Town Crier: Dumping, theft, vandals still serious problems


Zion Lutheran Church uses its garden setting to host fundraising concerts such as this previous one. Zion officials hope to raise $2,500 from a June 2 event featuring fiddler Tom Rigney and his Cajun blues band, Flambeau. Photo courtesy of Kathy Pomianek

A scenic road through the redwoods is no place to dump an old sofa. Or some crummy kitchen cabinets. Or lawn clippings. Yet this is the least damaging of what’s dumped along Pinehurst Road through Canyon. Some scofflaws drive cars over the cliffs and into the watershed.

Most of this happens under cover of darkness, as I mentioned in a recent column in which I shared the story of an Oakland resident who found a contractor’s stolen truck in the hills. That truck belonged to Karl Kardel Consultancy.

“It was my large flatbed dump truck that the nice lady helped us recover when she saw it on her walk. Not only was this the third attempt to steal the truck (and the first successful one), but they used the truck to loot other construction sites that weekend night,” he writes.

Last year, Kardel’s pickup was stolen three times. “And the last time we never got it back along with $30,000 worth of gear. Stolen in broad daylight,” he adds.

As a longtime business owner, taxpayer and citizen, Kardel would like to see more police and enforcement of the laws. “Dumpers [and] graffiti applicators should be sentenced to a suitable time cleaning up what’s left of the city,” he says, noting that truckloads of debris are dumped outside his shop nightly. “The city,” he laments, “is broken down.”

Train time: The old Union Pacific engine is operating again at the Montclair Eggshop. Reader Steve Curtis has been working with cafe owner Miguel Barron to restore the model trains on the wall of the venerable restaurant. Curtis has fond memories of the trains running back and forth across the wall. He’s donated his time to get one train running again on the upper track and hopes to raise another $1,000 at to fix the second train.

“The funds will be used to replace the trains, power supplies and auto-reverse sensors,” he says, adding that his hope is kids will look up from their cell phones and tablets to marvel at the trains again.

Musical note: As far back as I can remember, fiddler Tom Rigney and his show-stopping Cajun blues band, Flambeau, have packed the Sacramento Music Festival. Now that the Memorial Day weekend event is defunct, fans have another option — the shaded gardens at Oakland’s Zion Lutheran Church (5201 Park Blvd.). Parishoner George Van Fossen came up with the concept a few years ago, realizing that the fragrant setting has good acoustics. Zion officials hope to raise $2,500 from a June 2 event, and jambalaya and po’boys will be served with what Rigney calls a “tasty musical gumbo.” See for details.

Email bag: Readers are reminding me there’s a petition online to support the money-strapped Oakland Animal Shelter. The shelter has only one animal control officer for 70,000 residents and is so short-staffed that it has to close if someone doesn’t show up to work.

Animal tales: A 70-pound octopus is a lot of seafood, but that’s not why Giovanni DeGarimore bought the eight-armed creature from a Morro Bay fisherman. He bought it to set it free, which he did last weekend. Why would the purveyor of Giovanni’s Fish Market turn away profits? He says he once played hide and seek with an octopus while diving in Fiji, and realized they’re wonderfully intelligent and sensitive creatures.

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


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