Lamorinda in 2013: New Caldecott Bore, New Superintendent, Parcel Tax Approval, Real Estate Embezzlement

Some of the bigger stories this past year in Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda

The fourth bore for the Caldecott Tunnel opened in mid-November
The fourth bore for the Caldecott Tunnel opened in mid-November
As 2014 prepares to dawn, it's time to take a look back.

Here are some of the big stories that happened in the Lamorinda area in 2013.


Paint store opens: In mid-January, Kelly-Moore Paints opened a store on Mt. Diablo Boulevard in Lafayette. It was the company's 63rd store in the Bay Area.

Orinda senior homes: In late January, a ground-breaking ceremony was held for a long-awaited senior apartment complex in Orinda. The 67-unit development on Irwin Way is the first affordable housing community built in Orinda in 30 years.


Home explosion: In early February, an explosion started a fire at a home in Orinda. A 25-year-old man was burned. Investigators said marijuana was being grown on the Orchard Road property.

Academic decathlon winners: In early February, a team from Campolindo High School won the Contra Costa County high school academic decathlon competition. Another squad from Campolindo came in second while a team from Acalanes High finished third.

Lafayette school settlement: In late February, the Lafayette School District agreed to pay $725,000 to a former student who said he was molested by a former teacher. The teacher, Michael Merrick, is now serving time in state prison.

Miramonte wins mock trial contest: In late February, a team from Miramonte High School won the Contra Costa County high school mock trial competition. It was the second year in a row a squad from the Orinda school had won the contest.

Mountain Mike's closes: In late February, Mountain Mike's Pizza closed its doors in Lafayette after operating there since 2008. The owner said the rent had gotten too high.


St. Mary's basketball probation: In early March, the St. Mary's College men's basketball program was slapped with a four-year probation penalty.

Baseball coach arrest: In mid-March, a longtime youth baseball coach was arrested on child molestation charges. Joel Kaufman, 52, of Orinda pleaded not guilty to the charges in April.


Lafayette man shot: In early May, Michael Schock was shot by police officers outside his Lafayette home after the officers said he came outside with a knife and then charged at them. Schock is currently facing charges of obstructing an officer, exhibiting a deadly weapon and making criminal threats. In September, Schock filed a claim against the city, saying excessive force was used by police.

Yogurt shop robbery: In early May, a man armed with a handgun robbed the Yogurt Shack on Mt. Diablo Boulevard in Lafayette.

Florist opens: In early May, Floret, a new florist, opened for business in the Clocktower complex in downtown Lafayette.

Campolindo titles: In mid-May, the Campolindo High School boys swimming and volleyball teams won their North Coast Section divisional titles.

Sex abuse settlement: In mid-May, the Moraga School District agreed to pay former student Kristen Cunnane $2.8 million to settle a sexual abuse case. Cunnane, now an assistant swimming coach at U.C. Berkeley, said she was abused by two teachers while she attended Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School in the 1990s.

New Orinda police chief: In mid-May, Contra Costa Sheriff's Lt. Scott Haggard was appointed as the new police chief in Orinda. Haggard replaced Jeff Jennings, who took a job as deputy police chief for BART.

Lacrosse championships: In late May, the Acalanes High School boys and girls lacrosse teams captured North Coast Section Division II championships. 

Volleyball championship: In late May, the Campolindo High School boys volleyball team capture the Northern California Division II championship by defeating Whitney High of Rocklin in five sets.


Bike park voted down: In early June, the Lafayette City Council rejected plans to build a BMX bike park at the south end of Lafayette Community Park. The proposal had been in the works for five years.

Hen House closes: In mid-June, the Hen House closed its doors in Lafayette. The home and fashion store had operated in the 1800s-era building on Lafayette Circle since 2001.

New fire station: In mid-June, officials from Lafayette and the Moraga-Orinda Fire District continued their discussions on jointly purchasing a two-acre parcel on El Nido Ranch Road to build a new fire station to serve both areas. The Moraga-Orinda district purchased the property in July and continues to work with the Contra Costa Fire Protection District to build a station.

BART workers strike: In late June, BART workers walked off the job in a strike over contract negotiations. Gov. Jerry Brown eventually ordered the employees back to work. The union members went on strike again in the fall before a contract was finally reached.


Fire district chief leaves: In early July, Moraga-Orinda Fire District Chief Randall Bradley resigned after accepting a job as the chief of the Modesto fire department. Bradley had overseen the MOFD since 2009. He was eventually replaced by current Fire Chief Stephen Healy.

Orinda woman killed: In mid-July, a 90-year-old Orinda woman died after her car apparently plummeted down a ravine in the Orinda Woods area. The woman had been reported missing two days earlier.

Real estate fraud case: In late July, a San Leandro real estate agent was arrested, accused of defrauding a Lafayette couple out of $270,000. Authorities say the agent had control of the couple's home equity line of credit and was embezzling money from it.

New fire district board member: In late July, Kathleen Famulener was appointed to the Moraga-Orinda Fire District board of directors. She's the first woman to serve on the board.


Coffee shop closes: In early August, the Squirrel's coffee shop closed after 30 years in business in Lafayette. The owner said it had simply become too expensive to operate the business.

Burglary suspect arrested: In late August, a burglary suspect who led Lamorinda police on a day-long chase earlier that month was finally arrested in Concord. James Joshua Jarrad had eluded police in early August by hiding in two homes and stealing a car.


Settlement in molestation case: 
In early September, the Moraga School District reached a $1.8 million settlement in a child molestation case. A 30-year-old Castro Valley woman sued the district, saying she was molested by a science teacher when she was in middle school. The teacher committed suicide in 1996 after being accused of molestation by several former students.

New Lafayette superintendent: In late September, Assistant Superintendent Rachael Zinn was appointed as the new superintendent for the Lafayette School District. She replaced Fred Brill, who accepted a job as superintendent of the San Lorenzo Unified School District.

New Acalanes board member: In late September, Nancy Jo Kendzierski was appointed to the Acalanes Union High School District board of education. She replaced Gwen Reinke, who resigned on Aug. 1 after she moved out of the district.


New St. Mary's College president: In mid-October, James Donahue was inaugurated as the 29th president at St. Mary's College in Moraga. Donahue said the college can change the world "one student at a time."

New Orinda subdivision: In mid-October, Pulte Homes held a grand opening for its 73-home subdivision on Altarinda Road in Orinda. The 10-acre development had been on the drawing boards for a decade.

Golf champions: In mid-October, the Miramonte High girl's golf team won the North Coast Section Division II title. Arielle Caronna led the team by finishing third individually.

Smoking BART train: In late October, a smoking BART train caused a traffic nightmare in Orinda. The smoke caused officials to prohibit trains from stopping at the Orinda BART station for two hours. They also closed Camino Pablo in both directions at Highway 24 while the incident was investigated.

Lafayette smoking restrictions: In late October, the Lafayette City Council approved new, tougher smoking regulations. The new ordinance prohibits smoking in multi-family complexes as well as public events and outdoor public and dining areas.


Parcel tax approved: 
In early November, Moraga voters approved a $192 annual parcel tax to help fund local schools. The tax will be imposed for six years and raise $1.1 million each year.

Fire district makes cuts: In early November, the Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District board of directors made cuts in its daily staffing as well as increased some of its fees in an effort to eliminate a $950,000 deficit in its $20 million budget.

Montessori school rejected: In early November, the Orinda City Council voted down a proposal to build a Montessori school on the site of the old Phair's department store in Orinda Village. The vote overturned the Planning Commission's approval of the project.

State golf championships: In mid-November, Acalanes High School golfer Elizabeth Schultz finished in a tie for second at the California high school golf championships.

Caldecott fourth bore: in mid-November, the $417 million fourth bore was finally opened at the Caldecott Tunnel. The three-year project finished ahead of schedule and under budget.

Bank robber search: In mid-November, Lafayette police searched the downtown area after a man robbed the Westamerica Bank on Mt. Diablo Boulevard. The suspect was not found. Concerns were later raised that two schools were not locked down during the search.

Former real estate broker sentenced: In mid-November, a former Orinda real estate broker was sentenced to 12 years in prison for bilking clients out of $2 million. Carl Miller, 49, was convicted of grand theft by embezzlement, filing false documents at a government office and forgery.

Orinda housing element: In mid-November, the Orinda City Council approved a new housing element to its General Plan. The element will guide city housing policies through 2014.

Water polo champions: In mid-November, the Campolindo boys and girls water polo teams won North Coast Section championships. The boys captured the Division I crown by defeating Miramonte High while the girls also defeated their Miramonte rivals to grab the Division II title.

Power pole falls: In mid-November, a utility pole fell against an under-construction building in Lafayette. Power was cut off to the neighborhood while the pole was fixed. It was determined that a trench dug too close to the pole and a heavy rainstorm caused the pole to topple.

Library site purchase: In late November, the Lafayette City Council agreed to use $1.97 million in general reserve funds to purchase the old Contra Costa County library building on Moraga Road.

Cross country champions: In late November, the Campolindo High School girls cross country team captured the state Division III championship. In addition, Campolindo's Aidan Goltra won the boys' Division III race for the second year in a row.


Man returns home: In early December, a man reported missing in late September returned to his mother's home in Orinda. Raymond Chen, 24, said he planned to "heal" and finish his education.

Slimmed down project: In early December, the Lafayette City Council got its first look at a smaller housing development proposal for a 22-acre parcel near Acalanes High School. The plan now calls for 45 single-family homes instead of 315 apartments for the Terraces project. A series of hearings is scheduled for January.

Miramonte captures football title: In early December, Miramonte High School snared the North Coast Section Division II football title by defeating Casa Grande High, 41-28.

"Radioactive" package: In mid-December, police closed off parts of Mt. Diablo Boulevard and Brown Avenue after a package that was labeled "radioactive" was discovered. The package, which was stolen from a Walnut Creek business, was eventually determined to be safe.

Bus, truck collide: In mid-December. a bus and a truck collided on St. Mary's Road in Moraga. Police said the accident happened when the truck skidded on a stretch of roadway covered with black ice.

New burger place: In mid-December, Roam Artisan Burgers opened its doors in Lafayette. The gourmet burger restaurant is located in the old A.G. Ferrari Foods building in La Fiesta Square.

Attempted kidnapping trial: In mid-December, a transient was ordered to stand trial for attempted kidnapping. Ralph Grohs, 57, is accused of trying to grab an 8-year-old girl near the Lafayette Library and Learning Center in October.


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