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Your hometown weekly newspaper

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  • Natio

    nalAwardWinning Newspapers

    Visit Your Hometown Website www.thepress.net

    Vol. 11, No. 45 YOUR HOMETOWN WEEKLY NEWSPAPER November 11, 2011

    FOR MOVIE TIMES

    SEE PAGE 5A

    Venerating our veterans

    We dedicate this day to those who dedicate themselves every day to protect our freedom. Page 1B

    Arts .....................................10ABusiness .............................16ACalendar ............................ 15BClassifieds ........................... 8BCop Logs ............................ 14BEast County Life ................ 1BFood ...................................... 4BMilestones ........................ 13BOpinion ..............................18AOutdoors .............................6ASports .................................21A

    Fire tax explained The fire district will begin informing residents about a new tax it needs voters to approve in June. Page 3A

    The joy ofjet propulsion

    An Oakley jetskier grabbed serious air and a serious trophy at a recent world championship. Page 25A

    Buffalo gets new home to roam

    Driving through the back roads of East County, passersby often see an array of farm animals, from cows and horses to chickens and goats. If you happened to be driving along Byron Highway last Thursday afternoon, chances are you passed a buffalo and didnt even know it.

    Its OK. She didnt see you, either.

    It took months of planning, but orphaned buffalo Nakoma fi -nally made it to her new home in Byron after being abandoned at a ranch in Bethel Island earlier this year. Members of the UC Davis Large Animal Clinic were called to sedate the 800-pound beast for transport, and when she awoke, she was greeted by the smiling face of her rescuer and new owner, Charles Ward.

    We knew going into the res-

    cue that there were risks, Ward said. But the poor thing was all alone out there. Luckily the story has a happy ending and now shes doing great. As soon as she saw me Thursday night as she was coming out of it, she sat right up. Shes still getting acclimated to her new sur-roundings, but she seems to be hav-

    ing fun walking around the ranch, investigating the property.

    Ward has kept buffalo on his ranch for years, so when a family friend discovered an abandoned buffalo at a foreclosed ranch in Bethel Island, she called Ward and asked if hed be interested in bring-ing the buffalo to his ranch. The

    buffalo was one of three, but since the original owners abandoned the bison without warning, two died of starvation before a neighbor found the remaining buffalo roaming the back of the property.

    Ward went out to meet the buffalo and began to visit her dai-ly, eventually feeding her apples by hand, and the two formed a bond. She was nothing but a bag of bones, Ward said. I couldnt leave her out there to suffer, so I started the process of going through the proper channels to get permission to bring her to my ranch. I knew it was going to take some time but it was worth it. Now shes safe.

    Ward contacted the owners of the property and explained that he was willing to take the buffalo off the property, but when Ward got the OK and tried to load the buffalo into a trailer, the creature instinctively rushed out as soon as

    see Buffalo page 15A

    by Samie HartleyStaff Writer

    Byron rancher Charlie Ward offers an apple to Nakoma, a buf-falo he rescued from an abandoned property on Bethel Island.

    Photo by Richard Wisdom

    Former pastor pleads guilty

    The former pastor of Oakleys Live Oaks Church has pleaded guilty to charges of felony grand theft in connection with a fraudu-lent $110,000 mortgage secured against the church in 2008.

    Larry Pineda, 65, pleaded guilty in Contra Costa County Su-perior Court Nov. 3, just days be-fore jury selection was scheduled to begin in his trial.

    He pleaded guilty and was immediately sentenced to 210 days in the county jail, said Deputy Dis-trict Attorney Ken McCormick. However, since Pineda has no pre-

    vious criminal record, the Contra Costa County Sheriffs Offi ce may allow him to serve out his sentence at home via an electronic monitor-ing bracelet.

    McCormick said the convic-tion will assist the church in its on-going civil suit against Pineda. The church is currently paying $1,200 per month on the mortgage that Pineda secured and then put into his private bank account while he continued to draw a $40,000 an-nual salary from the church. Pineda used the mortgage money to fund a $7,000 trip to Israel, a $500 sub-scription to GOD TV and DMV

    by Ruth RobertsStaff Writer

    see Pastor page 17A

    A WWII Navy veteran recalls his harrowing tour of duty in the Pacific.

    War memoriesgo to multimedia/videos

    The Salvation Army has scheduled an ambitious array of holiday activities.

    Army mobilizedgo to news/WebExtras!

    A USDVA grant will allow a regional veterans cemetery to expand.

    More memorialsgo to news/press releases

    visit thepress.net like us on facebook follow us on twitterScan QR code with your mobile device to access these websites.

    With mixed emo-tions, the East Contra Costa Fire Protection on Monday ac-cepted the retirement re-quest from Paid on Call As-sistant Chief Maggie Fajardo after 44 years of service.

    Fajardo began his ser-vice with the Oakley Fire Protection District in 1967 and has held the ranks of lieutenant, training of cer and captain. He was pro-moted to the rank of assis-tance chief after the forma-tion of ECCFPD in 2003. Said Fire Chief Hugh Henderson, Maggie has performed an outstanding job of handling the role of support services for the district, making sure

    that our day-to-day needs were handled in a timely manner. Maggie has always been available to all of us in the middle of the night, to make sure there were cold drinks and replacement air bottles.

    Fond farewell

    Photo courtesy of ECCFPD

  • NOVEMBER 11, 2011 COMMUNITY THEPRESS.NET | 3A

    The East Contra Costa Fire Protec-tion District this week gave the thumbs-up to begin informing district residents about a $197-per-parcel tax it will ask voters to approve in June aimed at keep-ing the severely under-funded district afl oat.

    The board approved the fi rst of three educational mailers planned for between now and the election. The fl ier, which should appear in residents mailboxes next week, explains that the ECCFPD answers 5,300 calls per year covering 250 square miles and 105,000 people. It goes on to say a 35-percent drop in district revenue in recent years has outstripped the districts ability to make ends meet, and draconian cuts could result if the measure is not passed.

    We have undergone signifi cant budget cuts in recent years, including the closure of two fi re stations, eliminat-ing administrative positions and defer-ring equipment repairs, but we continue to face a structural defi cit of 2 million dollars annually, the fl ier states. At our current rate, all of the Districts re-sources will be exhausted by July 2012, resulting in additional station closures and signifi cant layoffs that would reduce

    staffi ng levels from 54 to 24.The board also approved a timeline

    for a series of public meetings aimed at informing the public about the tax, why it is needed and what will happen if it does not pass. The meetings, which will include sessions in each far East County community the district serves, will begin with a town hall meeting at the Discov-ery Bay Elementary School on Monday, Dec. 12 at 6:30 p.m.

    In addition to the town hall gather-ings, district offi cials will be making the rounds speaking to community groups and service clubs. Any organization that would like to hear fi rsthand about the measure is encouraged to call Fire Chief Hugh Henderson at 925-240-2131 or e-mail hhenderson@eccfpd.org.

    by Rick LemyreStaff Writer

    Fire flier on its way

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    PROFESSIONAL.QUALITY. SERVICES.

    Friends lend helping handThe Friends of Oakley Commu-

    nity Foundation will begin registering families for its annual Christmas Bas-ket Program next week.

    In its fourth year, the program provides holiday meals and toys to Oakley families in need. Meal boxes in-clude a turkey, fresh bread and vegetables, and nonperish-able food items such as instant mashed pota-toes and canned cranberry sauce. Wrapped toys are pro-vided to each child 18 and under.

    Registration takes place at the Oakley White House Community An-

    nex, 204 Second St., on Tuesday, Nov. 15 and Wednesday, Nov. 16 from 4 to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, Nov. 19 from 9

    a.m. to 1 p.m.As proof of Oakley

    residency, families must bring a Cali-

    fornia drivers license or iden-tification card and either a wa-ter or power bill with the family name on it. One family meal will be provided per

    residence. Ap-proved families