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Barry Schrader


I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;

  • Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
  • Valley Times : Do You Remember?
  • The Independent : Do You Remember?

The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.

They will also be found on this page each week as well.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

Archive Page

The Tri-Valley's community college turns 30

By Barry Schrader.................................March 31, 2005

It was 30 years ago this week that those 147 acres of rolling hills off Collier Canyon Road became a college campus. Since that time thousands of students-young and old-have enjoyed the educational opportunities afforded there and gone on to higher education, new careers and a better life because of what they gained there.
The college was first called Chabot College Valley Campus, but then in 1988 became a full-fledged community college-Las Positas College. Then four years later it was fully-accredited as California's 107th community college.
Four original staff members are still there, and deserve special mention. They are Don Milanese, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Linda Peifer, an administrative assistant (first switchboard operator), Maria Elena Pellinen, philosophy and foreign language instructor, and Sophie Reinheimer, physical education instructor and current Faculty Senate president. And of course the founding Dean, Barbara Mertes, has now "graduated" (retired) and is currently president of the Chabot-Las Positas Board of Trustees.
Another person who was there at the start, Marshall Drummond of the business faculty, moved on to become the head of the Los Angeles Community College District, and is now chancellor of the entire California Community College system.
Milanese reminisced with me over the 128 names suggested for the new college and that list was culled to 11 finalists. They were--in addition to Las Positas-Alisal, Altamont, Canyon Hills, Collier Canyon, Del Valle, Golden Hills, Jack London, Kingsbury, Tri-Valley, and Valley View. How well I remember…I was on the board of trustees at the time-and lobbied hard to get it named after Jack London-but the vote was 4 to 3 in favor of Las Positas, which was the name of Robert Livermore's original rancho in the valley and loosely translated from Spanish, means "little springs." I had even encouraged the college's public information chief Kim Huggett to go to the post office and buy up all the Jack London commemorative stamps, which had been issued earlier that year. I owe him something for all those stamps-he may still be using them on Christmas cards!
Barbara Mertes also reminded me why the college had the reputation of being the cleanest and the grounds pristine. A man named Babe Castillo was in charge of maintaining the campus and treated it like his own yard and home. Babe was even known to come up behind a student who had just dropped a Kleenex or gum wrapper and say "Pick it up…" Then there was Marge O'Leary, the Dean's exectuive secretary, who was unequalled in her efficiency and caring attitude. These were the kind of people who made the new institution seem like one big family.
Mertes also recalled the support they received from the community. The Livermore Lions Club was the first service club to sponsor a scholarship, plus giving money for the founding plaque, which can be found in the inner quad today. Families like the Graham Nissens have been generous benefactors to the college with their gifts. Sandia National Labs offered an early scholarship tied to summer employment for the winners, and the two local Labs spawned adjunct faculty over the years that added greatly to the quality of education students received.
So it was a great day 30 years ago when we got our own college in the valley, and the tradition of educational excellence continues to this day. I hope residents will join them in celebrating the occasion when they hold an open house for the community April 16.
For the record, here are the names of the original 1975 faculty: Jerry Ball, Roy Bidwell, Joe Downs, Marshall Drummond, Esther Goldberg, Jack Healey, Henry Hoey, Maurice Ngo, Ellen Owen, Maria Pellenen, Judy Porta, Sophie Rheinheimer, Dee Roshong, George Ann Tow, Bruce Werner, and David Wright.
The founding administrative and classified staff also deserve recognition: Inez Barrious, Irv Batz, Kathryn Benapfl, Sally Canchola, Charles Correia, Babe Castillo, Charles Dean, Angela Dotson, Robin Harrod, Linda Lucas, Joan MacIsaac, Virginia MacCrossen, Judy McMurray, Marge O'Leary, Linda Peifer, Linda Perreira, Margaret Raisner, Barbara Silvia, Carol Speed, and Shirley West.

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There is no "history mystery" question this week as I am going away for a long weekend and won't be back in time to include the answers in next week's column.

The columnist can be reached via email at :


or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551

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