Board Honors Local Volunteers
Four years ago, Laura and Courtney Cunneen met a local teacher, who told them many children in her class came to school empty-handed because their families couldn’t afford school supplies.
The twins, then 12 years old, were saddened to think of other kids trying to learn without tools as basic as pencils and paper – so they decided to take action. They began collecting donated backpacks and school gear, and assembled 200 fully supplied backpacks for Puente de la Costa Sur, a nonprofit organization serving families in San Mateo County’s agricultural south coast area.
The need for school supplies hasn’t eased up in the past four years, and neither have the Cunneen sisters, now 16 and entering their junior year at Terra Nova High School in Pacifica. Their backpack program now serves 250 children in Pescadero, La Honda, Loma Mar and San Gregorio, and another 130 students in their hometown of Pacifica.
The backpacks are customized for various age groups, according to Kerry Lobel, executive director of Puente. “A kindergartener gets fat pencils and wide-ruled paper, and a high schooler will get a flash drive and composition books,” Lobel said. “They’re very well thought out.”
The drive brought in approximately $4,000 worth of supplies last year, enough to start providing classroom materials to teachers.
This year’s backpack drive is in full swing, but on July 24, the Cunneen sisters took a break to attend a San Mateo County Board of Supervisors meeting, where they received a Resolution and were honored for their efforts. “Giving feels good,” Laura said. “It makes us more motivated to do better every single year.”
For drop-off locations and lists of needed supplies, go to http://puentedelacostasur.org/.
“When you get a call, you got to go.”
Sheriff’s Sergeant Al Elzey Jr. is a SWAT team leader in addition to his regular patrol job, and he’s responded to a lot of adrenaline-pumping calls over the years.
“We’re responsible for handling critical, high-risk situations,” Elzey said. “Both SWAT and patrol can be very high-adrenaline, and when you get a call, you got to go.”
That’s what happened on the afternoon of July 15, when Elzey got a call about a baby boy who wasn’t breathing.
“Any medical call is serious, but when kids are involved, you want to get there quicker,” Elzey said. “I was only four blocks away, and I knew I’d beat fire and medical to the scene. My heart was racing pretty good.”
Sixty seconds later, Elzey arrived and it wasn’t pretty. The distraught family poured out of the house to meet him on the lawn, 1-year-old Antonio Gallardo hanging limp in his mother’s arms.
For more on this real-life emergency, read the entire entry.
Changing Lives: A Foster Success Story
Deborah and Cliff Kemper of San Carlos were living a life most people would envy. They had raised two children and, as empty nesters, were traveling the globe to exotic locations from Mount Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar. But something was missing.
So three years ago, the couple agreed to foster two children through San Mateo County’s Human Services Agency. They have since fostered two more and adopted one of the children, an 8-year-old girl. Both working professionals, they decided to provide a home for older children and sibling pairs, who can find it difficult to stay together.
County Proposes Sales Tax Increase: Measure on November Ballot
In case you had not heard, the Board of Supervisors has placed a measure on the November ballot that asks voters to increase the sales tax by a half-cent to fund vital services for 10 years.
If the measure is approved by voters, San Mateo County would receive approximately $60 million annually in additional revenue for general County purposes. The measure needs a simple majority to pass.
Read the news release for further details.
New Name for Department and Fun at the Tour de Peninsula
With the merger between Parks and Public Works now complete, the new department is officially known as the Department of Public Works and Parks under the direction of Jim Porter.
While all departments are struggling with dwindling resources, our parks face especially difficult challenges. That’s due in part because parks are not a mandated service; we are not required by local, state or federal law to operate parks.
The Board of Supervisors on July 31 held a special study session to discuss funding alternatives for parks. You can read the staff report and view the video stream of the study session.
And speaking of parks, this past Sunday, August 5, was the 21st annual Tour de Peninsula, a recreational bicycle ride organized by the San Mateo County Parks Foundation. Riders departed Coyote Point Park on one of our routes, from an easy one for families to a challenging metric century (63 miles).
Apart from providing a fun event with beautiful scenery, the main purpose of the Tour is to raise funds for the Parks Foundation and Bicycle Sunday – car-free biking on Cañada Road. The Parks Foundation funds projects that restore habitat, provide environmental education, improve trails and encourage recreational use of parks.
Preparing for the Worst
Thirty people representing San Mateo County, the American Red Cross and numerous local cities and nonprofit agencies recently toured the State Operations Center and received a briefing by Secretary Mark Ghilarducci of the California Emergency Management Agency, or Cal EMA.
The tour and briefing, led by the County Manager’s Office, was intended to build strong ties between local and state emergency managers and to see the Operations Center up close.
As you may know, we are looking at building a new emergency operations center to coordinate disaster response and recovery operations. The tour and briefing provide us with additional information about our own needs. Members of the Office of Emergency Services, Health System, Public Safety Dispatch, County Manager’s Office and Human Services Agency were among those who attended.
Circle Star Update
The Board of Supervisors has hired real estate brokers Cornish and Carey to oversee the leasing of Circle Star Two, one of two buildings the County purchased on Industrial Road in San Carlos less than a mile from County Center. The firm has distributed a marketing brochure and has been touring prospective tenants.
At Circle Star One, a mock-up of four different furniture options was open to the departments moving into the building plus the Ergonomic, Safety and Wellenss Committees. ISD and Construction Services also reviewed the options from their perspectives. More than 130 visitors to the mock-up completed an on-line survey about the options. While cost will be the primary driver for the furniture selection, we will also take the survey responses into consideration. The Circle Star One project remains on schedule for an August 2013 move-in, after the seismic work for the Public Safety Communications Center is completed on the first floor.
Save the Dates
Enjoy a free day of live entertainment at the North Fair Oaks Community Festival on Sunday, August 19, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The event includes food and beverages, children’s rides and a festive parade.
The parade, which will be on Middlefield Road, will include classic cars, bands, sports teams and specialty vehicles from the Sheriff’s Office. Here is a map of the route.
The festival proceeds benefit the many youth programs of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and provide scholarships.
The next Take A Hike will be Saturday, August 18, at Pillar Point Bluff, located near Moss Beach. This hike, guided by rangers and trained docents, offers participants a chance to take in the sights and sounds of the Pacific Ocean. The hike will start from the parking lot at 9 a.m. Come prepared by dressing in layers and be sure to bring a refillable water bottle, hat and sunscreen. This is the only location on the Take A Hike schedule that allows dogs.
Take A Hike is a monthly series of guided hikes that invites residents to enjoy our beautiful parks. View a short video recap of the most recent Take A Hike at Sawyer Camp Trail at
Keep Up with San Mateo County
Have you seen a copy of our 2012 Annual Report? We have distributed it at city halls, libraries and community centers across San Mateo County.
You can find a list of the County’s social media sites and ways to get conntected with County programs at www.smcgov.org under “Get Connected.”
This newsletter was produced by the County Manager’s Office. If you have questions or comments, send an e-mail to Marshall Wilson, the communications director, at email@example.com or call 650-363-4153.