Danville 2013 Year in Review: Part I

Top Danville Express headlines from local government, crimes, courts, construction and schools between January and June

2013 was another busy year in and around Danville. Here's a look back at last year's top headlines.

Note: The list is organized by the dates on which the original Danville Express stories ran.


Jan. 10: Construction crews began the installation of soundwalls along the north side of Crow Canyon Road near the Crow Canyon Country Club residential development.

Jan. 11: A Charlotte Wood Middle School student was reportedly followed on the way to school by two men in a dark blue truck with a camper shell and a significant amount of rust. The student was unharmed, and the incident prompted a police investigation.

Jan. 22: Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich joined the other Tri-Valley mayors in a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the presidential inauguration and ask federal legislators and agencies for increased funding for transportation and regional communications projects.


Feb. 4: Danville native Jason Lucash, co-founder of portable audio startup OrigAudio, was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur Magazine and The UPS Store.

Feb. 11: Former real estate agent and Danville resident Darren Wessell, 42, was charged felony counts including conspiracy, forgery, burglary, non-sufficient funds checks and filing false documentation in connection with a scheme surrounding his $1.2 million home.

Feb. 11: Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich filed papers to run for the 16th Assembly District.

Feb. 12: A male middle school student suffered minor injuries after being hit by a car while walking near the entrance to Charlotte Wood.

Feb. 13: The Danville Planning Commission gave its support to the draft 2030 General Plan.

Feb. 14: Danville police arrested Charles E. Ratazak, 25, in connection with a series of residential burglaries occurring in Danville and Blackhawk since mid-December 2012.

Feb. 20: Three people escaped injury when a 50-foot oak tree fell on their house on Alameda Diablo in unincorporated Danville.

Feb. 28: Brendan Fagen, 20, of Danville was arrested on five felony charges in connection with a residential robbery in which a Danville woman and her child were held at gunpoint.

Feb. 28: Paige Meyer was appointed as fire chief of the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District.


March 1: The BART Board of Directors voted to continue its fare increase program, which is based on inflation and goes to pay for new trains and other system improvements.

March 1: Brian Battles, 23, of Hayward was arrested after leading police on a chase that ended in collisions with other cars on Highway 24 near the Caldecott Tunnel. He was a suspect in a morning burglary at a home on Waingarth Way in Danville.

March 19: The SRVUSD completed the first of four bond sales in the Measure D bond, allowing the district to proceed with its first phase of school facilities projects.

March 20: The Danville Town Council unanimously passed the controversial 2030 General Plan, sustainability action plan and environmental impact report after years of study and several months of public discussion.

March 31: Caltrans and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority officially began construction on the Interstate 680 auxiliary lanes improvement project.


April 8: Kohlton Kumnick, a Danville resident serving a 90-day sentence for a burglary conviction, was reportedly captured hours after he escaped from the minimum-security Marsh Creek Detention Facility.

April 12: Danville's Charlotte Wood and Diablo Vista middle schools were among five SRVUSD campuses designated as California Distinguished Schools for 2013.

April 15: The deadly Boston Marathon bombings shocked the entire nation. Eleven Danville residents were registered for the race, and those who participated escaped injury.

April 16: Contra Costa County authorities charged Ken E. Beasley – a former Danville resident, real estate expert and FOX News contributor – with felony embezzlement stemming from a 2006 incident.

April 16: The SRVUSD board adopted a resolution calling on the governor and legislature to amend the proposed Local Control Funding Formula.

April 23: The murder trial of Berkeley resident Walter Bell began. He stood accused of killing San Ramon Valley High senior Rylan Fuchs during a marijuana deal in 2009.

April 26: Danville took a step forward in emergency preparedness with the launch of the East Bay Regional Communications System.

April 30: A federal jury convicted San Francisco-based executive recruiter and Danville resident David Nosal, 55, of computer intrusion and trade-secret offenses.


May 6: The California Supreme Court ruled that counties and cities have the right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries within their borders – upholding prohibitions like the one in Danville.

May 9: A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Danville real estate investor Andrew Katakis with obstruction of justice related to an investigation into conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate auctions.

May 10: The Save Open Space Danville petition, a grassroots ballot initiative aimed at strengthening voter rights on future development, fell out of consideration as a ballot measure due to a technical error.

May 13: A Contra Costa County jury convicted Berkeley resident Walter Bell, 22, of first-degree murder, plus enhancements for using a gun and committing the killing during a robbery, for the 2009 slaying of Danville teen Rylan Fuchs.

May 13: All nine Tri-Valley high schools scored among the top high schools in the country in U.S. News & World ranking. San Ramon Valley took home a gold award from the magazine while Monte Vista received silver honors.

May 20: Former Contra Costa County drug task force commander Norman Wielsch was sentenced to 14 years in prison for his role in a police corruption case that scandalized the Bay Area.

May 21: Danville, San Ramon and Pleasanton came out near top of list of richest cities in America.

May 28: The town installed a new central irrigation system to keep its 198 acres of parks and 60 acres of arterial roadside and median landscaping looking green.

May 29: San Ramon Valley High's Cindy Egan and Nick Zefeldt, of Live Oak Elementary, were named the 2013-14 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year finalists.

May 31: The Subway at the Rose Garden Shopping Center on Camino Ramon was reportedly the victim of an armed robbery.


June 5: Local Rotarians traveled to Nigeria in May to oversee a $47,000 grant for supplies at a large healthcare event. The Danville Rotary coordinated the fundraising effort.

June 7: Danville resident Behzad Talai Mofrad, 47, pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud and identity theft, admitting to obtaining false identification by using the identity of a Minnesota boy who was kidnapped in 1989.

June 10: The SRVUSD board approved a new contract with the San Ramon Valley Education Association, with union members maintaining healthcare benefits and receiving a one-time bonus worth 4 percent of their pay.

June 11: San Ramon Valley Fire boasted a 17.9-percent survival rate for cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting, more than doubling the national survival rate.

June 17: During the spring, 730 students from 16 San Ramon Valley elementary schools took part in the Street Smarts Walk/Bike Challenge, a contest that encourages students to get to and from school under their own power. Danville's Greenbrook Elementary had the highest participation rate.

June 19: The town council approved the 69-home SummerHill Homes development project on the Magee Ranch property along Diablo Road.

June 19: Danville resident and heart transplant recipient Nicole Ludwig was selected to drop the green flag during the 25th Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

June 21: Walter Bell, of Berkeley, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 2009 killing Danville teen Rylan Fuchs.

June 22: The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the Proposition 8 appeal and struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, paving the way for same-sex marriages to continue to California.

The second half of the 2013 year in review, highlighting headlines from July to December, will run tomorrow.


Like this comment
Posted by Arlene
a resident of Diablo
on Jan 6, 2014 at 8:24 am

Thank you for this excellent summary.

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