbelt was killed on Interstate Highway 680 near Martinez, Fransen said.

There have been four traffic collision deaths involving drivers or passengers not wearing seatbelts in Contra Costa County in the past several months, the officer said.

“We’re really encouraging people to please wear their seatbelts,” he said. “We will continue to enforce seatbelt laws, especially during the maximum enforcement period around the Thanksgiving holiday.”

Drugs and alcohol do not appear to have been a factor in the collision, which remains under investigation.

photo credit: Craig Cannon – for use only on Claycord.com


From April through October, Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) customers used 25 percent less water than their historical average.

The following information is from CCWD:

This remains well above the 15 percent target the District asked its customers to aim for, and is one percent higher than a month ago. Water use is compared to the District’s historic average from 2005-2007.

In October, temperatures did not climb excessively high, and we also had some rain during the month that curbed demand for water in yards. Of course, our customers are continuing to do their part. We’ve seen a number of people within the District begin the process of converting their lawns to gardens. Even shopping centers, look for the signs. We have a very complete guide to doing this job and earning a rebate.

Please keep up the good work. In these fall days, water conservation is as important as ever. Look here for all of our water conservation programs and tips.

If you see water waste, such as the prohibited activities listed below, let us know right away.

  • watering between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • causing excessive flooding or runoff
  • washing a vehicle without a shutoff nozzle
  • using a hose to wash hard surfaces
  • operating a non-re circulating decorative fountain.

What do people report? Generally, we see reports of lawn sprinklers running too long and sending water cascading down the gutter. We also have reports of broken sprinkler heads that are spraying the streets and sidewalks. there are also areas that have been over-watered and are now “swampy.” We’ve seen reports of faucets in public bathrooms that don’t turn off or neighbors watering their lawns during the middle of the day. Sometimes when people don’t know the address of a water waster they are telling us about, they say something like: “Drive down the street, it’s the house with the very green lawn.”

We contact the water wasters, and in most cases they take care of the problem pretty quickly. We’ve fielded more than 500 reports of water waste since April.


A former San Francisco police officer told a federal jury of several incidents in 2009 in which he alleged two other officers joined him in stealing cash during searches and sharing the proceeds.

“Mr. Robles kind of bumped my leg under the table and gave cash to me” in a café after one of the searches, former officer Reynaldo Vargas testified at the other men’s trial in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

“Then I saw he did the same thing with Mr. Furminger. In the act of doing it under the table, we were trying to be discreet about it,” Vargas continued.

Vargas, 46, of Palm Desert, has been the chief prosecution witness against Officer Edmond Robles, 47, of Danville, and Sgt. Ian Furminger, 47, of Pleasant Hill.

The two men are on trial in the court of U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer on charges including conspiracy to commit theft, theft, conspiracy to violate civil rights and conspiracy to distribute drugs.

Vargas testified the under-the-table incident happened when he, Robles and Furminger were sitting at a Mission District café in San Francisco after a search of the residential hotel room of a suspected methamphetamine dealer in 2009.

During the search, he said, Robles showed him a stack of bills “a couple of inches thick” after a fourth officer had left the room to take the handcuffed suspect to a police station.

Afterwards, Vargas, Furminger and Robles went to the café, according to Vargas, who said the share Robles allegedly handed him was about $2,000.

Vargas was charged in the same indictment as Robles and Furminger in February, but pleaded guilty to four counts on Oct. 21 and agreed to testify against his former colleagues. He began on the witness stand Monday afternoon and completed his testimony on Wednesday.

Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney John Hemann, Vargas outlined five incidents in San Francisco and Newark in 2009 in which he alleged that either Robles or both Robles and Furminger joined him in thefts.

The five events are listed as examples of thefts in the theft-conspiracy count of the indictment.

Vargas testified that in the Newark search, he, Robles and Furminger aided Drug Enforcement Administration agents in looking for contraband in the home of a man suspected of being a large-scale heroin dealer.

Vargas said he went alone to the backyard, where he found a shovel and started digging in the ground. He said he unearthed a cache of $30,000 and an ounce of heroin.

Vargas testified that in the car on the way back, he told Robles and Furminger, “Hey you guys, I found it,” and then split the money three ways.

In a search of a house on Potrero Hill, Vargas testified, Robles found some cash in the closet of the master bedroom.

Vargas told the jury that Robles put the cash on the bed, and then motioned Vargas out of the room and shut the door.

“At that point I was acting as the lookout,” he said. When Robles opened the door a few seconds later, the cash was gone, Vargas testified.

Afterwards, the two men drove to a small side alley behind a police station and sat in the car, Vargas said.

“Mr. Robles reached into his pocket and pulled out the wad of cash, of which he gave me half,” Vargas testified. He said the amount he received was about $1,000.

During cross-examination, Furminger’s defense lawyer, Brian Getz, questioned Vargas about whether he was seeking to tailor his testimony to please prosecutors in hopes of getting a lenient sentence.

“Do you have an incentive to track the government’s narrative? ” Getz asked.

“I believe my motive is to be as truthful as possible,” Vargas responded.

Vargas, who joined the Police Department in 1999, was fired in 2012 for falsifying timecards. Furminger and Robles were suspended without pay after being indicted.

The trial resumes on Monday. Prosecutors told Breyer they expect to complete their side of the case by noon on Monday, after which the defense will begin presenting witnesses. The defense attorneys have not announced whether the two officers will testify.

The case is expected to go to the jury in early or mid-December. Furminger and Robles are both charged with eight counts. The charges include conspiracy to commit theft from a federally funded program – the Police Department – in 2009 and 2010 and theft of more than $5,000 worth of property from such a program.

Other counts are conspiracy against civil rights; two counts of depriving the citizens of San Francisco of their honest services between 2008 and 2012; two counts of wire fraud; and conspiracy to distribute drugs between 2009 and 2011.

Furminger alone is accused of a ninth count of extorting property in 2011 and 2012.

Vargas pleaded guilty before Breyer to charges of conspiracy to distribute drugs, distribution of marijuana, conspiracy to commit theft, and theft. His sentencing date has not been set.



Like unwanted house guests who overstay their welcome, old refrigerators can get in the way and drain your resources.

Fortunately, they are easy to get rid of, thanks to a special Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) program that offers customers a $50 rebate to retire their aging refrigerator responsibly. It takes just one simple step to schedule an appliance pickup by PG&E’s licensed recycler, JACO Environmental.

In addition, PG&E offers customers a $75 incentive to replace their clunker with an energy-saving new refrigerator that will lower their bills for years to come. The rebate is available on high-efficiency models that use at least 20 percent less energy than the new federal standard—less even than a 60 W light bulb.

An efficient new refrigerator can lower electric bills by nearly $100 a year compared to the average 15-year-old model it replaces, and almost $200 compared to a unit 25 years or older.

“More than 60 million refrigerators are over 10 years old, costing consumers $4.7 billion a year in energy costs,” according to the federal Energy Star program. “If all refrigerators sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR® certified, the energy cost savings would grow to more than $400 million each year and 8 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented, equivalent to the emissions from 750,000 vehicles.”

Properly recycling old refrigerators offers many other environmental benefits as well. Recycling 25,000 refrigerators can collect as much aluminum as used in 2.1 million cans; provide raw materials for concrete, nails and even computers; and remove 250,000 pounds of foam insulation from landfills. Recycling also prevents hazardous oils, toxins, and ozone-depleting gases from escaping into the environment.

“Now is a great time for customers to take advantage of savings from PG&E to replace their older, energy-hungry refrigerator,” said Vincent Davis, senior director for energy efficiency at PG&E. “November 15 is America Recycles Day, but every day is a good time to look at ways to reduce your energy use and bills while helping the environment.”

PG&E also offers a few tips for saving energy with your refrigerator:

  • Keep the condenser coils clean so they can expel heat to the outside air as efficiently as possible.
  • Open your refrigerator doors only when you really need to.
  • Keep your refrigerator full. If you have two at home, try to consolidate the contents and recycle the less efficient unit.
  • Keep your refrigerator away from sources of heat, including direct sunlight, so it doesn’t have to work as hard.
  • Make sure your refrigerator has a tight seal. Close the door over a piece of paper; if you can pull the paper out, the seal may need replacing.
    Learn more

To recycle your refrigerator and schedule a pickup, go to www.ApplianceRecycling.com/PGE or call 1-800-299-7573.

To learn more about rebates on high-efficiency refrigerators, call PG&E’s Smarter Energy Line at 1-800-933-9555 to talk with an energy-efficiency advisor, or email smarter-energy@pge.com.


One person was in critical condition this evening after sustaining major burns in a Pleasant Hill home, according to Contra Costa Fire Protection District fire officials.

The burn injury was reported around 5 p.m. off of Cleaveland Road near Gregory Lane, according to Fire Marshal Robert Marshall.

One person was transported in critical condition to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek and then transferred to University of California at Davis Medical Center.

While officials are not releasing information on the nature of the incident, Marshall said the fire that caused the burn did not involve a structure.



Walnut Creek – Report by Ryan Panlilio:

One person was taken to the hospital after a single car accident near the corner of N. Main Street and Geary Road in Walnut Creek on Wednesday night.

According to Contra Costa Fire District Battalion Chief Jim Howard, an ambulance happened upon the accident in front of the Burger King around 7:50 p.m. Wednesday. The driver’s side of the black Mercedes Benz E-class struck a tree on the sidewalk in front of the fastfood restaurant. Howard said the driver, who was extricated using the Jaws of Life, suffered moderate injuries.

The accident shut down southbound N. Main Street at Geary Road for more than an hour while crews worked to remove the vehicle.

photo credit: Ryan Panlilio, freelancer and former Monterey Herald News staffer




All lanes on the Monument Boulevard off-ramp from southbound I-680 in Pleasant Hill have reopened this evening following a fatal collision, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A Ford Escape and a white four-door Alero collided on the freeway shortly before 7 p.m. and the force of the impact caused both to land on the off-ramp, according to CHP officials.

The male driver of the Alero sustained fatal injuries in the crash, and two other moderate injuries were reported, according to the CHP.

The off-ramp reopened shortly after 9 p.m.

photo credit: Craig Cannon – for use only on Claycord.com




ConFire is responding to an injury collision on N. Main St. & Geary.

At least one person needs to be extricated.

No other information is available at this time.

Please drive carefully if you’re in the area.



One person is dead after a crash on southbound I-680 on the Monument Blvd. off-ramp in Pleasant Hill, according to the CHP.

The crash involved a Ford Escape and a white Oldsmobile Alero. The male driver of the Alero is the one who was killed.

One lane of the off-ramp has been closed.

Please use caution if you’re in the area.

photo credit: ConFire on Twitter @ContraCostaFire


Interstate Highway 680 has fully reopened in Walnut Creek this afternoon after a 10-car crash sent five people to hospitals and blocked northbound lanes, a California Highway Patrol officer said.

Northbound Highway 680 at Ygnacio Valley Road was cleared around 4:05 p.m., CHP Officer John Fransen said.

The crash happened around 3 p.m. on northbound Highway 680 at the Ygnacio Valley Road exit and involved 10 vehicles, reportedly trapping one person inside, according to the CHP.

Fransen said five people were injured in the collision but he did not know the extent of their injuries.

The crash shut down four northbound lanes and snarled traffic in the area.

Investigators do not believe that drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash but said that wet roadways may have been a factor, according to Fransen.

“We ask that motorists exercise due caution, slow down a bit and make sure they have a good space cushion between them and the person in front of them,” he said.


Light amounts of rain are expected to fall intermittently throughout the Bay Area from today through Saturday, a National Weather Service forecaster said.

The rain came in around 4 a.m. today in the North Bay and slowly worked its way down south, forecaster Steve Anderson said.

Today’s system will continue through this afternoon, followed by another one Thursday morning and a final one starting midday Friday into Saturday afternoon, Anderson said.

The rainfall trickled its way from the Gulf of Alaska, according to Anderson.

The North Bay is expected to have 1 to 2 inches of rainfall while the rest of the Bay Area will receive about a quarter to three-quarters of an inch from today until Saturday, he said.

Overnight lows will be in the 40s and 50s, which are typical temperatures for this time of year, Anderson said.

The highs in the Bay Area ranged in the low to mid-60s today.

The current system will result in breezy conditions at times, he said.

Motorists are advised to exercise caution on the slick roadways and to allow extra time for their commute, Anderson said.

As of today, dry weather is forecast for Thanksgiving Day, he said.


A multi-car crash on Interstate Highway 680 in Walnut Creek this afternoon has reportedly left several people injured and has northbound lanes blocked, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The crash happened on northbound Highway 680 at the Ygnacio Valley Road exit and reportedly involved as many as 10 vehicles, according to the CHP.

One of the cars involved in the crash overturned, reportedly trapping one person inside, CHP officials said.

According to the CHP, five people were reportedly injured in the multi-car crash, which has shut down the four left northbound lanes and prompted the agency to issue a Sig-alert.

CHP officials did not immediately provide an estimate for when the lanes might reopen.




A vehicle crashed into Noah’s Bagels on Mt. Diablo Blvd. in Walnut Creek this afternoon.

Fortunately, no major injuries were reported.

At this time, it is unknown what caused the driver to crash the vehicle into the building.

Thanks to Tomm Heath for the pictures!

UPDATE: Here’s one more picture (thanks to Cathy).