City hall sees another departure after Lesher Center saga
Barry Gordon, head of the city's Arts, Recreation and Community's Services Department, will retire at the end of the year, after nine years of working for the city.
Gordon was one of four employees placed on paid administrative leave for more than two months during an internal investigation into the handling of a former Lesher Center employee who committed child sex abuse. Gordon, along with the others, were brought back, cleared of any wrongdoing concerning state-mandated reporting of child abuse. But that whole situation, which has caused the City Council headaches over the past several months and reached up to the city manager's office, seems to be the reason Gordon is choosing to resign now.
In an e-mail, Gordon said his retirement is coming "much earlier than I had planned" and says "Although this has been a particularly challenging year, the (arts) department has not missed a beat in providing world class programs and services that make Walnut Creek a great place to live, work and play."
He also said his announcement comes with both excitement and sadness. He says he has been blessed to work with his staff and that he and City Manager Ken Nordhoff will work together to "ensure a smooth transition" when he leaves in December.
Gordon is the fifth high-level city employee to resign in the past two months. Assistant City Manager Lori Tinfow, City Attorney Bryan Wenter, Assistant City Attorney Katy Wisinski and Human Resources Director Sally Rice have all left.
City of Walnut Creek wins award
The League of California Cities has selected the city of Walnut Creek as a 2013 Helen Putnam Award winner.
Walnut Creek was honored for the 20-page publication "A Community Connected: The 2012-14 Budget Story," which used graphics, photos and short stories to share the city's budget details and process in a more engaging way than traditional budget binders full of spreadsheets.
"A budget really tells the story of an organization's priorities," said city Communication and Outreach Manager Gayle Vassar. "So why not use storytelling techniques to bring critical information to the community in a way they might enjoy reading?"
The final printed product was delivered to every residence in Walnut Creek and included QR codes for readers that are interested in greater detail on the budget. The city also created and published an interactive multimedia PDF that was published through Issue.com.
The 2013 award winners were honored during the Opening General Session of the League's Annual Conference & Expo at the Sacramento Convention Center held Sept. 18-20, according to a news release.
The "Budget Story" is available on the City's website, www.walnut-creek.org/budget. The detailed budget is also available at that site.
Community Service Day on Saturday
The city's 2013 Community Service Day will be held this Saturday, Sept. 28. There are more than 60 widely varied projects that volunteers will be rolling up their sleeves to work on.
Last year's Community Service Day drew more than 1,100 volunteers. Many projects, such as creating fundraising stationery for Creek Kids Care, helping the homeless and beautifying Lar Rieu Park, are back. And there are some new projects as well, such as installing a disc golf course at Walden Park or working on the 10-home Habitat for Humanity project on Barkley Avenue, adjacent to Interstate 680 and across the freeway from the Walnut Creek BART station.
Every public school and library in Walnut Creek is offering at least one project, and food drives will be held throughout Walnut Creek.
Community Service Day begins at 7:30 a.m. with a free pancake breakfast at Heather Farm Community Center, courtesy of the Walnut Creek Lions Clubs. Community Service Day T-shirts will be given to the first 700 volunteers that morning.
At 9 a.m., volunteers will begin working. There are also seven projects that offer an afternoon shift from noon to 3 p.m. For more information go to www.walnut-creek.org/service.
Sci-Fi professor to discuss metaphor of book burning
The themes of book burning and censorship will be the focus of a special Wed., Oct. 2 presentation at the Walnut Creek Library on "The Metaphor of Book Burning" by Robert Gorsch, a Saint Mary's College professor of English.
Gorsch's program is the second of this year's community events for "One City One Book: Walnut Creek Reads," and the discussion ties directly to the underlying themes of "Fahrenheit 451," the Ray Bradbury classic about censorship and the burning of books and this year's selection for Walnut Creek Reads.
The program is free. Reservations are recommended and can be made online at www.WCLibrary.org.
Gorsch has been a member of the Saint Mary's College English Department since 1984. In addition to teaching British literature, Gorsch teaches science fiction and has recently taught classes on "The Mythology of Mars and the Martians," "Classic Science Fiction Films" and " Nightmare Futures."
Two other upcoming Walnut Creek Reads events are a workshop for adults on "How to Create a Graphic Novel" (Thurs., Oct. 10, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Walnut Creek Library) and a second book discussion (Mon., Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Ygnacio Valley Library). Both events are also free.
Reservations are recommended for the graphic novel workshop and can be made online at www.WCLibrary.org.
For more information on the Walnut Creek Reads program, visit www.WCLibrary.org or call 925-935-5395.
October 'Spotlight' highlights police
October's "Second Saturday Spotlight" shines on the work of the Walnut Creek Police Department Foundation with a guided tour of the department.
The program begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 and will last 90 minutes.
Tour guides will lead participants to different stations where police department employees will share information about everything from solving crimes to working with the K9 units. Highlights include the Bomb Truck, SWAT team and a variety of police vehicles. Plus, Walnut Creek's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT.) will be on hand to share disaster preparedness tips. (Note: Activities may vary depending on weather).
Check-in will be in the lobby of City Hall, 1666 N. Main St. between 8:30 and 9 a.m. All Spotlight programs are free, but advance registration is requested. To register, visit www.walnut-creek.org/spotlight. To register, visit www.walnut-creek.org/spotlight or call 925-256-3505.
Get 'up close' at Lindsay Wildlife Museum
Lindsay Wildlife Museum introduces "Saturday Keeper Workshops" that let young animal lovers meet the museum's professional animal keepers, and learn how they do their jobs caring for the museum's resident animal ambassadors.
This two-hour workshop explores the world of the museum's animals and their human caretakers close-up. Young naturalists, ages 6-15, learn how animal keepers care for animals, clean enclosures, prepare diets, encourage exercise and activity and train cooperative behaviors. Workshops begin at 9 a.m. before the museum opens to the public.
The first workshop will be held 9 a.m. Sept. 28 and will focus on raptors. The second workshop will take place on Jan. 25 and will focus on mammals.
Both workshops will take place at the museum, 1931 First Ave., in Walnut Creek.
The cost is $35 for members and $45 for nonmembers.
For more information call 925-627-2913 or go to wildlife-museum.org.
'On Broadway' fundraising gala coming up Oct. 5
"On Broadway," a fundraising gala for arts and youth programs at Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts, will be held Saturday, Oct. 5 in downtown Walnut Creek.
The black-tie event raises money to support the hundreds of arts programs presented each year at the Lesher Center, including the Arts Access School Time field trips for underserved K-12 students and the annual Chevron Family Theatre Festival. Funds raised through On Broadway's silent and live auctions also will allow the Diablo Regional Arts Association -- the Lesser Center's nonprofit partner and the host of On Broadway -- to expand the diversity of high-quality entertainment available in the East Bay suburbs.
The headline show -- starring "Saturday Night Live" alum and Broadway performer Ana Gasteyer -- will be held in the Lesher Center's Hofmann Theatre.
Limited gala tickets are still available at $300. The price includes cocktails, dinner, the headliner show and encore party. To purchase tickets or for more information about the event, visit www.draa.org or call 925-295-1470.
'Restaurant Walk' a benefit for girls' learning
More than 25 Walnut Creek restaurants will be providing delicious samples from their menus as part of the Walnut Creek Restaurant Walk, from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 1, sponsored by the American Association of University of Women.
This is essentially a progressive dinner party in downtown Walnut Creek, with ticket sales revenue to benefit the Orinda-Moraga-Lafayette Tech Trek fund, which supports sending young women to science/math university summer camps The camps feature hands-on activities in math, science and related fields.
Send checks, at $30 per person, to Gail Chesler at 2914 Fyne Dr., Walnut Creek, CA 94598. Checks should be made out to AAUW OML Community Outreach Fund, Inc.
-- Compiled by Elisabeth Nardi