Wednesday, March 28, 2007


By Len Ramirez
Photos by Julie Ramirez

You'll see the large brown sign pointing the direction to a little piece of Alum Rock history...the boyhood home of one of the most influential American civil rights leaders of the 1960's and 70's: Cesar E. Chavez.
Chavez's brother, Librado, joined San Jose City Councilmember Nora Campos and children from nearby Cesar Chavez Elementary School, Adelante Academy and McCollam Elementary to unveil the prominent sign directing visitors to the Chavez home. The new sign is located on the corner of Sharff Avenue and E. San Antonio Street.The festive occasion was highlighted by the students, who read their award-winning poems about Chavez and farmworkers. "It's very fitting that the children are here, because education is the key to success," said Campos. Librado added that although his brother never finished school, "education was always very important to Cesar."Cesar Chavez was born in Yuma, Arizona and lived there until his family lost their home when he was ten. The family then moved to California and migrated around the state following the seasons and picking crops. The family finally moved to San Jose and settled into the small home on Sharff Avenue when Chavez was in the 8th grade. After serving in the US Navy, Chavez moved back to San Jose, married Helen, his teenage sweetheart and became active as a political organizer in the neighborhood off Alum Rock Avenue, then known as "Sal Si Puedes" (get out if you can) because the streets in that section of 1950's East San Jose were not paved. Chavez joined others committed to improving the area in the Community Services Organization, and later he branched off forming farm labor unions, including the United Farm Workers (UFW). His work led to numerous improvements in wages and working conditions for farmworkers. Chavez died on April 23, 1993. His birthday on March 31st, has become a holiday in four U.S. states including California, and many parks, cultural centers, libraries, schools, and streets have been named in his honor in several cities across the United States.
The Chavez family home has been designated as a San Jose Historical Landmark, one of few on the East Side.


Six of Alum Rock Union Elementary School District's schools showed "significant improvement" on their revised Academic Performance Index (API) test scores, according to school district officials.
Statewide results were published Tuesday by the California Department of Education.
Based on an in-depth analysis of the revised API scores, the data shows Linda Vista Elementary increased 16 points from 726 to 742; Rogers Elementary grew 7 points from 679 to 686; Shields increased 6 points from 645 to 651; Painter Elementary moved up 2 points from 761 to 763; and Cureton Elementary and Slonaker Academy both increased by 1 point from 702 to 703 and 666 to 667 respectively.
"These improvements are the result of a uniform focus on the state content standards, on research-based best practices of teaching and learning, and data-driven accountability," said Alum Rock Superintendent Norma Martinez in a district press release.
Alum Rock also met all of its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) indicators in 2006.
The API measures school and district growth based on a scale ranging from 200 to 1000 points.
Unfortunately, no Alum Rock schools met the state's target of 800 points.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


By Elaine Travers

"Winter , Spring, Summer or Fall, All you have to do is call, And I'll be there, You've got a Friend."
These are the words in a song by Carole King that exemplify what it means to be a Friend of the Dr. Roberto Cruz Alum Rock Library. Friends of the libraries are volunteers committed to support and supplement needed library resources. Friends advocate the importance of library services in our communities and raise funds through book sales to achieve library goals. Your donations of gently used and resalable books are accepted at the library year-round. Be a Friend and share your ideas and talents. Contribute books, cassettes, CDs, DVDs and videos. Also encourage others to use the library and make it an essential part of their lives.
Our next meeting is March 27th, 5:00 - 6:00 at the library. For more information call the library at 808-3090 or Elaine Travers at 258-4255.
"I get by with a little help from my Friends." --Paul McCartney and John Lennon

Monday, March 19, 2007


Words, photo, and video by Len Ramirez

Cpl. Ivan Hernandez needs an hour of physical therapy everyday to help rebuild his strength following injuries suffered during combat in Iraq. CBS 5 Cameraman Joe Rojas gets the shot on video.
Marine Corporal Ivan Hernandez survived two tours of duty in Iraq, three IED explosions and came home to Alum Rock on Friday with two Purple Hearts for injuries suffered in combat.
"I can't even put a sock on because I can't reach down there," Hernandez told me during an interview which aired on CBS 5 tonight, the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war.
Hernandez,22, was severely injured in a suicide bomb attack in Barwana, Iraq on February 7th. Two Marines, one Iraqi interpreter and two Iraqi policemen were killed in the attack, which happened at a security checkpoint when an insurgent with explosives under his clothing walked up to the crowded area and blew himself up. "I heard the explosion, and I fell to the ground," Hernandez explained in a quiet voice. "I tried to get up, but I couldn't."
The blast left Hernandez with shrapnel wounds on his left shoulder, hand, knee and ankle. Metal debris tore through nerves making it difficult and painful for him to walk, even with crutches. After treatment in Iraq and Germany, Hernandez was transported to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Palo Alto, where he has been undergoing physical therapy.
"It's hard to see myself, not being able to do things," Hernandez said during one of his workouts.
Hernandez has made progress during the past month, and was discharged from the VA last week. He also passed a special driving test given to injured Iraq veterans by the VA to clear them to get behind the wheel again. Hernandez left the hospital with his wife Desiree and their 3 year old daughter Destiny at his side. The couple met when they were both 16 and working part-time at Great America. He is a graduate of Yerba Buena High School, and Desiree graduated from James Lick. The young family lives near Capitol and Alum Rock. "You hear about soldiers who get injured everyday, but you never hear about all the recovery they have to go through. That was really overwhelming," Mrs. Hernandez said.
Many more months of rehab await Corporal Hernandez, who credited his wife and his mother, Maria. "I don't know what I would have done without them," he said. Maria Hernandez told me in Spanish that she prays for her son's recovery, and for peace.
See Len's TV news report on CBS 5:
Watch raw video behind-the-scenes on CBS 5 shoot:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Come on Alum Rock neighbors! Join us, your fellow concerned Alum Rock neighbors, this Thursday evening, March 15, 7:00 p.m. at the Joseph George Community/Recreation Center (277 Mahoney Drive). The building is located right between the band building on the corner and the back of the school cafeteria ... where the small parking lot is for the middle school. Not sure where that is ..... just get yourself near the building, Steve and I will be standing outside to greet you B-).

Participation at the ARNC meetings has been at a critical low lately, Steve's getting tired of hauling that same 'ol box of water in and out of his car and I'm getting tired of seeing the same 'ol faces! sorry guys and gals but I know you feel the same way ........ LOL

We want to brainstorm and discuss, with a larger group, potential neighborhood projects for the year, perhaps we can even come up with a fun neighborhood meet and greet activity. Bring all of your ideas! bring a neighbor! heck, bring your dinner if need be, just get yourself to THIS meeting. Did I mention the fabulous door prize yet? what? you didn't know we had a door prize? see what you're missing!

See you Thursday evening!

David Sanchez
ARNC President

Friday, March 09, 2007


By Allan Thompson

The Santa Clara County FireSafe Council has released the first Public Draft of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the East Foothills area east of San Jose for comments. Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) are the new standard for evaluating a community’s risk from wildfires. CWPPs not only set forth a detailed plan for ongoing wildfire prevention maintenance in a specific area, but also provide other important benefits to the community.
These Benefits to the Community include:
Higher priority for Federal grant dollars for fuel reduction projects
Quicker turnaround for environmental permits or navigating compliance issues
Communities can organize projects to reduce fire prone fuels without Federal funding
Identification of appropriate Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) boundaries with community input
The East Foothills CWPP was developed by SCFSC and Dudek, a wildfire prevention planning company, with assistance from the San Jose Fire Department, CDF (now CAL FIRE), and many other stakeholders and residents. It is the first CWPP completed in Santa Clara County. The San Jose Fire Department Wildland Officer, Fire Captain José Guerrero, has been involved in the planning process from the beginning. Captain Guerrero states, “We’re very excited about this project. It’s a great example of how the public and private sectors can take steps to reduce the risk of wildfires in the foothills of San Jose.”

Allan Thompson
Santa Clara County FireSafe Council
(408) 272-7008

How quickly can fire strike? Just watch this video shot by Julie Ramirez!

Thursday, March 08, 2007


As a cancer survivor, KRON-4 TV's Ysabel Duron knows the importance of early cancer detection. That's why her latest non-profit venture, Latinas Contra Cancer is launching a Cervical Health Initiative in February 2007. They plan 4 Mother/Daughter rallies in Santa Clara County high schools to educate Latinas about the HPV virus and cervical cancer. James Lick High School will host a rally on March 15th.
The mission of LCC is to save lives through education, access and early detection. 2 times as many Latinas get cervical cancer as the mainstream population.
The campaign is targeting 1000 low-income, Spanish-speaking mothers and their daughters who often lack awareness, and face income, cultural and social barriers to education and health care. LCC trained 16 teen peer educators to help lead their unique bi-lingual educational game, Cervical Health Bingo, at the rallies.
The bingo serves as an icebreaker, works to dispel myth and misinformation, and opens up taboo conversation about this deadly disease. The human papilloma virus is the source of cervical cancer and is a sexually transmitted disease. The teens and their mothers will learn this is not about sex but about health and a life saving vaccine. At the beginning of the campaign, one of the girls took the invitation home to her father; her mother is in Iraq. He listened and learned and took her to get the vaccine. That’s one less LCC has to worry about.
LCC has invited the public health department, and clinics to provide as many low cost screenings, pap smears and the HPV vaccine as possible.
If this unique educational event and the CHB tool works as effectively as expected, LCC plans to make the program available to other Latino health care providers to launch in their communities.
The first rally was held February 8th at Gilroy High School and 102 mothers and daughters attended. 14 girls or 30% of attendees signed up for the new HPV vaccine. The three other schools are Latino College Prep Academy at NHU, James Lick High School and Downtown College Prep.
The Cervical Health Initiative is the primary education campaign leading up to LCC’s
2007 Mother’s Day Walk Against Cancer, May 13th, in downtown San Jose, which will turn the spotlight on cervical and breast cancer.
For more information you can visit her website:

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


CBS 5's Eye on the Bay visits Alum Rock. Correspondent Marla Tellez and crew did a fabulous job profiling our little corner of the world.
You can view the video online by clicking on the link below:


San Jose police are investigating the discovery of a man's body on Penitencia Creek Road near the entrance to Alum Rock Park Wednesday morning.
Passersby called authorities to report seeing a man down at Penitencia and Dorel Drive at about 6:40 a.m., police Sgt. Nick Muyo said.
"We're not quite sure what time it all went down," but the death
is being investigated as suspicious, he said.
Police believe there may have been a fight or some other disturbance in that area in the hours prior to the body's discovery. Anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious is asked to call the San Jose Police. This is believed to be San Jose's 5th murder of 2007.

CONTACT: San Jose police (408) 277-5339

Sunday, March 04, 2007


"You had to be there!"

Words and photo by Judy Thompson

It wasn’t hosannas rising in the sanctuary of Foothill Presbyterian Church last Friday afternoon, but the atmosphere rang with music and youthful exuberance as the student musicians of four local schools strutted their stuff for the community.

With the cooperation of the church and its music director, Jay Jordana, the music department of James Lick High School hosted the second annual Alum Rock Music Festival to showcase the accomplishments and musicality of our own youngsters. Last year’s event was held in the Rotunda of the new City Hall downtown. The rotunda was a novel performance venue for the young Eastsiders, but the reverberating acoustics (and lack of seating) left much to be desired. Foothill Presbyterian, on the other hand, seems a natural - considering its proximity, warm ambiance, comfortable seating and pleasant openness for musical “sharing.”

Lick’s vibrant young music director, Tomoko Nakajima, invited the advanced bands of Joseph George, Ocala and Pala Middle Schools to perform on a program which included the JLHS wind ensemble and choir. Pala Middle School presented a bonus performance from their fledgling vocal ensemble – an earnest group of a dozen or so young singers which meets with director Ted Henderson three days per week simply for the joy of singing – no credits earned. Mr. Henderson said that last year’s performance by the Lick choir inspired his students to raise their voices in song, as well.

It was not exactly a competition, but the students representing the four schools enthusiastically and loyally rallied at each mention of their school. Lick principal Bill Rice, District 5 Councilmember Nora Campos, and Lick alumna Darcie Green (who now works in the office of California Assembly member, Joe Coto) all addressed the assembled students and community members. There were two clear messages: the first one thanked parents and the community for supporting music programs and young musicians in our area and urged them to please continue the interest. The other message beamed passionately at the middle schoolers especially by Ms. Nakajima was to set their sights on James Lick High School to continue with their music education when they matriculate to high school. The Lick band and choir program could easily accommodate many more students in Ms. Nakajima’s capable and loving musical embrace.

The music performed ranged from classic arrangements for band to exotic imaginary trips to other cultures and earlier eras. At one point, Ms. Nakajima even had the whole room singing along about “Livin’ and Lovin’”!
The finale was a performance of the Lick High School Fight Song played and sung by the formally dressed JLHS band and choir with community members joining in.

When the performances and applause were just echoes in the sunny sanctuary, the students and community members regrouped in Foothill’s community room for refreshments. Cakes of many flavors and descriptions disappeared quickly as the teenagers (and not-so-teenagers) dug in. Newly minted ARUESD board trustee, Patricia Potter, could be seen deftly wielding a spatula serving up carrot cake squares.

Next year – surely there will be many more such annual celebrations – plan to join in this musical love feast. What more could our community desire than a great afternoon of free performances, plentiful cake and a huge dose of youthful energy? The latter rubs off on us older folks, you know.