President’s Message, February 2019

Scott Tuffnell has been named the El Sobrante Chamber of Commerce 2018 Citizen of the Year.  Here is his acceptance address: I am humbled at being named Citizen of the Year.  Past Honorees have been people who were in charge of a special project, or those who had a lifetime of service to the community. Occasionally they were someone who participated for several years in one of our community service groups, and I suppose I fall into that last category.

What I know is that I did not earn this distinction on my efforts alone.  I was very happy to have my family join me at the Awards dinner last month.  The award belongs in part to them, as they have supported my activities within the chamber.  My wife Jenny, daughter Laura and her husband Spenser and my dad, Robert Tuffnell have all helped me have the time to spend on community projects.  Thank you, guys.

I also have been supported by my peers and colleagues at work, and I’m grateful to have Mike and Renee Rowland, and Diane Cockrell there as well.  They have all supported the Chamber of Commerce for many years, and as you heard earlier, they were an early inspiration to my community service to both the Chamber and the Boys and Girls Club.

I had the support of a great Board of Directors this past year. Together we completed a few projects and began work on others.  We finally revamped our website and newsletter, thanks especially to our Editor, Martha Booz, with the assistance of new board member, Lauren Hanley, and the input of the other members of the board.  I recently discovered the remarks I prepared in 2005 when I was first elected President, and I had proposed redoing our website back then.  Thank you all for your patience in getting that project completed!

We produced another great stroll this past year.  Many thanks to Stroll Boss Bob Davis who directed the Stroll Committee for the last how many years, Bob?  Bob is also our treasurer, so he has shouldered two heavy duty positions on the board for quite a while.  Thank you so much, Bob, for your leadership with the Stroll, arguably El Sobrante’s premiere event.

New Stroll Director Tom Lang has stepped up to take on the Stroll for the next 25 years, thank you, Tom.

We began the process of installing new Welcome to El Sobrante signs.  Originally an idea brought to the board by Maurice, the project developed into an Eagle Scout project.  Unfortunately, the scout had to move on because of the time it took to maneuver through bureaucracy of securing permission to locate and build more permanent pillars welcoming visitors and returning residents to our town.  We will pick this project up this year and my hope is to have them built and maybe even completed by our 26th Annual Stroll. Thank you, Maurice, I look forward to your input as we move forward with your proposal.

We continue to publish our Business Directory, and distribute it to residents, businesses and new members.  Thank you, Marie and Judy, for continuing this publication.  We also have an online version; check it out at elsobrantechamber.com

We accomplished these and other projects and events because of the incredible energy and enthusiasm of the members of the Chamber and leadership of the Board.  We are one of the few remaining “smaller” Chambers in the region.  Other Chambers have either dissolved or joined forces to accomplish what we do every day, serve our community.  We do it as volunteers, all of us giving our time, talent and energy to make El Sobrante a great place to live, work or run a business.  I cannot thank enough the members of the 2018 board for the time you have given to our community.

I am excited to welcome three new members to the board for 2019.   Karla, Lauren and Tom, we all welcome you, and thank you in advance for the time you are prepared to give this community in the coming year.

Thank you to every one of you who donates time, talent or treasure or supports a loved one who does; that makes El Sobrante the best kept secret in the Bay Area.

Scott Tuffnell

President’s Message, January 2019

2019 promises to be an exciting year for El Sobrante.  We have an energetic, dynamic Board of Directors lined up for the coming year, and we are already making plans for completing projects and starting new ones that will enhance El Sobrante’s downtown.

We will kick off the new year with the annual Awards Dinner, honoring our Business of the Year and Citizen of the Year, and Installation of Officers and members of the Board on Saturday, January 12, 2019.  Details are within the body of this newsletter, and on the Chamber website at https://www.elsobrantechamber.com/events/chamber-of-commerce-board-of-directors-installation-dinner/

We will continue to work on the installation of new ‘Welcome to El Sobrante’ signs at the El Portal/San Pablo Dam Rd and Castro Ranch/San Pablo Dam Rd locations.  The Eagle Scout candidate had to drop the project due to his time constraints, so the Chamber is either looking for a new scout to pick up the project if interested, or we will move forward on our own.

In March, the History Channel documentary series “American Pickers” will be filming in Northern California, and they are actively looking now for treasures and stories to put on the air.  If you or someone you know has a large, private collection or accumulation of antiques that the pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, the show’s stars, can spend the better part of the day looking through, send your name, phone number, location and description of the collection with photos to americanpickers@cineflix.com or call 855-OLD-RUST.  Who knows, El Sobrante may make it back again on a national television broadcast.  This past year, a home was chosen by Jonathan of Property Brothers fame to be on his Brother vs. Brother show, and the Santa Rita Rd. property in El Sobrante beat out brother Drew’s Pinole home to win the competition.  El Sobrante is the place to be in 2019!

Opportunities are also coming this year with some commercial properties on San Pablo Dam Rd and also on Appian Way.  Local community groups are trying to create community spaces at the former Adachi Nursery and also the long boarded up Arco station site on San Pablo Dam Rd. The Chamber stands ready to support local community groups who can demonstrate a willingness and ability to develop these projects.  We have communicated about these projects in past newsletters, and will support these projects as possible.

We are also beginning a campaign to bring back a resident Sheriff’s Deputy to the community.  As plans develop we will communicate how you can participate in having a more consistent law enforcement presence on our streets.

May we all enjoy a healthy and prosperous new year!
Scott Tuffnell

President’s Message, December 2018

December is upon us.  Time to gather with friends and family, to review the past year’s accomplishments and to plan the next year’s goals.  Holiday shopping, celebrations and services, gift exchanges and concerts fill our calendars.  Andy William’s “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” gets stuck in my mind, maybe yours too, and I tend to sing it ironically to myself (and any innocent bystander) while waiting in longer than usual lines or traffic.

Actually, it IS the most wonderful time of the year.  Our schedules are hectic, but we always make time for the gatherings, and make a point to let each other know how much we appreciate all they do for us all year long.  Expressing our gratitude comes a little easier this time of year. With that in mind, I remind everyone, chamber member and community member both, that the Chamber’s Annual Holiday Mixer will be on Wednesday, December 12, 2018, at Mechanics Bank on San Pablo Dam Rd.  Mike Frith and staff at the bank always host a wonderful mixer to end our year and we are very grateful that they are hosting the mixer again this year.  Details are inside this newsletter.

An important component of the December mixer is the announcement of the results of the   Board of Directors Election held in November.  Ballots are actually counted on the night of the mixer.  We as a community get to welcome the new board right on the spot as well as thank the out-going board for their service over the past twelve months. The other major announcement is of the Citizen and Business of the Year 2018. Who will be honored this year? Come to the mixer and find out!  I hope everyone comes to enjoy this special gathering of the community.

I strongly encourage you to shop locally always, and especially when shopping for your holiday gifts.  Many businesses will be happy to sell you gift certificates for their services or wares, and local merchants may have stocked special items just for the holidays.  Check them out!

The newly elected board will be installed on January 12, 2019, at the Elks Lodge on San Pablo Dam Rd.  Inside this newsletter is an invitation and more information about this event as well.

May you all enjoy this most wonderful time of the year. Happy Holidays!

Scott

President’s Message, November 2018

Gratitude is on my mind this month. Some call November ‘Gratitude Month,’ and while I try to practice an attitude of gratitude all year long, November seems to bring it out in more of us.  I can’t say for sure, but this year it may be in part because we can finally be rid of political campaign mailers, commercials, and other advertising, at least for a short while.  Maybe it’s because the holidays are just around the corner, with all the chaos, activity and contemplation the season brings.  Whatever the reason, gratitude is more than just an emotion.

“Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes.” Tony Robbins’ quote is more than just bumper-sticker philosophy for over-achievers to take on the world.  Simple expressions of gratitude give the recipient a sense of value and a desire to build on that experience.  Eliminating expectation should result in being not let down for missed rewards or experiences. Couple that with a genuine appreciation for what is received or experienced, and one will actually be happier as well.

Poet Gertrude Stein said, ‘Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” The act of expressing one’s gratitude towards another is the secret to its effectiveness.  Children are the easiest example of this; they try to be seen and acknowledged and when rewarded with a positive comment often repeat the behavior to get a similar reward.  Pavlov modeled this for us as well.

If we want our community to be a beautiful, positive place for our residents and visitors, we must create this by acting and rewarding positive behavior within.  When out doing your life, thank the local merchant for keeping their business clean and inviting.  Utilize the talents of the professionals who choose to operate their business in our neighborhood.  Be thankful we have the variety of services and opportunities we have in our community and take advantage of them.

If something needs to change, look for the most positive way to express how to make that change.  Appreciate everyone around you and look for the similarities first, not the differences, when dealing with someone who disagrees with your position.  If things don’t go your way, it’s because you allowed an expectation to trickle in and set you up for disappointment.  Instead of expecting an outcome, plan an action and prepare to appreciate what becomes of it.  It sounds like feel-good, fluffy rhetoric, but really it’s just magic.  And who doesn’t need a little magic in their lives?

Chamber Board elections arrive this November; watch the mailbox for your ballot.  Paid members of the Chamber of Commerce are eligible to run for a seat on the board, and only paid members are eligible to vote.  If you want a say in how the Chamber runs, join or renew your membership today! I appreciate you taking the time to read this, today and always!  Happy Holidays!

Scott Tuffnell

President’s Message, September 2018

Congratulations to the El Sobrante community for reaching the 25th El Sobrante Stroll anniversary milestone. We have a great track record for the event. Each year gets better and better. It is now tradition for community members to gather in downtown El Sobrante on the third Sunday in September, and show their pride in and support for the schools, community and civic groups, worship communities and local merchants

I have already commented several times over the past couple of years as the Chamber’s president on my admiration for the small army of volunteers who spend literally hundreds of hours organizing this special day in our community. Each volunteer puts in great effort so that the Stroll is a fun, safe event for you and your family. Committees on booth placement, marketing and merchandise, transportation and parking, the Car Show, the parade, the food vendors, and all the permits and services required to close a major thoroughfare have been working since January (and even before) to make this the biggest and best Stroll yet.

Twenty-fifth anniversary t-shirts and coffee mugs will be available the day of the stroll, but quantities of these special edition items are limited. They will sell out fast, so make your way early to the Chamber booth near the corner of Hillcrest and San Pablo Dam Road. Then, buy some great food at a local restaurant or street vendor, watch the parade, and STROLL your afternoon away viewing the great cars, crafts and people of our unique and wonderful community. Don’t forget to wear your “I Y El Sobrante” buttons!

After the stroll, school will be in full swing and the fall season will soon be upon us. Those two events also bring about another great event started by the Chamber for the community, the Chamber’s Scholarship Fund fundraiser. Last year we had a great Halloween party in conjunction with the Elks Lodge. Plans are now being put together for this year’s fundraising event; no date or time has been set yet, but if you have any interest in helping plan this year’s event, contact the Chamber. We’d love your help.

Scott Tuffnell

President’s Message, March 2018

At the last Chamber board meeting held on February 5, 2018, the board developed a position statement regarding the proposed methadone clinic. After careful consideration of information provided by BAART corporation representatives at various local meetings, including the MAC, the board agreed with the sentiment expressed by the residents and business owners in the area that the proposed location was not compatible with our vision of our community. The lack of planning for security, and traffic concerns were among the reasons the community voiced opposition to the relocation of the clinic from its present Cutting Blvd. site.

The board’s position statement is as follows:

“Believing that the El Sobrante business district is an inappropriate place for the methadone clinic, the El Sobrante Chamber of Commerce opposes relocation of the BAART methadone clinic to the El Sobrante Valley.“

There are times when the Chamber leads the way in moving forward with the community. However, this time, it was individual members of the community first moving towards this goal. This is not to say that the Chamber board members did not agree with or understand the concerns expressed by those individuals. Quite the contrary. The board, as the leaders of the Chamber, took the time to allow for all the information to come out; from the members of our community, from the corporation proposing the clinic, and also from local government representatives. It is appropriate to thank Supervisor John Gioia for also listening to all the input, and deciding not to support the clinic’s move to San Pablo Dam Rd.

This experience highlights what can be done when community members join together to listen to each other and develop solutions to problems and issues that arise. It’s encouraging that many of the individuals who participated in this process are interested in staying in touch and forming a group to address other issues in our community. I strongly encourage their conversations to make El Sobrante an even greater community than it already is.

-Scott Tuffnell, President of El Sobrante Chamber of Commerce