Town Crier: On Montclair mural, butterflies appear

PIE-PRIOR-0408-01.JPGMONTCLARION: April 15, 2016

Move over, Pacific Grove. Montclair is the newest butterfly-friendly destination in Northern California. Only these butterflies are on the new Gateway Mural on Mountain Boulevard near Park Boulevard.

Artist and art teacher Amanda Lockwood spent much of spring break painting new features on the public mural, which still needs an infusion of cash — about $1,000 — before work can resume at the beginning of summer. For more information, go to

Speaking of the southern entrance to Montclair Village — a hit-and-run driver destroyed the large wooden Montclair Village sign at Park and Mountain boulevards. The Montclair Village Association’s Daniel Swafford says it happened sometime around March 26 and that if anyone has information they should call Oakland police at 510-777-3333.

Verbal volley: There’s bad buzz on social media this month after a customer at a Montclair cafe approached two female diners and chastised them for speaking Spanish. The verbal exchange caused the manager to get involved and triggered a backlash on Facebook and Nextdoor. Meanwhile, the man who initiated the argument may need a hat and sunglasses after having his photo posted on social media.

Wine time: It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it — taste all the new releases in the East Bay Urban Wine Country. Eighteen local vintners are holding their first Spring Release Tasting from 12 to 5 p.m. April 30. Collectively, they’ll offer tastes of almost 100 new releases and library wines, along with barrel samples, paired foods and entertainment. Tickets are $40 at

Around town: If there’s one place where everybody knows your name, it’s the Montclair Safeway. It’s because they have so many longtime employees, says manager Bill Scramstad, who has been with the company 40 years — 23 of them at the Montclair store.

He could retire by now, but the store runs so smoothly that it’s used as a training site for new managers. So here’s a salute to our friendly, neighborhood grocers — Susan, Eugene, Gene, Mark, Joanie, Chris and a bunch who I’ve missed. And warm wishes to clerk Robin Azzalina, who is out because of illness and hopes to return soon. After 24 years of ringing up my purchases, I really miss seeing her at the register.

Email bag: Spring has sprung, and so has the delicate bloom called Scotch broom. Don’t be fooled by its lovely yellow flowers, says reader Joy Shussett. Not only does broom crowd out native trees, it poisons the soil, is highly flammable and downright tenacious.

“Its seeds remain fertile for as long as 80 years,” she says, “and its pods pop open in the fall to literally spray the seeds a distance away from the mother plant.”

Luckily, hills neighbor Wendy Tokuda has a Scotch broom patrol that knows how to eradicate the evil weeds. Email her at to find how you can help.

Animal tales: The cat’s out of the bag, but no one knows where it’s gone. After a recent column item about the mountain lion spotted heading toward the reservoir near Estates Drive, reader Margaret Handin pointed out there are actually two reservoirs in the area — a block apart. Who knew? Only the neighbors, I guess, and possibly the cougar who may still be in the area.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at



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