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Ted Meriam

Est. 1983 | Clayton, CA

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Thumbs Up for Charter School 
By Denisen Hartlove | January 27, 2012
It’s approved! Following months of legal wrangling, a PR war from both sides, and at least a small forest worth of paper, at a meeting packed with over 400 people, the Contra Costa County Board of Education overturned the MDUSD’s denial, and unanimously approved the Clayton Valley High School charter petition.
Cynthia Ruehlig, President of the Contra Costa County Board of Education, described her logic in voting for the petition as simply following the law. “It’s like innocent until proven guilty,” she said. “It’s approved until you can say why it will not succeed. That’s part of the educational system here in California.”
The school is expected to open as a charter for the fall 2012 semester, making it one of only two charter schools in the district, and one of three conversion charters in the entire Bay Area.
Sherry Whitmarsh, who recently replaced Gary Eberhart as president of the MDUSD Board of Education was pragmatic. “It is what it is,” she commented immediately after the vote. “Hopefully the charter will work with the district so that the other students in the district will be held harmless.” According to charter steering committee member David Shuey, that’s their intention.
“We want to reach out and heal the wounds,” he said at a recent Clayton City Council meeting, suggesting the charter may form a committee that would meet with the school board and city representatives a couple of times a year to iron out issues. “We want to take the high road.”
Questions still remain as to the amount of money some claim the charter will siphon from the rest of the district. The estimates range from $1.7 million to over $4 million. At the county meeting, however, Superintendent Steven Lawrence said that the financial impact of the charter is as yet undetermined. “We believe at the end of the day, at the end of the first year we will know all of the funding impact of the charter,” he said. Now that the hurdle of approval has been overcome, charter organizers have a long to-do list before opening as a charter in fall 2012. The twelve conditions set by the county in its approval include a summer transition program including specific targeted instruction for English learners, a revised student expulsion policy and proof of the charter’s $2 million line of credit.
Charter school organizer Neil McChesney remained unfazed. “There’s a ton of work to do,” he said. “We realize the scope of work is massive, but there are so many people jumping on board and ready to lend a hand, it’s amazing. I have no fear that we won’t accomplish all of our tasks and do a better job than ever before.”
In addition to county requirements, the task of finding an executive director to guide the school looms large. The nationwide search process has already begun with the job description posted on various job boards. According to McChesney, within 48 hours of posting, the committee tasked with finding the executive director was already receiving resumes.
“We’re looking for a dynamic individual who’s got experience. A people person, a good communicator and a leader,” said McChesney. ”Someone who people will want to follow... and someone who inspires other people to lead, as well.”
Meanwhile, Clayton Mayor Howard Geller is ecstatic over what the future holds for the community overall.
“With the support of such a strong alumni and community, the transformation of CVHS has begun,” he said. “I have 100 percent confidence in the charter school’s board, and can’t wait for the ribbon cutting of our new charter school.”


Mayor Shuey, Meriam Among CVCHS Governing Board Candidates 
By Patrick Creaven | August 26, 2011
Clayton Valley Charter High School's governing board might have some familiar faces.
Clayton Mayor David Shuey and former planning commissioner Ted Meriam submitted applications for the community member seats on CVCHS's nine-member board. The board will make policy decisions, including appointing the executive director, for the new school.
It's not the first time Shuey and Meriam have competed for a seat. The two ran for the City Council in 2010, with the incumbent Shuey finishing first in the four-person race for two seats. Meriam finished third.
In total, 18 people submitted applications to sit on CVCHS's board. The board will comprise of...keep reading.

Councilwoman Pierce is too close for comfort to downtown Clayton
by Ted Meriam | July 31, 2011

Over the past month I have been working with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) with regards to my questioned conflict of interest with the Clayton Community Church project in downtown Clayton (see article below). While preparing to follow-up with the FPPC, I again reviewed my Potential Conflict of Interest Zones Map provided by the City of Clayton when I became a Planning Commissioner. Looking at the map, I recalled that Councilwoman Pierce purchased a new home on Tiffin Drive in May of 2008. This property is also located on my map, as noted below in red:

Potential Conflict of Interest Zones Map for Councilwoman Julie Pierce and Ted Meriam

Councilwoman Julie Pierce's house (P) in relation to former Planning Commissioner Ted Meriam's house (M) in downtown Clayton.


As you see from the map, Councilwoman Pierce’s house is not much further from the Clayton Community Church project site than my own home. Likewise, there are ample public parking spaces at Mt. Diablo Elementary. On Sunday, the Clayton Community Church and their congregants would have access to vacant parking spaces distributed between Mt. Diablo Elementary’s back parking lot and street parking surrounding the school, which provides easy access across a footbridge from the campus to downtown Clayton. I can certainly see congregants utilizing this parking during Church events, much like the parking is used for downtown events such as the 4th of July, Art & Wine, Oktoberfest, etc.


Removing church vehicles from downtown Clayton would provide greater access to parking for patrons of our merchants and restaurants. While less congestion would potentially be good for downtown Clayton, Councilwoman Pierce and the surrounding neighborhoods around Mt. Diablo Elementary would be impacted.


Based on this map, shouldn't Julie Pierce be held to the same standards that she expects others to be held to? Due to this demand for parking, Councilwoman Pierce should consider the same Materially Standard finding from the FPPC that prompted my removal from the Clayton Planning Commission:

Step 5: Materially Standard

For real property that is not directly involved in a governmental decision, Regulation 18705.2(b)(1) provides that the financial effect of a governmental decision on real property is presumed not to be material. That presumption may be rebutted with proof of specific circumstances regarding the governmental decision and its effect. Examples of such circumstances include the character of the neighborhood, including effects on traffic, view, privacy, intensity of use, noise levels, air emissions or similar traits. Regulation 18705.2(b)(1).

Given the size and scope of this project, the potential impact from an increase in automobiles and people, and the potential change of the character of the surrounding neighborhoods, it seems the presumption of immateriality is rebutted regarding decisions involving the building of the church structure, even though it will be more than 500 feet from your property. FPPC File No. I-10-203

Councilwoman Pierce must recuse herself from future opportunities to make decisions on the Clayton Community Church project until she receives clarification from the FPPC. While I understand how the policy was applied to me, in such a similar case, it's only logical that it also be applied to Councilwoman Pierce.


The Clayton Community Church project has the potential to change the footprint of downtown Clayton. Therefore, we must have unbiased decision makers determining the future of our town (this project is unable to go before the voters due to law). As an elected city official who has 20% of the City Council's vote, Councilwoman Pierce must evaluate her position on this project before acting on behalf of the public. 


Meriam Reflects on Being Ousted from Planning Commision, Looks to the Future
by Ted Meriam | July 20, 2011

For the past two years I've had the pleasure of serving the public as a Clayton Planning Commissioner, considering land-use issues in our town.  This was my first stint as a government official and has been an opportunity to give back to a community I deeply love.
As a child growing up in Clayton, I had the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of a Planning Commission’s labor long ago.  I witnessed the results of thoughtful development as downtown Clayton evolved and neighborhoods were established.  The town has retained its unique charm while striving to meet the needs of a modern society.  I wanted to help create the next chapter in Clayton's deep history.
My desire to return to my home town prompted me to purchase a house close the heart of our community.  As one of the younger homeowners in Clayton,  I represent the future generation of citizens in the City of Clayton.  And now my home ownership near downtown Clayton seemingly impedes my ability to serve the public.
The Clayton Community Church has a project currently before the Planning Commission, which if approved, will change the footprint of downtown Clayton.  As city officials, we are appointed or elected to serve at the pleasure of the public.  Therefore, public opinion means everything.  And when there is potential conflict of interest in political life, the public becomes concerned (rightfully so).
As someone who lives so close to downtown Clayton and likewise the Clayton Community Church project, objections have been raised about my potential conflict of interest.  So, in December 2010, I asked the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to review my situation.  They ruled that since I did not live within the 500 feet of the Church project, there was not a material conflict of interest.  However, since the Church is asking to use downtown parking spaces within 500 feet of my home, the character of my neighborhood may change and I therefore may have a financial conflict.  I submitted this finding to the City of Clayton on March 24, 2011 and did not hear anything more on the issue...
Until 9:48am the morning of my interview to renew my seat on the Planning Commission. That's when Councilwoman Julie Pierce called me to investigate my potential conflict on the Clayton Community Church project.  She asked me to provide her with the correspondence between the FPPC and me, which I promptly offered to her. 
At 2:21pm, City Manager Gary Napper forwarded the City Council and me an email from our City Attorney, which expressed concern about one area of the Fair Political Practices Commission's findings on my situation.  Two hours later I was standing before the City Council defending my ability to serve as a Clayton Planning Commissioner.
It’s unfortunate that neither Councilwoman Pierce nor the City Council provided me with a timely opportunity to respond to the concern about my potential conflict of interest on the Clayton Community Church project.  With a 4-1 vote (Councilman Medrano supported me staying on the Commission), my term in office had ended effective June 30, 2011.
I have always held the position that while acting as a public official, one must set biases aside and serve in the best interest in the community.  Therefore, holding myself accountable, I am seeking clarification from the Fair Political Practices Commission on my potential conflict on this project. 

At the end of the day, however, this matter is not about me.  This is about the ability of our community and government to consider, in a fair and open-minded manner, a vital development project before us.  I love this community and would not want politics to impede important matters before the public.  So for the timing being, I step aside as a City Planning Commissioner and encourage the Clayton community to get involved in determining the future of our town.

I wish the Planning Commission and City Staff the best in the road ahead and thank you for all for what you have taught me over the past two years.

Ted Meriam wins 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award for Young Alumni Service
Univesity of Puget Sound | Arches Alumni Magazine
For his dedication to alumni at the University of Puget Sound and his community, Ted Meriam '05 was recently named the recipient of the 2011 Young Alumni Service Award by the University of Puget Sound.  The annual international award is presented to a graduate of the last decade who has made significant contributions to creating programs that bring young alumni together, that familiarize young alumni and students with the alumni association, and that encourage class identification.

A Clayton, Calif., native, Ted Meriam is a graduate of the Business Leadership Program and currently works as a Technical Account Manager at Microsoft.  While at Puget Sound, Ted was an admission tour guide, a member of the SPURS and Mortar Board honor societies, a member of the Jewish Student Organization, and a reporter for The Trail.  Named the first ASUPS director of technology services in 2004, he additional served as the chief justice of the ASUPS Honor Court, the president of the Film and Theatre Society, and was a member of the ASUPS Governance Committee and the university Budget Task Force.  Ted enjoyed performing in the University Chorale as a novice singer.  He received the Norton Clapp Arete Award as a graduating senior.

In his short time since his commencement, Ted had held several alumni volunteer positions (and never fewer than three concurrently).  He participated on the Alumni Council as a reunion volunteer for the Class of 2005, was a Career & Employment Services member, a class agent for the Class of 2005, an Alumni Sharing Knowledge Network volunteer, and a San Francisco alumni club volunteer.  He recently assumed the Alumni Council leadership position of West Coast Coordinator for Regional Alumni Clubs.  His work on the council has focused largely on galvanizing younger alumni to give both their time and treasure to beloved Puget Sound. Ted also has been active in his hometown as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Clayton, as founder of the P2C Foundation, and as president of the Clayton Historical Society and Museum.


Clayton Gardens Tour features six stops and variety sizes, types of landscaping
Concord Transcript
By Nanci L. Valcke
Posted: 04/27/2011 12:43:39 PM PDT


No green thumb is necessary to view the half-dozen diverse gardens featured on the 19th annual Clayton Gardens Tour.


"We try to get a variety," said Linda Cruz, chairwoman of the tour publicity committee. "We have three in Clayton and three in Concord, all within a five-mile radius."


Choosing which gardens will be on the tour is not always an easy task, as the number is limited and the committee always looks for one big garden, a small garden -- and most importantly for this water-rationed area -- one that is drought-tolerant, said tour chairwoman JoAnn Caspar.


Each year, landscape artist Nicole Hachette of R&M Pool Patio & Gardens proposes gardens for the committee to submit for the tour. This year there were nine submissions, but some years there have been as many as 15. Casper said those not selected this time will probably be on the tour next year.


The tour begins at the Clayton Historical Museum. Tickets are printed on the back of the brochure that not only contains a map for the self-guided tour, but has a description by Hackette of each garden. A different flower marks each garden on the tour.



Last year more than 300 people attended the garden tour -- the museum's biggest fundraiser -- and about $8,000 was raised. Caspar expects to have about the same number of people attend this year.


"At one time we had 700," recalled Caspar, "but now there are so many garden tours. Next year, we'll have been doing it for 20 years."

Longtime volunteer, and tour co-chairwoman, Linda Pinder's garden is the smallest and the last on the tour. She owns a Chaparral Springs townhouse with a garden about 800 square feet.


"I am the original landowner," said Pinder.


Since 1994 when she bought her home, eucalyptus trees and California pepper trees have grown tall, casting shadows over her small yard and creating challenges to find flowers that prefer shade to sun.


"It's a lot of trial and error," Pinder said.


And perseverance. She recalled planting one species three times with the help of a Master Gardener friend, who will be on site to answer any questions visitors may have.


"There will be a Master Gardener at each site to answer questions," Pinder said. "Two homeowners are Master Gardeners and they recruited eight friends who are also Master Gardeners to be docents."


In addition to showing off her small garden, Pinder is opening her home, serving refreshments and showing off her quilts.  "I'll have 20. There will be 15 inside," she said. "The others will be outside on the fence."


In May 1998, Pinder completed her first quilt. Since then, she has made 135. Most of them she has given to friends and family as gifts, and she made a special garden-themed one for a tour raffle.


Those on the tour can buy raffle tickets for a selection of prizes donated by local businesses, which are available at the museum. Tickets are $1 each or six tickets for $5. All money raised will be used for the museum's Native and Historic Plant Garden.


Last year, the museum -- with help from the Clayton Valley Garden Club and the Volunteer Center of the East Bay -- completed the first phase of its interactive education resource for elementary students visiting from Clayton and Concord schools, noted Steve Lane, vice president of the Diablo Valley Garden Club, in its newsletter.


In phase one, the historical society received a $200 grant from the Volunteer Center of the East Bay, along with volunteers, to help plant the Native American garden.


In phase two, for which this year's garden tour funds will be used, the California native plant garden will be established, which serves as an educational demonstration of landscaping that requires little or no additional irrigation.


Phase three is the historical streetscape garden and will preserve the historical atmosphere of Clayton.


The historical society is the steward of the museum its surrounding grounds, and it was Clayton Museum Historical Society president Ted Meriam and curators Renee Wing and Mary Spryer who had the vision to turn the garden into something useful for the community.


Learn more about the Clayton Gardens Tour and purchase tickets.



Where the Past Meets the Future 

By Charleen Earley  
Posted: 1/4/2011

"New" and "fresh" are not adjectives that typically come to mind when you hear the word "museum," but that’s not the case at the Clayton Historical Society and Museum, now firmly planted on Main Street’s soil.


Originally built on Keller Ranch, near the Clayton Community Library, this 31-year-old museum – said to be the home of Joel Clayton – is divided into several sections, one of which showcases a revolving exhibit of artifacts and collectibles, hence the new and fresh.


Ted Meriam, president of the Clayton Historical Society and Museum, said Clayton residents bring in seasonal or thematic artifacts to display on a quarterly basis.


A “Stitch in Time” has been up since Sept. 19, thanks to Kathleen Calhan, a Sunnyvale resident who is married to Charles Calhan, Joel Clayton’s great-grandson. She might keep it up for a week or two into the new year.


Her collection includes clamps, needles, scissors, pins, pin cushions, spools, sewing birds, darners, sewing kits, thimble cases and sewing machines.


“All objects are on loan,” Meriam said. “The displays are changed constantly, every three to four months. We rarely have repeats of displays.”


One room in the museum has photos of Clayton’s pioneers, another focuses on businesses in the town's past. A kitchen area highlights housekeeping and cooking collectibles from the early 1700s to the 1800s, and a kid’s hands-on section is full of typewriters and communication devices of yesteryear.


Mary Spryer, a Clayton resident since 1994, is the museum’s curator. She says she loves her volunteer job.


“I think it's interesting to actually see the history of the place where you live. Our little house museum is really a treasure; many communities much larger in size don't have a museum at all,” said Spryer, who holds a bachelor of arts degree in history.


“The citizens of Clayton are very lucky that there were people who, over 40 years ago, were forward-thinking enough to save our museum building from being demolished and who raised the money to move it to its current location and renovate it.”


Meriam, a Clayton native who returned home after college, said he enjoys donating his time to recalling the past because it affects the future.


“I love it. It gives me an interest in history and I like being around people of the past,” Meriam said. “It’s very important to honor our past along with moving forward so we can meet the needs of our future residents. This organization gives me that opportunity.”


During Meriam’s first year as president, he and his board of 16 directors achieved the goals they set for 2010, including increasing membership and building fund-raising opportunities.


One of their newest fund raisers, a Clayton Christmas Home Tour, made $3,000.


“We had 200 people come through — it blew out our expectations!” said Meriam, who works for Microsoft. “2010 was a foundational year for us, where we focused on policies, procedures and putting a budget in place.”


This year’s goals will focus on extending their partnership to fourth-graders and their classroom curriculum, as is done now with third-graders, and developing the Native American plant garden.


“We also plan to deepen our relationships with our current donors and continue to grow our fund-raising base,” Meriam said.

Spryer praises the museum's volunteers: “I love the people. People who volunteer and give back to the community and help improve something outside of themselves are a special breed.”


Check the museum's website for events or visit it at 6101 Main St. For more information, call 925-672-0240.


Back to His Roots 
By David Mills
Posted: 12/22/2010

If you want a glimpse into the future of Clayton's leadership ranks, you might not have to go any farther than a historic house on Oak Street.


That's where Ted Meriam has set up camp, just a few blocks from the city's picturesque downtown.


Meriam returned to the town he grew up in two years ago, buying the Oak Street abode and diving immediately into community activism.


The 27-year-old native son serves on the Clayton Planning Commission. He's president of the Clayton Historical Society. And he volunteers for the Clayton Business and Community Association, the Clayton Valley Garden Club and the P2C Foundation.


Meriam ran for City Council in November, finishing third in a four-candidate field for two seats. Another council candidacy is almost a certainty.


"I feel it's important to give back to a community that has given so much to me," he said.


The Microsoft account manager's dedication to his community goes back two decades.


Meriam's family moved to Clayton when he was 5. He attended Mount Diablo Elementary School, where he sold ice cream and helped run the student store. At Diablo View Middle School, he sat on the Technology Planning Commission and helped allocate a $500,000 grant from the Clinton administration.


Meriam graduated from Clayton Valley High School in 2001, taking with him the Grand Altair, the school's highest award for academics, service and leadership.


JoAnn Caspar, the treasurer of the historical society, was Meriam's third-grade teacher. She remembers him as a self-assured youngster who was involved in civic activities.


"He wasn't one to play around in the mud," she recalled, "but he always had a lot of friends. He really was very much like he is today."


After graduation, Meriam left Clayton for seven years. He went to college at the University of Puget Sound and was hired by Microsoft. The company's philanthropy fit right in with Meriam's philosophy. The high-tech firm donates $17 per hour to organizations at which he volunteers.


Meriam returned to his small-town roots in 2008. He continues to work for Microsoft as a technical account manager for four Silicon Valley companies. Most of the week, he does his work from the comfort of his Oak Street residence, a house that was built in the 1800s and is on the city's historical homes tour.


"I have the best of both worlds," he said. "I work for Silicon Valley and I live in small-town America."


Meriam is strongly attached to his hometown. He calls it a "small, scrappy community" that honors its history and encourages civic involvement.

"There's something about Clayton," he said. "It has a small-town charm and it calls a lot of people back to it. The town also cherishes its historic roots and it's also a community that is intelligent and active."


Active is an apt description of Meriam the past two years.


He joined the Planning Commission in June 2009 to get involved in governmental affairs and signed up for the business association to form relationships with the town's movers and shakers.


"I value personal relationships very highly," Meriam said. "Getting involved in the community is a way to deepen those relationships."


Perhaps Meriam's strongest passion is the Clayton Historical Society. He's been on the board the past three years and is in the second year of his presidency. He believes in honoring Clayton's past as well as those who built the town.


"We really need new blood, for younger people to step up," he said. "We need to preserve the good work our town's pioneers have done."

Mary Spryer, the Clayton Museum's curator, said Meriam has been an important factor is raising money and awareness for the historical society.

"He really wants to make where he lives a better place," she said.


Caspar added that the historical society was in a bit of disarray when Meriam joined but has bounced back under his leadership.

"He helped turned that thing around," she said. "He's very personable and very capable."


Caspar said she does wish Meriam would slow down. It seems to her he's doing a lot at a young age.


Cutting back on his schedule is unlikely. Meriam said he has his eye on the 2012 council election, in which three seats will be up for grabs.


Many city leaders expect to see Meriam in a council chair in the near future.


"He's an ambitious young man who cares a lot about his community," said City Councilman Joe Medrano. "Ted is definitely a future leader here."

Meriam has one more important goal. He would like to get married and have children in his home on Oak Street.


"Clayton is an excellent community to raise a family," he said.


Clayton's first Christmas home tour an addition to spring garden event
Concord Transcript
By Lou Fancher

The Clayton Historical Society is breaking new ground by reaching into the past with its first Christmas Home Tour.


Homeowners of four of the city's residences, decorated for the holiday season, will throw open their front doors and offer a collective window onto the area's history.


Ted Meriam, whose house will be a gathering place near the end of the self-guided tour, is the president of the historical society.


"We have been running a successful garden tour for years, so we understand the process," he said. "And frankly, we needed another source of revenue for the historical society."


The nonprofit organization, run by volunteers for 35 years and dependent on donations, is struggling to remain viable. Ironically, despite the popularity of the garden tour, the museum's own garden was suffering.


"Two years ago, we decided it was a terrible mess and we needed to do something about it," said JoAnn Caspar, the society's treasurer. "We do a wonderful garden tour, so we thought we should at least have our garden look good. We hired a landscape gardener, then we found out we didn't really have the money, so we stopped."


Anna Wendorf, a landscape architect and a museum docent, created a design for the garden pro bono. But the design lay fallow until several members began to wonder if the same people who flocked to see Clayton's gorgeous gardens might like visiting the area's beautiful homes.


The seed for the first Christmas home tour was planted, and, appropriately, all proceeds will benefit the revitalized, three-step plan for upgrading the garden.


"We've already done stage one: cleaning up the garden," Caspar said. "The next two stages involve adding native plants of Mount Diablo and "teaching" plants like the ones used to make soapstone and other materials long ago. Landscaping to match the front of the museum is last. For all that, we need funds."


Caspar said the Clayton Valley Woman's Club had a home tour years ago. They quit, but people have been talking to her about it ever since.

"I thought of doing a tour of one house: a fabulous house I knew about. But when that didn't work out, we thought of doing a tour of several homes," she said.


Carmen Williams' home is one of the four private residences on the tour. Built to resemble a Western style ranch house, it had never been painted when she bought it in 1972.


Visitors can hear her stories about the property's rock outcropping, which the original owner blasted with dynamite for retaining wall material, and learn about her family's three Christmas tree tradition.


At Meriam's home, on Oak Street, desserts, coffee and tea will be served by the fireplace. As befits a historical society president, Meriam's house comes with a past; one he is eager to tell and excited to show.


"A lot of the homes on Oak street were relocated from the Black Diamond coal mining area n the late 1800s," he said. "They actually broke them into pieces and moved them down the mountain."


"The original home was a one bedroom house. There was no kitchen, because in the late 1800s you'd be cooking over a fire and you'd burn down the house.


"At one point, the Ipsen family owned the home and there's a basement hand dug by Kent Ipsen. And there's a water well 8 by 8 feet wide. The fire engines in the '40s would roll down the gravel driveway and fill up their water tanks from the well. It was essentially one of the main water sources in Clayton."


Meriam has open-ended stories too, like the mysterious china plate shards he recently discovered while vacuuming the ash track in the home's original fireplace.


With docents and homeowners stationed at each location, the tour promises a blend of mystery, myths and family traditions passed from one generation to the next.


The tour starts at the Clayton Historical Society's museum, where a map is also included with each visitor's ticket.


Home for the holidays:
  • WHAT: First Clayton Christmas Home Tour
  • WHEN: noon- 8 p.m., Dec. 10; allow 1 1/2 hours for tour
  • WHERE: Self-guided tour starts at Clayton Historical Museum, 6101 Main St.; includes museum plus four homes. Refreshments at historic residence.
  • COST: $20 per person
  • INFORMATION:; 925-672-7680 or 925-672-5061



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