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June 14-20, 2006

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News Briefs

By Patricia Lynn Henley


Stupid 'Pranks'

Sir Francis Drake High principal Don Drake was almost done handing out diplomas on Friday, June 12, when he felt a sting in his right thumb, caused by a high-velocity pellet gun wielded by former student William Castle, 18, of Lagunitas. Upset because Drake expelled him last September, Castle allegedly made his way through a neighboring yard, crossed a creek and shot through a fence. "The suspect was trying to aim for the principal's buttocks," says officer Julie Gorwood of the San Anselmo Police Department. "The principal had his hands behind his back, so it hit his thumb rather than where the suspect was aiming." Castle, who told officers his actions were a "prank," was booked into Marin County Jail on charges of assault on a school employee engaged in the performance of duties, with bail set at $75,000. Drake finished distributing diplomas and congratulated the class of 2006 before having a Band-Aid applied to his thumb. No other medical care was needed. In a separate incident, four Redwood High School seniors in Larkspur were suspended prior to graduation for a prank that resulted in the death of eight chickens and injuries to more than 30 others. Allegedly, the students bought 45 birds in San Francisco and kept them in cars on the campus parking lot for several hours before releasing them in a school hallway. The plan was to pull the fire alarm bell, mingling students and birds, says Sheri Cardo, director of public relations for the Marin Human Society. "It doesn't appear that at any point these students even considered the animals'suffering," Cardo adds. Seven chickens were dead on campus and another died later. The remaining 37 were nurtured back to health, then adopted out as pets or egg layers.

Faceless PG&E

PG&E wants to save its ratepayers $25 million annually by shutting down its 84 local offices, including seven North Bay locations in Geyserville, Guerneville, Napa, Petaluma, San Rafael, Santa Rosa and Sonoma. Payments can still be dropped off at pay stations in retail stores. All other questions, comments or problems would be funneled through the PG&E website or its centralized phone center, which provides help in 150 different languages. PG&E provides gas and electric service in a 70,000-square-mile area in Northern and Central California, stretching from Eureka south to Bakersfield, and from the Pacific Ocean east to the Sierras. The Public Utilities Commission will decide on the office-closure proposal by Dec. 31; if approved, the sites would shut June 30, 2007. PG&E employs approximately 20,000 people; about 300, including 21 in the North Bay, would be affected by the closures. Plans call for $748,000 for training to aid employees in transitioning to other jobs, either within PG&E or elsewhere, and $4.4 million in severance-related costs.


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