WCCUSD – CBOC Annual Report



Recently, I have received requests to speak to organizations and members of the community about the WCCUSD Bond Program, and specifically about the role of the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee. Many of the questions I have been asked are answered in the CBOC 2015 Annual Report.
I now present to the community at large the CBOC 2015 Annual Report.

The WCCUSD and all California School Districts that finance school facilities with voter approved Bond Funds have the expenditures for those Bond funds overseen by a Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee.
On November 7, 2000, California voters approved Prop 39, the Smaller Classes, Safer Schools and Financial Accountability Act.
In exchange, for passage of Bond Measures with only 55% of the votes, instead of 66 2/3%, the Legislature created the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee to assure the community that bond funds are expended as outlined in the schools district’s bond resolution.
The Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) issues an annual report in accordance with Prop 39.

The 2015 CBOC Annual Report was approved by the CBOC on June 22, 2016.
As the longest-serving member of the WCCUSD CBOC (three terms 2010-2016), and having the distinction of being the longest-serving Chair in the history of the WCCUSD CBOC, (2013-2016), it is with great pride that I present to the community the CBOC 2015 Annual Report.

Please take the time to read it thoroughly.

WCCUSD 2015 Annual Report.

Ivette Ricco
Former Chair, WCCUSD, CBOC


PSB – Rising From the Ashes




PSB – Rising from the Ashes

In October 2014, the Pear Street Bistro, was partially destroyed by a fire.
The Bistro or PSB, as locals know it, was a popular and bustling restaurant and bar located in the heart of Old Town Pinole.
It took 14 months, 14 very long months, for the Bistro to re-open its doors.
But, it re-open it did, on January 2, 2016, much to the delight of its many loyal customers.
PSB celebrated its five month anniversary on June 2, 2016.
I recently visited with Francisco “Paco” Flores the owner of PSB.

I asked, “what happened in October of 2014”?
Paco stated that the fire in October 2014 was caused by equipment malfunction.
I wondered why it had taken so long for the Bistro to re-open its doors.
Paco says that it took six months just to get the insurance company to begin the process.
In addition, all new permits had to be obtained since permits expired after 6 months, leading to more delays.
I wanted to know what had happened to the staff, many of whom loyal customers, such as I, had gotten to know.
Paco shared that the long wait made it impossible for all of the staff to return as they had begun work elsewhere. But that approximately 70% of the old staff did return, in spite of the fact that the restaurant was closed for over a year.

Paco has worked tirelessly with the help of others (Gary Wong) to ensure that the Bistro is not only as good as it was before the fire, but to give customers an enhanced experience.

So, I asked, “how has business been”?
Paco says business has been better than expected. There was some concern that customers had found other places to patronize, so the emphasis was on taking all the positives from before and adding even more to the PSB experience.

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So, what’s new?
Here’s what’s new.
New floor.
New paint.
New lighting.
New Chandeliers.
New marble table tops.
New media wall with 6K resolution.
New 4K display at the entrance.
New 70 inch LED TV at the bar.
New PO system.
New phone system.

Ok, but what about the food?
The menu has had only a few changes, about 30%.
The most popular Lunch items are the Margherita Pizza and the Bistro Burger.
The most popular Dinner items are the Chicken and Waffles, Cioppino and the Lomo Saltado Steak.
The Wednesday night 1/2 pound Prime Rib Dinner special is hugely popular.

Ok, and for the bar patrons?
Happy Hour from 3-7 at the Bistro is always “the” place to be.
The atmosphere is fun, the drinks are good and reasonably priced and the food is definitely a cut above typical Happy Hour fare.

Paco told me about a recent visit from two, shall we say, silver-haired visitors from Walnut Creek, who had read a review in the Mercury News and decided to come and check it out.
The review they read touted the Chicken and Waffles, which they ordered, but it also mentioned the new signature drink, the Pear Bomb.
The Pear Bomb, is, well, a drink that is meant to be taken in one large dose, but the couple, unaware of that fact, gingerly sipped theirs.

PSB is attracting not only locals but folks from other Bay Area cities because of its unique atmosphere, good food and creative drinks.

And, new cocktails have been created by the bartenders.
The most popular cocktails are the Pear-tini and the Jack Daniels Single Barrel Old Fashioned.
Among the new cocktails is the Blood Orange Mojito.
In order to be as accurate and authentic as possible for this report, I had a Blood Orange Mojito, just for authenticity’s sake.
Ok, let me just say, don’t drink this on an empty stomach!
It was delicious.

The Bistro is available for special events and parties.
In keeping with its history of community support and involvement it is host to meetings held by the Pinole Rotary and the Lions Club.

They promote all the local teams and have been packed during the recent Sharks and Warriors playoff runs.

Paco is a high energy guy, and he can be seen working everyday of the week.
He is still making improvements. As an example he has reduced the noise level in the dining room by installing carpeting and is also decreasing the sound level in the bar area with carpeting on the floor and the walls.
He has recently added a new Order To Go service.

You can follow PSB on Facebook.
To arrange for a special event contact Paco directly.

Pear Street Bistro
2395 San Pablo Avenue
Pinole, Ca. 94564

It’s Food Smack-Down Time!



It’s the  fifth year of the Pinole food smack-down also known as the Culinary Clash, presented by Kitchen@812.
2016 Culinary Clash
Friday, June 10 from 5:30-9 PM
812 San Pablo Ave., Ste. 2
Pinole, Ca. 94564

Four Teams
Four Culinary Creations
One Champion

Watch as four teams Fire up the Stoves and do battle in the kitchen for the Grand Prize.
This year’s Master of Ceremony, “Mack” Williams, welcomes the four teams:
Team Chevron led by Chef Narcisco Salvador
Team Contra Costa County led by Chef Phillipe Routhier
Team Mechanics Bank led by Chef Marc Maier
Team PG&E (the defending champions) led by Chef Meyta Saetern

The Judges:
Greg Dunmore, The Japanese Pantry
Alison Negrin, Chef Alison Negrin & Associates
Kevin Tucker, Old Skool Cafe
Your ticket entitles you to sample the teams’ creations, samples from 15 businesses, beer, wine and entertainment.
This is a fund-raiser for the Non-Profit Food Incubator, Kitchen@812.


812 San Pablo Avenue
Pinole, Ca. 94564
Tickets here


Pinole Community Playhouse Gets a Facelift


One of the nice things about living in a small community is that you get a chance to know great people who make contributions for all the right reasons.
This is the case with Patti and Dave Clark, the couple behind Pinole’s Community Playhouse.

*The Pinole Community Players, a group for adult performers, was organized in 1986 when local residents Dave and Patti Clark and Gary and Nancy Gill met and created a non-profit theatre organization with a goal of bringing live theatre to our community.
Since the beginning, full-scale Broadway shows have been performed without interruption. In the beginning the formative company consisted of a group of traveling players who performed in venues such as St. Joseph’s Parish Hall, St. Joseph’s School Auditorium and the Pinole Valley High School Little Theatre.
In 1991 after meeting with the Pinole City Council, the group moved to the former Eagles Hall and Senior Center and the Community Playhouse was formed.
Recent renovations supported by the Pinole Community Players, The East Bay Regional Parks District (Measure WW funds), the City of Pinole, and local residents who contributed financially to the project are now completed and make the Playhouse a downtown jewel with a totally remodeled theatre including new, comfortable stadium seating and expanded audience sight-lines.
The Art Deco design and air-conditioned interior create an elegant, artistic environment that is pleasing to all who attend performances there.

Ribbon cutting ceremony with Pinole Councilmember Tim Banuelos who donated his architectural talent to this project.


In 2016 the Pinole Community Players are celebrating their thirtieth year of producing full-scale Broadway shows in our community.
Recent productions have included Godspell, Arsenic and Old Lace, Next to Normal, Carrie, Rent, Thirty-Nine Steps, Chicago and Merrily We Roll Along.
Their newest production, Wait Until Dark opened on June 3 and runs through June 18.

Upcoming shows are, The Rocky Horror Show in October and a Holiday Production, Sounds of the Season,  in December.
In addition to the Broadway productions the Community Playhouse holds a 5-week drama  workshop for youth. The drama workshop starts Monday June 20 and runs through July 24.
There is also the Pinole Young Actors Group, a 4-week Summer Drama Workshop.

The Pinole Community Playhouse is located at the center of Old Town Pinole at Tennent Avenue and Park Street.
Plan a night out with dinner at one of our fine local restaurants and walk to the Community Playhouse for a show.
You don’t have to travel very far to enjoy a great night out in your own little corner of the world.

Pinole Community Playhouse
601 Tennent Avenue
Pinole, Ca. 94564

*Excerpts provided by Patti and Dave Clark.

Pinole Artisans – Movement and Growth


The Pinole Artisans group,  was founded in 2004.
They began as a small group of dedicated artists, eventually growing to its current roster of over 60 members. The Artisans held their first public art show in July of 2004 and have been adding more members, shows and venues since.
Previously located in Old Town Pinole, the Artisans’ Gallery is now located at Pinole Vista Crossing, 1360 Fitzgerald Drive, between Togo’s and Avenue.

Their new location is open and airy and enhances the many pieces of art on display.
Currently the works of 19 artists are on display and 28 artists will be represented in their Show.

Featured artists will also be featured.
New ideas and new types of art is included in the works of art, as an example they currently featured tattoo art.

But they also have beautiful pieces of jewelry and even hand-made soaps.

The new location is a new beginning for the Artisans and the “Movement and Growth” title accurately reflects that spirit.
Eric Carlstrom and Ira Velken are the Co-Managers at the new gallery and are happy to help you become a member or simply view the works of art.
The Artisans hope to add new members, expand their vision, and to work with the City of Pinole on projects such as the restoration and the maintenance of many of the murals around town.

Stop by the new gallery, open Tuesdays – Saturdays, 11-5, Sundays 1-4.
1360 Fitzgerald Drive, between Togo’s and Avenue.
Visit their website or call, 510-724-2008.


Garden of Gems, Thanks for the memories


A popular and unique small business is closing its doors, the Garden of Gems.
This one-of-a-kind business, one that provides custom care and service has been  challenged in today’s business environment.
Lee Ann Miller and her daughter Amber have offered their unique brand of service for the last 18 years, but sadly they have been pushed out.

The Garden of Gems was previously located at the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Tennent, (for seven years) where Tina’s Cafe is currently located.
The landlord raised the rent and Lee Ann was forced to relocate to its current location at 2235 San Pablo Avenue.
In spite of the lack of parking at the newer location Lee Ann had been able to maintain a loyal following and customer base, even during the Great Recession.

I asked Lee Ann why she has decided to close the store.
“Our revenue is down 46% and there is not enough sustainable business.”
“Customers are buying jewelry from places such as Costco, but when they need a ring sized or anything custom done, they can’t get that from places such as Costco, there is no customer contact or custom services.”
“In addition Costco doesn’t need to maintain inventory as we do, so their overhead is lower.”

Lee Ann says that most of her business comes from repairs, repeat customers and word of mouth.
I asked Lee Ann to speak directly to her customers:
“We are so grateful for all the years of support and appreciate, above all, the relationships we’ve made and maintained.”
“As a matter of fact, I met my husband here, he was a customer, as was my sister-in-law.”

“After 18 years in business we have decided to close our doors. We realize we can no longer survive these tough economic times. Our mission has always been to service the needs of the community by providing unique quality jewelry at a good value. We are proud of the reputation we have earned as your local jeweler. We are honored that you have allowed us to be a part of many of your lives and special events.”

Lee Ann laments the fact that customers are wondering where they can go to take care of their needs and they wonder who they can trust, the way they trust Lee Ann.
But, the good news is, that her daughter Amber, will remain in Pinole, and has secured a location on Quinan Street where she will continue her mother’s business, although on a smaller scale. So the Garden of Gems will live on.
Amber will provide repairs and other custom services and sales.
I will update this article when Amber is ready to open her doors.

I asked Lee Ann what her plans were and where she was going.
Lee Ann and her husband David are heading north to Oregon.
They aren’t exactly ready to retire, just ready to explore other possibilities and forge new adventures.

I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing and working with Lee Ann, she has been a great supporter of the Pinole Chamber of Commerce and has generously contributed her time, and talent to our many events, especially the Annual Awards Dinner.
She also has always generously donated items for Chamber raffles as well as for other local organizations.
Thank you Lee Ann for being such a wonderful person and business owner. You will be missed.
Thank you for everything you have done for this community.

Before Lee Ann heads north, be sure to go by and say thank you.
There is a Going Out of Business Sale taking place with discounts of 20-60%

The Garden Of Gems
2235 San Pablo Avenue
Pinole, Ca. 94564
Tues-Fri 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM