August / September 2010

Brad Duncan, chief of the Program Development and Support Division, devoted a good portion of his life to the CCC.  His work and love of the Corps has made a major impact on the program and has been felt by thousands of corpsmembers and staff.

Brad, who passed away August 28, worked in both the field and headquarters during his long CCC career.  He began his work for the Corps as a Conservationist I in May 1979.  He worked at the Butte Fire Center, later promoting to a C II at the Del Norte Center.
At the 2007 CCC Staff Reunion/photo by Leedy Dunkle

In 1985, he moved to Sacramento to work as an AGPA (analyst) in Corpsmember Development at headquarters, later promoting to a Staff Services Manager in the same unit.  He remained in that position until he accepted a position with the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges in 1998, from where he retired in 2006.

After a brief retirement, he came back to the CCC in November 2007 when Govenror Schwarzenegger appointed him as Program Development and Support Division chief.

But these dates and locations don't tell the whole story. Brad had the vision to broaden what corpsmembers learned, beyond the physical work on the grade.

As CCC Director David Muraki has noted, "Brad the professional, more than any single individual in the history of the CCC, understood and advanced corpsmember development to the benefit of so many. "

Brad's contributions included the COMET program (Corpsmember Orientation Motivation, Education and Training), that is the new corpsmember's first exposure to CCC work and life.  Brad also played the major role in the development and implementation of a work/learn program for corpsmembers. 

Copy of The Reading
In 1989, he put together the first edition of "The Reading," a book designed to fit in a crew supervisor's backpack so it could be used at any time during the work day. The Reading's aim is to promote literacy, learning and thinking among corpsmembers through selected passages from books, magazines, articles and poems.  The topics range from life questions and the environment to leadership and equality.  The book was updated in 2001 and still used and valued today.

Brad also updated the CCC's Strategic Plan and throughout his career, put an emphasis on increasing classroom "seat time" and the number of graduates in the Corps.  He was pleased to know that the number of high school diplomas earned by corpsmembers had doubled and the number of corpsmembers earning scholarships had increased five-fold.

Most recently, he spearheaded the "Green Pathways" for corpsmembers, to lead them to employment, education and longterm career opportunities.

At his Unit's August picnic; photo by Carmelita  Almaguer

Among those expressing their thoughts about Brad was former CCC Director Al Aramburu.  "Brad was the consummate CCC manager, good with the corpsmembers, smart and great personality. He and I talked about baseball, playing the guitar and our life experiences.  He was a great guy." 

The CCC sends its deepest sympathy to Brad's wife, Diane, and children Tai and Sundara. Cards may be sent to the Duncan residence at 8852 Quartzite Circle, Granite Bay, CA  95746. Donations may be made to the Bodchitta Foundation, 127 Cherry Street, # 3, Cambridge, MA.


1982, Butte Fire Center
Camarillo, Los Angeles and local corps members with former Governors Brown, Davis and Deukmejian.
Los Angeles' Stephanie Flores, Angie Torres and Duane Wilson and the three governors.
At a September 2 Los Angeles tribute to former California governors, hosted by the CCC Foundation and the League of California Cities, three former California governors came to show their support for the California Conservation Corps.

In attendance were Attorney General Jerry Brown, who founded the CCC as governor, along with former Governors George Deukmejian and Gray Davis.  Former Governor Pete Wilson sent a letter that was read on his behalf.
Field Operations Chief Mark Rathswohl and Attorney General Jerry Brown


Corpsmembers from the Camarillo Center, the Los Angeles Satellite and the Los Angeles Conservation Corps introduced the governors, who praised the work of the CCC.  All of the governors had seen corpsmembers at work during emergency response efforts.

Jerry Brown recalled the CCC's "hard work, low pay" motto, noting that if all agencies had it as a motto, there would be no budget problem.
In a letter read to those at the reception, former Governor Pete Wilson, who that evening was on a trip in the Galapagos Islands, also commended the work of the corpsmembers.
Attorney General Jerry Brown with Los Angeles' Andrew Boldon and Camarillo's Omar Chavez
"I have vivid memories of the fires, floods and earthquake recovery efforts that young CCC members worked.  They were dirty and tired but I never heard one complaint.  Not one," Wilson wrote. "When our state has needed you in the past -- and will again in the future, you have answered the call."
CCC Director David Muraki with former Governor Gray Davis
Also on hand at the tribute were local conservation corps members and staff, as well as CCC staff from many of the Southern California centers.
The governors graciously posed for photos with staff, corpsmembers and guests.
Field Operations Chief Mark Rathswohl introduced himself to Attorney General Brown and mentioned that the first time they met had been in the Governor's Office in 1980, when Mark's crew returned from its Backcountry season.  CCC Director B.T. Collins had taken them across the street to the Capitol. "You remember that?  It was 30 years ago," Brown remarked.
San Diego Con Sup Steve Kirsch with former Governor Deukmejian, as BSO Justina White snaps the photo
Among the many people helping to arrange this successful tribute were co-chairs Bud Sheble and Paul Carrillo, and CCC Foundation President Cynthia Laubacher. 
As David Muraki noted, "The coming together of three governors in person and a fourth in spirit will be long remembered by the Corps as an historic event."


Members of Camarillo's new initial-attack fire crews, under the direction of CAL FIRE, have already responded to several incidents in the past few weeks.  The photo above was taken on the Cowboy Fire in San Diego County. Three San Diego crews were also dispatched to provide logistical support at the fire camp.
In the last few months, the CCC has sent crews to more than 15 wildfires throughout the state.
Demetrius Browder removing fruit
 But our emergency response efforts didn't end there. Crews have assisted the California Department of Food and Agriculture on pest infestations and also helped with a search-and-rescue effort.
Kevin Golston picking peppers
In the Pasadena area, crews picked fruit infested by the Asian fruit fly. They were also sent to Kern County to pick peppers infested by the Melon fruit fly.  In Lodi, corpsmembers picked grapes to protect vineyards against the spread of the European grapevine moth.  Similar work is set for the Ukiah and Fairfield areas.
And Ukiah corpsmembers assisted the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office in a search-and-rescue effort for an elderly woman.  She was found alive and in good condition.
Gulf training: CCC Hazwoper (hazardous material and oil spill cleanup) trainer Lin McNamara was invited by Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado to join his delegration to Louisiana in July.  Lt. Gov. Maldonado offered California's economic and environmental resources to assist with oil spill recovery efforts.
Lin led a training session in New Orleans for local volunteers in proper cleanup protocol and techniques and was introduced by the Lieutenant Governor.
Was there any attempt by upper management to prevent the furloughs from affecting the corpsmembers?  It seemed particularly hard on them as they are already making only minimum wage.
                                                        John Anderson, C I, Placer

Thanks for your question -- and congratulations for inaugurating our new "Ask the Director" column. The furloughs and other impacts of the ongoing economic downturn and ensuing state budget crisis have created hardships for tens of thousands of state employees. I agree that employees earning the minimum wage are especially vulnerable to these impacts.  The CCC has requested a number of exemptions to the furloughs to enable us to better provide the public service we exist to provide.  CCC upper management did not exempt our corpsmembers from the furloughs. The main reason for this decision is simple:  By  complying with the requirement to furlough CCC staff and close CCC offices, there was no way to operate our programs and ensure the safety of our corpsmembers.
Got a question for David? Send it in care of Susanne Levitsky ( and we'll pass it on for consideration next month.

The CCC's new Web site went online August 30, with enhanced features, videos and more photos showcasing our corpsmembers, our work and the many CCC opportunities.  Additional pages, photo galleries and videos will be added in the coming months.

The site is the product of many hours of work by a commitee headed by Administrative Chief Erin Healy and including Information Systems' Rita Gass and Bruce Fong, Public Information's Susanne Levitsky, Emergency's John Martinez and Corpsmember Development's Tony Vasquez.
The new site takes advantage of SharePoint collaborative technology to give visitors near real-time information about the CCC.
And coming soon will be SharePoint training for center staff so they can update their  information and submit it for approval.
Los Padres C I Ben Herbert, the staff liaison for this year's exchange with Conservation Volunteers Australia, reports our Australian exchange crew arrived safely from California and has been working on the island of Tasmania.  Work so far has included invasive species removal.  "We're dealing with briar rose, gorse and African box thorn, used to keep elephants out in parts of Africa.  We don our gallant welding gloves and head into action..." 
Corpsmembers at the Hobart Pier
A Tasmanian Devil
tasmanian devil

Kosta Ivasku, Corpsmember Development C 1, Ukiah

How do you pronounce your first name?

It's Ko-sta. I was born in Yugoslavia when it was under the Soviet Union.  I came here with my family at age 5, or as my parents used to say, with 10 kids and seven dollars. We escaped communism, acting like we were going on vacation. We stayed in a refugee camp in Austria before coming to the U.S.

Tell us what you do for the CCC:

I oversee classes, COMET and scholarships.

How did you end up at the CCC?

I joined as a corpsmember in 1988. I couldn't believe I could get paid while making the environment better.

Was this your first state job?


Where have you been in the Corps? And what stands out over the years?

After finally getting in the CCC -- my application was lost three times -- I was in Session 138 at the Academy (SLO), where I got the highest score on the fire training test. (Camarillo C 2) Hector Garcia is the only other person still around from my session.

 As a corpsmember, I was at the Humboldt Fire Center and the Backcountry Program on Phil LaFollette's crew.  From there I joined CDF's Helitack program (a CCC partnership with CAL  FIRE, involving helicopter attack on fires), based at the Bieber base in the Lassen-Modoc Unit.

I got a job offer to run an energy audit crew at Placer, as a special corpsmember.  We collected energy related data from major universities and then transferred the information into a database.  Then I got my first C 1 job, limited term, at Camarillo, where I also went out on my first oil spill.

I was offered a permanent C 1 position and spent eight years at our nonres. satellite in Paso Robles.  We did miles and miles of boardwalk, and built a lot of bridges. We worked in rain and hail.

I worked on the Loma Prieta earthquake recovery as a corpsmember, the  Northridge earthquake recovery as  a C 1 and I also recall fire rehab work in the Eldorado National Forest and "bug stuff" looking for the glassy-winged sharpshooter.

I worked at the Leggett (Mendocino County) Satellite and now I'm in Ukiah.

What do you like best about the CCC?

I finally found the right job for me, doing Corpsmember Development after being a grade C 1 for 10 years.  I really love this job and the people I work with.

We have so many talented staff who can draw off of each others' talents and create great opportunities for the CCC and corpsmembers.

I'm very proud of the staff who've been supportive of me along the way. Victor Rocha, James Taylor, Bruce Bonifas, Larry Notheis and so many others I wish I could list.  Keep supporting each other, it really makes a difference!

If you were to be a corpsmember for a day, what would you want to do?

Feel young again!  The blue hat is the best hat to wear in the CCC. Those are the people doing most of the work and having to adapt to major challenges.  I would love to do Backcountry again.

Anything you might want to change or add to the program?

I would like to have the CCC be fully funded and not have to worry so much about funding and vehicles, etc.  I would add a winning lottery ticket and put it in a high-yield bond for the CCC.

Now, a little bit about you personally.

In my spare time, I like to ...

Fix things, weld, use my backhoe and auger.  I also like to spend time with my family.

What's on your iPod?

U2, Pink Floyd, Ozzy

Books on your nightstand?

The Bible, Great Expectations, repair manuals.

My favorite Internet sites include ...

When I leave work, I check my Facebook and get connected to so many old friends.  But, most of the time, I am too busy fixing things on the ranch.


My wife, Rhonda, and three kids, a dog, a cat and two horses.  I've seen a lot of beautiful places and now I get to live on 10 acres in Laytonville, a small town of 12,000.

Your last vacation?

Casini Ranch.  Camping for four days, close to Jenner (Sonoma County).  Saw lots of relatives during our annual family reunion.  Even saw Mark Rathswohl and his wife, Leslie, during the trip.

You can invite 3-4 famous people, living or dead, over for dinner.  Your guests would include ...

Jesus, Bono and (former CCC director) B.T. Collins.  That would be an interesting dinner.  I talk about B.T. all the time in COMET sessions.

Time travel becomes available.  You'd like to travel back (or forward) to what time period?

I'd like to go back in time.  It would be great to see my Mom and Dad when they were young . Wonder if they were as wild as I was?


After 15 years in Human Resources at the CCC, and "thirty something" years of state service, Cindy Domasky is retiring. 

A Personnel Supervisor II, Cindy started her state career as an Office Assistant at the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Before coming to the CCC, she also worked at Social Services, Atascadero State Hospital, Health, State Parks and General Services.                                                                        

Her longest term of service was with the Corps.  "I've loved everything about it, " Cindy says.  "Working with the clerks, the field, the Transactions Unit.  And like everyone else says, 'it feels like home.'"

Administrative Chief Erin Healy praised Cindy for the important role she and her staff have each month.

"Corpsmembers get paid because of you," Erin said. "You remember why we're here, every single day."

Cindy reflected on a lot of changes in the Corps over the years. Regarding corpsmember payroll, "we went from corpsmembers paying for health insurance to not having any, to getting full coverage."

And the technology changes of course -- "it's hard to believe at one time we had just a few computers for the whole unit to use."

As for retirement plans, "I'm just coming to grips with the fact I will have some time.  I'll take somewhat of a vacation, then I'll see from there."

"I'll have more time for reading, and my daughter's already planning on me babysitting," Cindy says.

Congratulations to all these staff members who reached these milestones in either August or September. Thank you for your years of service to the CCC.
 10 years 
John Perry                         Conservationist  I                               Ukiah
 15 Years
Lynda Burkhalter               Conservationist II                                Redding
Cindy Domasky                Personnel Supervisor II                      Headquarters
Christian Herrera              Conservationist I                                 Los Angeles 
25 Years 
 Mark Hill                             Conservationist II                               Siskiyou Satellite
 Erin Healy                           Chief, Administrative Division         Headquarters
John Martinez                      Staff Services Manager I                Headquarters
30 Years 
Michelle Tramel                  Supervising Cook I                             Placer 
James (J.T.) Taylor             Conservationist I                                 Los Padres
Leedy Dunkle                      Conservation Admin. II                        Tahoe    
25 Years of State Service
Mark Hill                                Conservationist II                                  Siskiyou Satellite
Fortuna's Larry Notheis forwards these great photos by C I John Button of CCC trail work being done in Redwood National Park In Humboldt County.  The trail head will be located at Elk Meadows (a great place to see Roosevelt Elk) and when finished, will connect with the Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail.
You can see two endangered species while hiking this trail -- the Marbled Murrelet and the Spotted Owl, plus many other animals and birds.  The trail project through the old-growth redwoods has been about 10 years in the planning; it was approved this year and is being funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) funding. 
Three different Fortuna crews have worked on the project and drawn praise from the National Park Service.  One of the benefits of the new trail is to give visitors "a deeper and more majestic redwood experience," Larry says.

Corpsmember Development Support Manager Kris Escarda is the new Regional Deputy for Region II, filling the position formerly held by Jose Phillips. Kris has extensive experience in both the field and headquarters and has also managed national service programs on the North Coast.
Kris has been with the CCC nearly six years, beginning in Fortuna with the Watershed Stewards Program.  As project director, she began as a contract employee then became a C I.  She moved on to a Conservation Supervisor position at Leggett, then accepted a position as a Public Participation Specialist at the Dept. of Toxic Substances Control.  After three years, she came back to the CCC as a "second chancer," as a Staff Services Manager for Policy Development/Corpsmember Development/Special Projects.
While on the North Coast, she also worked at several nonprofit agencies: Redwood Community Action Agency (Straight Up AmeriCorps Program Manager) and Redwoods United (In-Home Care Program Manager).
Welcome aboard to Norma Fung, our new Accounting Administrator II, filling Pallas Bento's former position.  Norma previously worked as a supervisor at the Dept. of Fish and Game for the last three years and prior to that, worked at the Dept. of Justice and the State Treasurer's Office.
Human Resources' Ann Dickey, who has been with the CCC for nearly 20 years, is our new HR chief.  Ann fills the vacancy left by Glenda Smith, who retired.  Ann has many years of experience in the transactions, classification and pay and labor relations areas.  Thanks to Julie Mull who's been helping out as a retired annuitant since Glenda's departure.
Colleen Hardin is back at the CCC as a "second chancer."  She is now working here as a Personnel Analyst.  Formerly in Corpsmember Development, Colleen left the CCC in January 2009 to work at the Dept. of Public Health. 
Congratulations to San Diego's Sara Weaver, the center's new Conservationist II for projects.  Sara began her CCC career as a corpsmember, then crewleader, in 1997.  She worked at the Fortuna, Ukiah and Leggett sites and spent two seasons involved in the Salmon Restoration Program, where she later became a Special Corpsmember. She became a Conservationist I in 2004 at the San Diego Center.
Another former corpsmember in a new position is Raquel Ortega.  She is Fortuna's new Business Services Officer, taking over for Dawn Jacobs, who has moved on from the CCC.  Raquel started at Fortuna in 1997, later promoting to Crewleader II. She became a C I in 2000 and has been based in Fortuna ever since. In 2006, she was one of seven C Is who traveled to Louisiana to supervise hurricane cleanup work.
Welcome to Celeste Wendel, the new Office Technician at Greenwood. Celeste comes to the CCC from CAL FIRE, where she worked in the legislative unit. . . . . At Inland Empire, Pablo Gomez has been promoted to Conservationist II and is focusing on Corpsmember Development.  Pablo started out as a corpsmember back in 1987, had a stint with the Conservation Corps of Long Beach and returned to spend the last 17 years as a C I.
Linh Tran, most recently the CCC's Executive Fellow, has begun working in the Special Projects Unit as the AmeriCorps Program Coordinator.  Linh will oversee the new California Energy Services Corps that will involve four CCC sites and three local corps locations. . . . . And speaking of the Special Projects Unit, it's official -- Hunt Drouin has been selected as the unit's new manager.  He'll supervise Proposition 84, the local corps certification process and statewide AmeriCorps programs.
In the Budget Management Office, Teresa Cook has transferred from Reimbursement Contracts to the Budget area and is now the Associate Budget Analyst for Region I. . . . . New to Budgets is Gladys Betsworth, who transferred from Accounting.   She is the Reimbursement Contract Analyst for Region II, plus Placer, Sacramento, Napa, statewide trails and emergency contracts.ddddddddd
Our new VISTA leader, replacing Vanessa Loucky, is Chris-Michael (CM) Tena.  A 2009 graduate of UC Santa Cruz, CM was previously a VISTA volunteer at Monterey Bay.  He assisted with Corpsmember Development activities, facilitating education days, putting together a year-long training calendar and helping develop a CMD partnership with Mission College.
John Anderson is now a limited-term Conservationist I at the Placer Center.  He's a second-generation staff member -- his mother, Regina, worked for the CCC in the 1980s and 1990s.  A former teacher, John says he's happy to be working directly with young people again. . . . . Irene Hoener, Office Tech at Ukiah, has transferred to Napa.
Congratulations to Special Programs Support's Joe Mendonsa and girlfriend Christina, proud parents of Santino, born July 16.  Santino joins big sisters Natalee and Annalise.
The Mendonsa Family
We recently learned of the unexpected passing of Kathy Smith, who worked in the CCC's Accounting Office from 1996-2001.  A memorial service is set for Saturday, September 18 in Carmichael.
Former CCC center director David Boyd is retiring as executive director of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority.  David lives in Humboldt County.
 PLCtwo  Get Dirty:  That's the headline on this new brochure from the Public Lands Corps that includes the photo, at right, of Fortuna corpsmember La Mar Knight. The photo was taken by CCC Director David Muraki during a visit to La Mar's Kings Canyon backcountry crew.  CCC photos were also used in a display at the Boy Scouts' 100th Anniversary Jamboree held in Virginia re this summer.
Watershed Restoration: Camarillo's Paul Campa tells us about a volunteer project at Carpinteria State Beach in Santa Barbara County.  Corpsmembers helped place black plastic over non-native ice plant and anchored the plastic with sandbags.  The plants will be "solarized" -- burned with the heat of the sun.  The dead plants will used as mulch, and the natives will be planted where the ice plant had been.  
The corpsmembers also pulled ice plant in areas where that could not be covered. Paul says corpsmembers learned about habitat restoration and the importance of the Carpinteria Creek Watershed.  Thanks to Paul for his photos of the work.
Women in the Trades: Monterey Bay C I Hannah Sarvasy and two corpsmembers were shown and quoted in a recent edition of Building Trades News after attending a Women Building California Conference in Oakland.  They talked about opportunities for young women in the CCC.
Lassen Peak Trail: Redding corpsmembers have received attention in local newspapers for their work on the Lassen Peak Trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park.  The CCC has helped to widen the trail and create sturdier rock walls, part of a large-scale Reach-the-Peak effort to improve safe access for the public.
Recruiters at Work: 
Two recruitment booths to highlight -- one at the State Fair in Sacramento, one in Humboldt County. Sacramento recruitment staff staffed a booth on First Responders day.  Along with the CCC, representatives from the CHP, Red Cross, Sheriff's Department, U.S.Army, Marines and other agencies were present, offering a chance for some networking.  Zone 2 Recruiter Renee Podris tells us CCC staff passed out information and talked to State Fair visitors about the CCC.     
Behind the shades -- Nate Ortiz and Wei Hsieh at the CCC's State Fair Booth
Congrats to Fortuna Recruiter Wayne Martins and Watershed Stewards Program Team Leader Caterina Lewis-Perry for their design talents.  For the second year in a row, the CCC won the Best Overall Feature Booth at the Humboldt County Fair.  It also gave Wayne et al a chance to talk to some 700 fairgoers about the CCC, the Watershed Stewards Program and AmeriCorps. The $50 prize was donated to the Fortuna Corpsmember Advisory Board. 
Prize-winning Humboldt County Fair Booth with Wayne Martins, center.
humboldt rect booth
Kudos to a CCC Crew:
Some kind words came in via our Web site for Camarillo C 1 John Johnson's crew assisting the Dept. of Food and Ag in combating invasive plants throughout the state.  "I am very impressed," wrote the individual. "We came in late to our camping spot here in San Benito County and a young group of kids were playing in the field. This morning they are all up early and out picking up the whole area of trash. Keep up the good work!"
Humboldt County Race: Fortuna VISTA Erika Stowe-Madison tells us about the CCC's participation once again in famous Kinetic Sculpure Race.  The race is a combination of art and engineering and takes place over three days. It begins in Arcata and ends in Ferndale, about 42 miles, requiring vehicles to successfully cross different terrains from sloughs to sand, mud, hills and Humboldt Bay.
Fortuna staff and corpsmembers were joined by members of the Watershed Stewards Project, VISTA Erika and the Arcata/Eureka Co-op in crafting this year's entry.  The CCC's vehicle (above), nicknamed "Corpie Cruiser 5," featured two blue hard hats -- complete with CCC stickers -- that were joined together but could also separate when necessary.  (See photo of water portion below.)
Erika says the entry received two awards -- the "Biggest Splash" and a free entry into a similar race in Klamath Falls, Oregon. 


And Another Race:  Well-known in the Sacramento area is Eppie's Great Race.  Participants (or team members) must run 5.8 miles; bike 12.5 miles and kayak 6.35 miles. Business Services' Jennifer Reed participated in Eppie's Great Race in Sacramento with Cynthia Aguayo's nephew.  The photo was taken by headquarters' Ryan Lienhard, who was part of the pit crew.

Carmichael Park: Thanks to the efforts of Corpsmember Development's Tony Vasquez along with Greenwood's Brian Lussier and Sacramento Satellite's Tony Steele, Carmichael residents are enjoying a newly constructed neighborhood park.  Crews headed by C Is Steve Soares and Justin Poutre built a 2,000-foot walk trail for easy access to nature areas at O'Donnell Park.  Tony lives nearby and helped to spearhead the project. 
Canadian Success Story: A Canadian paper in Victoria featured a story about Matt Laundrie, a 1995 Sequoia corpsmember.  Matt is now has his own business promoting concerts.
We plan to send the next newsletter out around October 1.  Got a topic, photo or item of interest? E-mail Susanne Levitsky at or call (916) 341-3145.  We'd like to have any submissions by September 23.  And be sure to include those photo credits.