Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells
Terry McDonald’s Birthday
Terry is celebrating three quarters of a century on the earth this year. It is somewhat maddening as he could pass for 50, but it shows that he does live a full active life. His good friends, Thom and Wendy Foulks hosted a dinner party for him and some close friends at their beautiful waterfront home in Stockton.
Thom and Wendy met when they both worked in the Seychelles Islands. They are both world-class SCUBA divers, and have had many trips to exotic locations. As you might expect, their home is on the exotic side. They have plenty of aboriginal art from many tropical islands, along with a few Dalis and other modern works. Their home is a museum in itself.
The back yard is a tropical paradise with palm trees, a sandy beach and plenty of tropical plants. The vegetation is so thick you can’t see the neighbors on either side. Looking to the rear you are on Fourteen Mile Slough, and there is a backdrop of trees on the far shore.
The live music was perfect, classic rock, folk and a little country thrown in. After cocktails and chatting, we sat down for dinner. The barbecue team plied us with chicken and beef kabobs, along with fresh salad and potatoes. Weibel Family Winery supplied all the excellent dinner wines. We finished with birthday cake. We had a fabulous time with some great folks joking and telling stories. After dinner, Thom and Wendy took us on a tour of their home. It is amazing on two levels with a semi-indoor pool on the lower level. From the street the home is beautiful, but you don’t realize how large it is until you are on the inside.
Claire Marshall checks in from the Delta Coves subdivision on Bethel Island. She says, “the Island Camp, a 15,000-square-foot activity hub and private club designed by renowned San Francisco based architectural firm, Hart Howerton, is slated to open in early July. Located on a private, swimmable lagoon off the canals of the California Delta in Bethel Island, Calif., the community is home to waterfront residences all featuring private boat docks. Home configurations include three to five bedrooms and three- to five-and-a-half baths, starting from the high $700,000s to $1.6 million.
“Delta Coves is situated in a prime location, just minutes from fast water at the gateway to 1,000-plus miles of waterways for unlimited boating, fishing and water sports pursuits. As the centerpiece of social life at Delta Coves, residents will enjoy is a variety of programming and on-site activities available at the Island Camp, curated by DMB Community Life. The Island Camp features amenities including a state-of-the-art fitness center and movement studio, a club room with picturesque views of the lagoon, event lawn, pool complex including a main pool, toddler pool and hot tub with cabanas for lounging and a Duffy boat bar created from a refurbished Duffy boat, and positioned on a sandy corner of the Island Camp alongside the water. In addition, the game pavilion serves as an indoor-outdoor activity space complete with ping-pong, shuffleboard, bag toss, a wide range of family table games and barbecues.” This is a beautiful subdivision. If you are looking for a waterfront home in the California Delta you need to look at Delta Shores.
We have recent word from the Delta Independence Day Foundation that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of Barron Hilton’s 4th of July fireworks show have rescheduled the Delta celebration for Saturday, Sept 5.
“For 62 years, Barron Hilton launched fireworks from Venice Island for the benefit of boaters in the San Joaquin Delta,” said Tom Foscue, president of the Delta Independence Day Foundation. “Even though he passed away last fall, he created an endowment that will enable us to continue this remarkable, patriotic tradition in the future. With the economy gradually reopening, we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to launch the show in the middle of the Labor Day Weekend.” As a founding member of the Venice Island Duck Club, Hilton first lit pinwheels and launched rockets from the levee in 1958 for the enjoyment of his family and fellow members including Clark Gable, D.K. Ludwig and Dan Nomellini. “The first year, about a dozen boats stopped to take in the show, and the following year the number doubled,” Foscue said. “Then, as Barron put it, ‘It just seemed to grow like an amoeba!’” Today the show is produced by Pyro-Spectaculars and fired from a barge provided by the Dutra Group, which is anchored near the Stockton Deep Water Channel at Mandeville Cut. “It is one of the most anticipated events in the Delta each and every year,” explained foundation Vice President Tom Simms, who like Foscue, is a longtime member of the Venice Island club. “Instead of simply cancelling the show, we opted to aim for the Labor Day weekend to keep Barron’s streak alive and salute the heroic frontline professionals who are leading the fight against COVID-19. I can’t think of a better tribute to the man who made it all possible, the remarkable entrepreneur, sportsman and philanthropist, Barron Hilton.”
Hilton succeeded his father, Conrad Hilton in 1966, and ran Hilton Hotels Corporation for the next 30 years. In the prior two decades, he founded such businesses as Vita-Pakt Citrus Products, Air Finance Leasing Company and the Carte Blanche Credit Card. He was also a founder of the American Football League as owner of the Chargers, and helped forge the merger with the NFL that created the Super Bowl. In his retirement, he focused on hunting, fishing, flying and philanthropy, and left virtually all his wealth to the humanitarian work of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
100 Years Of Stockton Hosting The Lions Club
The Stockton Host Lions Club was founded 100 years ago in 1920. During the century they have been in business they have had 100 presidents, one per year. Blair Hake has been the treasurer for many years, and now for this historic centenary occasion he has been elected president. Way to go, Blair! The Stockton club is the second oldest Lions Club in California and helped start many other Lions Clubs in the area.
His coronation was held at the Faso Estate in Riviera Cliffs on a cool Saturday evening. The bar was open and the drink de jour was the appletini. I must admit they were very tasty and popular; it was hard to limit myself to one but I managed to. Presently, we filed out to the meadow in the front yard where we dined on delicious steak, pasta, salad and for dessert some excellent cupcakes topped with a thick layer of frosting. They were so good I managed to snag and eat Fred Weibel’s when he wasn’t looking.
Blair’s parents Bob and Betty were there, along with the beautiful Mary Martin Hake. Also, Blair’s brother Chris and his lovely wife Carrie were in attendance. Bob Hake is a past president of the Stockton Rotary Club, and a very popular and well-known Stockton business person. Being outsiders Sue and I did not really understand the arcane ceremony, but it seemed to involve plenty of mirth and wacky gifts. The Lions are involved in many community service projects in Stockton, everything from leadership training to recycling and plenty more.
Cabin Fever Fishing Derby
The Ebony Boat Club held a virtual fishing derby in late June. You could fish about anywhere in the state from 0600 hours to 1600 hours. You just had to take a photo of your fish next to a ruler and send it to Staff Commodore Frank Whitehead. They had a tie for first place, for two tickets to the 2021 Jazz and Wine Festival and a “Cabin Fever Fishing Derby” trophy. The winners were Pam McCoy who caught a 15.75-inch stripper, and Richard Jones who caught a 15.75-inch catfish. Second place medal winner was also Pam McCoy with a 12-inch striper, and third place medal winner was Otis Brock with a 9-inch black bass. Congratulations to all.
“The Ebony Youth Foundation was also a winner today with a total of $600 donated by those who participated, as well as those who just wanted to make a contribution. It was a fun day, and we need to continue to do things to keep the club active and members out on the water.” Thanks to Carol Whitehead and Maria Gutiérrez for this input.
Stephens Yacht Rendezvous
Many historic Stephens boats are lined up to visit Village West Marina for the rendezvous on Sept 11, 12 and 13 to honor Dick Stephens on his 100th birthday. In addition to the boats, there will be a presentation of Stephens history by Rusty Areias at the Village West Yacht Club on Saturday afternoon the 12th. At some point, we will make contact with Dick to wish him a happy birthday. There will be a dinner for participants on Saturday evening at the yacht club. For information, contact me at email@example.com
Classic Yacht Association
There are a lot of significant birthdays and anniversaries in 2020. This is the 50th anniversary of the Classic Yacht Association as a corporation. Papers were signed on Oct 24, 1970. Bob Ekoos, the first commodore of the club owned a sister ship to my boat. Alicita was a 36-foot twin engine Stephens. They renamed her Banquero which is Spanish for banker. Eventually Bob sold her to the Hanst family who renamed her Stacy Lynn, and moved her to the Delta. They participated in many events and cruised all over the Delta during their tenure. The last I heard about Stacy Lynn she was in a private collection in Charlevoix, Michigan.
Everywhere I go it seems the marinas are filling up. Several local marinas are at over 90 percent capacity. Yacht brokers say business is great, the best it has been in over a decade. A boat is an excellent place to maintain social distance and have fun at the same time. Russ Gunter, an old friend from my IBM days 30 years ago moved in three slips down from me at Ox Bow. Calvin Jones took the slip across from me with his new to him Regal Commodore. Another few slips away from me Rick and Judy Iano moved in with a Uniflite they are restoring. The boat looks brand new and they are here almost every day working on her.
The waterways of the Delta cover five counties and each county has slightly different rules. If you are planning to go somewhere it would not hurt to call ahead and make sure the establishment is open. At this writing, it appears most local marinas are open and launch ramps are available. I am seeing a lot of boats out there so it looks like the fun is still going on.
As I approach my deadline, we are a few days away from Independence Day. Even though the Hilton Fireworks Extravaganza has been postponed until September, plenty of people tell me they are headed to Mandeville Tip for a party anyway. We should have some more photos for the next issue.
I attended another virtual meeting of the Stakeholder Engagement Committee on June 24th. It seems the members representing the Delta have developed a welcome new militancy. It looks like the Delta Construction Authority has decided on the eastern alignment for the tunnel. The two intakes are still planned for Hood which will destroy the town.
The question came up about what to do with the recycled toxic muck (RTM) that will come out of the tunnels. Finding a place to put this waste has been a question ever since the Bay Delta Canal Plan was being pushed a decade ago. Now the DCA folks are saying that it will be reused in the project and they will actually have to import more soil to complete it. Graham Bradner, who is the levees/forebay lead on the project says that there will be between six and 15 million cubic yards of RTM generated by the project, but they will actually need 20 million cubic yards so they will have to import another five million yards of material. They are planning to dump a lot of the RTM along Twin Cities Road, apparently. There are allegations that there are Indian artifacts in the area and possibly a burial ground.
One of the questions that has come up numerous times is, what is the chemical nature of the soil conditioner that will be used to lubricate the blades of the tunnel boring machines. So far there has not been a straight answer. There has been talk of detergent or bentonite. It seems like it would be important to know exactly what the additive is to make sure it is safe around humans and animals.
You probably know that the Department of Water Resources is the largest electricity user in the state. This project will increase that usage. There was a discussion of where they will get electrical service for the project. The DCA folks said they might get electricity from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD.) I am a SMUD residential customer in Sacramento. We were faced with brownouts a few years back; I am not sure they have any juice to spare for this project.
Leland Frayseth via another Public Record Request discovered that Jerry Brown (not the governor) former Contra Costa Water District General Manager “is now Executive Director for Sites Reservoir at a rate of $33,750 monthly. I am pretty sure they are passing that through to the California Water Commission Water Storage Investment Program Proposition 1, which is borrowed bond money as you know.” Leland sent a copy of an invoice showing that Brown’s Firm Waterology Consulting is paying the $33,750 per month. Other items on the invoice summary were: Trapasso Consulting Services at $28,000 per month and Spesert Consulting a “Business Communications Manager” for $21,320 per month. We are starting to talk real money here folks!
Gary Kremen is vice chairperson of the Delta Conveyance Finance Authority and is also on the board of directors of the Santa Clara Valley Water District. He recently wrote an op-ed titled “A Social Justice Perspective of The Delta Tunnel Project.” It is filled with misinformation and half-truths, most of which have been debunked multiple times over the last several years.
Among other things he says: “The levees that make up California’s water distribution system in the Delta are not engineered to withstand major earthquakes. There is a high probability of a major earthquake within the next 25 years which could cause catastrophic levee failure that would result in seawater inundation, interrupting freshwater deliveries to more than 27 million people. In a catastrophic levee failure, who stands to be hurt the most? Not the affluent, as we have seen in this COVID-19 crisis; they have second homes, alternative sources of food and access to healthcare. It would hurt poor, working class and middle-class people the worst.” Okay, let’s review one more time, in history there has never been a Delta levee failure because of an earthquake. If there is ever an earthquake on any known fault line that is severe enough to cause a levee failure, the cities and infrastructure in the East Bay and beyond will be destroyed with catastrophic loss of human life. Levee failure would be a minor consideration if they indeed failed.
My friend and fellow activis, Nicky Suard made a trip to Sherman Island in 2011 when some “UCLA engineering scientists did a test on Sherman Island and they could not get their fake levee made for the test to fail (editors note – the machine actually broke down but the levee held). On Aug 8, 2012, more tests were conducted on a fake levee constructed in the middle of Sherman Island which made the ground move as the equipment monitored the movement effect on the layers of peat below the fake levee. The scientists there said they believe the deep of Sherman Island (deepest area of the Delta) makes the motion from an earthquake intensify in waves, rather than diffuse over an area.” Dr. Bob Pike, who is actually an expert on geology and seismology confirmed his belief of just the opposite – that Delta peat soil may act as a cushion or absorber of the energy force from an earthquake. The fact remains, there has never been a Delta levee failure because of an earthquake. If you look online for Delta earthquakes, you will find most of the doomsayers use pretty much the same verbiage as Gary Kreman uses.
The bottom line here is that California is essentially bankrupt. We need to curtail the boondoggles and use what revenue we have to provide services to our citizens. This is no joke, there will be a snowball effect, businesses will die, they will no longer be able to pay taxes to support our civil servants and then things will really begin to fall apart worse than what we are seeing now.
The Caltrans disaster in the Delta has gotten worse. Many local folks suspect these problems are allowed to continue as it will help stop visitors from coming to the Delta and help to drive residents out. This of course would reduce the outcry against the water barons, and allow them more of a freehand to carry out their plan to remove more water from the Delta. This is really great for the summer recreation season. The Three Mile Slough Bridge is unable to open for boats for the near future. The Rio Vista Bridge seems to effect intermittent gridlock for no particular reason. The Real McCoy and J-Mack ferry boats break down so much you can’t even keep track of the malfunctions. The J-Mack seemed to be working fine for many years until recently when apparently they have a shortage of operators. Here is my fix: train enough operators so the boat can be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, also train a few backup operators to cover for vacations and illness. The Real McCoy II seems to have had problems from day one and they seem to mostly be hydraulic related. Let’s hire a team of professional marine surveyors to go over the craft and bring on a professional hydraulic engineer to figure out the problems and get them fixed.
Jay Sorensen was probably the best fisherman in the Delta or at least among the top five. He began fishing in the Stockton Area in 1946. He became one of the most popular and expert fishing guides in the region. His living room was filled with awards and trophies that he received over the years. Jay was a walking history book of the decline of fish species over the years. He was a tireless fighter working to stop the water barons that are trying to destroy the Delta. He founded the California Striped Bass Association back in the 1970s when he realized that excessive water exports from the Delta were endangering the fish population. When Jay was president the club attracted 400 members before it opened other chapters. He was one of the top fishing guides to ever operate in the Delta. I was honored to accompany Jay to many events over the last decade or two. He was loved and recognized wherever he went. We had lunch together from time to time until his throat cancer got so bad that he could only take liquid nourishment. Jay was a charming person who attracted people wherever he went. He was an active member of the Delta Chambers & Visitor’s Bureau and came to the monthly mixers whenever he was able to. Jay wrote the “Let’s Go Fishing” column for the Rio Vista News Herald until they went out of business earlier this year. He also wrote the fishing blog for the Delta Chambers website for close to 15 years.
Jay received the Hal Schell award in 2015 for his efforts to continue to better the Delta. In January of 2019 at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition he was inducted into the California Outdoor Hall of Fame joining the likes of John Muir, Ansel Adams, Tom Stienstra, Carole Latimer, Il Ling New, Dan Bacher, Roy Weatherby and many other luminaries that have contributed to the California Outdoors Experience. The California Outdoors Hall of Fame honors the achievements of distinguished outdoorsmen and women for their lifelong dedication to advancing understanding of, appreciation for and conservation of California’s great outdoors. A few years back he knew the end was approaching and told Dan Bacher and yours truly that he expected us to continue his work to stop the destruction of the Delta. Dan and I both agreed to carry out Jay’s wishes. I was always telling Jay that I thought he might be targeted for assassination by the water exporters, but he died of natural causes.
Clare and Dave Spensley were popular, well-known folks in Isleton for years. They were some of the lawn people at Korth’s Pirates Lair. They helped for years as volunteers at events put on by the Delta Chambers. We were sad when they moved to Florida several years back. Clare advises that Dave has crossed over the bar. From Clare: “Dave Spensley, 1938-2020. Dave who was a life member of Holiday Isles Elks 1912 passes into eternity to join the angels on June 20th. He lived in the Seminole area for the past 15 years, having come here from California with the love of his life Clare, his partner and wife of 46 years.
“He was born in Waterloo, Iowa, Feb 13, 1938, and lived in the Midwest until he was 30 working with his father at their dry cleaning business operations. His parents were D. J. and Harriett, and he was an only child. He graduated from West High in Waterloo in 1956 and attended the University of Miami, Coral Gables with a degree in psychology. He went on to get a master’s degree in the same field at Georgetown University.
“He moved to California where he met Clare in 1974. She had been traveling all over the world and he was working for a chemical company. She took several trips before they settled down and married. Dave and Clare partnered in many business ventures, including selling equipment for and building dry cleaning plants. They spent many years in yacht clubs and owned seven different boats including a 30-foot sloop and a very fast offshore single engine called Megabyte. Much of their leisure time was spent in the California Delta on the water with friends. The last few years in Florida they ventured into other activities and joined several veteran organizations, as Dave enthusiastically supported causes that support our heroic vets. He and Clare were volunteers at Holiday Isles when they first moved to Florida and enjoyed helping the 1912 BPOE with parties and events. Dave would hope that you do an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for some poor unfortunate soul in his name – it could even involve some scotch!”
Dave and Linda Breninger made a trip to South Lake Tahoe. They paid a visit to the historic grounds of the home known as Valhalla at Camp Richardson. Dave advises that “for all the previous times we’ve walked the historic area, I missed seeing the few remains of the old Lake Tahoe vessel Todd Goodwin. There is a nice plaque there but little to show of the glory days of the old vessel – only steel work of her prop, shaft, engine and bow and a bit of chain. Attached are a few photos to share of what’s left of her.
“Since the park was closed, I didn’t have an opportunity to learn where the vessel originated or any details other than those shown on the plaque. And, no idea as to the years she plied the water of Tahoe.” I have been to Vahalla too and I do not remember seeing any remains. Maybe an intrepid reader might have some information. According to the plaque the motor weighed 7,700 pounds!
Cindy Breninger has checked in with a new macro lens for her camera. She is now spending her free time taking photos of ants and other tiny creatures, along with some beautiful close ups of flowers. I think with the quarantine still going on Cindy has found some creative and fun outlets. We will wait for her book.
We had a fun evening at the King Island Marina Bar & Grill with the Delta Chambers monthly mixer. They have gone all out to fix the place up inside and out. The servers are very attentive and no one went thirsty. They served a buffet feast that had folks coming back for seconds and thirds. Check out the Friday night dinners with entrees like halibut, prime rib, linguini & clams. They are open for breakfast and lunch every day. You can come by boat or car just out on Eight Mile Road in Stockton. They have a big outdoor patio so you can maintain social distance if needed.
If you feel you have been sequestered in your home too long and feel like you need some exercise, sign up for a class at the Delta Sculling Center located at Riverpoint Landing in Stockton. Give them a call at 209/607-9876.
Keep an eye out for the “Unleashed” Poker Run coming up on Aug 28. Jill Faso Antonini, Jerry Wolfe, Dan Bouchard and Blair Hake are planning this great summer event!
Tell me what you are doing on your summer vacation. 916/869-9141 or firstname.lastname@example.org