May 30, 2005

Did you know that the town of Sunol has an advisory group that works as a liaison between the citizens and the Alameda County Planning Commission? Most of us in this tiny town are not aware of that little known fact. Organized in 1989 by the late, former Alameda County Supervisor Ed Campbell, the Sunol Citizens Advisory Committee is appointed by the acting county supervisor. The appointment has a 12-year term limit and whenever there is a vacancy, residents may submit their personal/professional resume to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to request a position on the committee.

The primary function of the group is to advise the county when dealing with issues regarding but not limited to zoning restriction, out of the ordinary property variances and adding or enlarging a home or building. But the group mainly gives the town a voice in our county.

The group, which meets at Sunol Glen School, has no regular meetings but is usually called by the county for special circumstances meetings or whenever a Public Notice of a meeting is posted. The county sends committee members agenda items, which include background information, general use blueprints, or plans and what is requested by the land or homeowner. Following Roberts Rules of Order, the group meets, does research if necessary, makes a motion to accept, reject or modify, a discussion follows, and then they vote on the subject matter. Their recommendation is then submitted to the planning commission and the county supervisors.

Sunol Citizens Advisory Committee Chairperson, Irvin Tiessen said, "I feel that it is a necessary tool if the town of Sunol is ever going to build an acceptable general plan for the town's future".

Current committee members are: Assistant Chairperson, Dan Reasor, Joan Hall, Maryanne Canaparo and Dimitris Kastriotis.

Grab your camera, oh and the kids too, for Niles Canyon Railways exhibition of model trains, Al McCracken, Chief Station Agent, will be displaying two of his "G gauge" model trains in the baggage room of the Sunol Depot every Sunday in June.

Al's trains are a little larger in scale than your average model trains, standing 6 inches high and 24 inches long. His trains also include a sound system and knobs and levers that allow the kids, with adult supervision, to operate. "They are kid proof", says Al.

Al belongs to the Bay Area Garden Railway Society, which has boasts a membership of 500. Members hold monthly open house displays of their trains and have offered to assist during the month long Sunol Depot exhibit. Best of all, this exhibit is free.

A model train enthusiast since 1992, Al is also an avid stamp collector but he said his grandkids were not interested in stamp collecting and he said, ""I had to get a hobby that the grandkids would enjoy". Model trains were just the beginning of Al's love of trains. He soon acquired a speeder car, which is actually a railroad motorcar formerly used by track crew members and then his interest turned to the real thing, big trains, when he became involved with the Niles Canyon Railway.

Our neighbors in the Niles community are planning a special tribute to Charlie Chaplin on Saturday in their downtown area. Local business will be displaying Charlie Chaplin memorabilia during the day and the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum & Theater on Niles Blvd. will be showing a special silent movies featuring Chaplin that were filmed in 1915 during the afternoon and evening. Another little known fact is that the Niles and Sunol areas were used as the scene for several silent movies before the movie studios relocated to Southern California.

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