<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Top Stories]]>Copyright 2018 https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area https://www.nbcbayarea.com en-usThu, 13 Dec 2018 11:29:04 -0800Thu, 13 Dec 2018 11:29:04 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[SF Firefighter Dies in Head-On Crash Near Santa Rosa]]> Wed, 12 Dec 2018 23:26:05 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sr-crash-1212.jpg

A San Francisco firefighter died early Wednesday in a head-on collision near Santa Rosa, according to the SF Fire Department and Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office identified the driver killed as Steven William Pacatte, 34, of Monte Rio, and San Francisco fire officials confirmed he was a firefighter with Station 14.

Pacatte was driving a Chevrolet Silverado truck east on Occidental Road near Piezzi Road in heavy fog around 5:30 a.m. when he passed a garbage truck in front of him and collided with a westbound Chevrolet Suburban driven by a female, CHP Officer David deRutte said.

The passing attempt was over broken yellow lines, which is legal, but it occurred in an unsafe area, deRutte said.

Both Chevrolet drivers were taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where Pacatte was pronounced dead. The female driver suffered critical injuries, deRutte said.

SF fire officials said Pacatte was on his way to work when the crash occurred.

Fire officials said Pacatte was hired in 2016 and worked at stations 3, 48 and 14. Pacatte had recently been deployed to wildfires including the Camp Fire. He previously worked for the Tiburon Fire Protection District.

Pacatte is survived by his expecting fiancee, mother, father and sisters. 

Pacatte's body was taken from the coroner’s office in Santa Rosa to Duggan's Serra Mortuary in Daly City Wednesday evening.

Photo Credit: Santa Rosa Press-Democrat
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<![CDATA[Accused Russian Agent Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 09:10:53 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/butinaAP_18295664552874.jpg

Russian operative Maria Butina, who is accused of infiltrating politically powerful U.S. organizations, including the National Rifle Association, in an effort to push Moscow's agenda, pleaded guilty Thursday to a conspiracy count, NBC News reported.

Butina has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors and pleaded guilty in a Washington, D.C., courtroom to one count of conspiracy to violate the law governing foreign agents operating in the United States. The felony carries a five-year prison term, but the estimated sentencing guideline range is from zero to six months in prison.

Butina was arrested in July and has been held without bail and could face deportation after serving any prison sentence. She had been in the U.S. on a student visa and Judge Tanya Chutkan on Thursday that Butina could face supervised release if she stays in the country.

Thursday's guilty plea means she is admitting to conspiring with an unnamed American to act at the direction of a Russian official "to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics … for the benefit of the Russian Federation," according to a plea agreement.

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Multi-Vehicle Accident Blocks Lane on Hwy 24 in Orinda]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 11:08:18 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/WEBSTILLHWY24ORINDATraffic_5309543.JPEG

A multi-vehicle accident on Highway 24 in Orinda prompted closure of an eastbound lane Thursday morning, according to California Highway Patrol.

The accident involving four vehicles was reported at 10:08 a.m., said CHP. Smoke was coming out of one of the vehicles.

The tunnel bore 4 by Fish Ranch Road was blocked due to the accident and there is not estimated time on when the lane will be reopened, said CHP.

No other information was available.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Boy Scouts Explore Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Report]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 04:22:59 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/boy+scouts+america+generic.jpg

The Irving-based Boy Scouts of America has retained the services of a law firm and is exploring the option of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The move would be an attempt to stave off a wave of sex abuse lawsuits — no fewer than 140 have already been filed — that allege wrongdoing against scout masters or adults in the program.

In a statement, Michael B. Surbaugh, the Chief Scout Executive, noted that news reports about the BSA’s financial position are speculation. But he also acknowledged that the organization is working “with experts to explore all options available to ensure that the local and national programming of the Boy Scout of America continues uninterrupted.”

“We have a social and moral responsibility to fairly compensate victims who suffered abuse during their time in Scouting, and we also have an obligation to carry out our mission to serve youth, families and local communities through our programs,” Surbaugh said.

Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection would halt the civil proceedings against the Boy Scouts, giving the organization an opportunity to negotiate settlements, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News.

<![CDATA[Shake Shack Setting Up Shop in Palo Alto]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 09:06:55 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ShakeShackBurger2.JPG

Prepare your taste buds, burger lovers. Shake Shack is opening up its first-ever location in the Bay Area.

The New York City-based burger chain will set up shop in Palo Alto at the Stanford Shopping Center with opening day slated for Saturday.

Not familiar with Shake Shack? The burger chain, which started out in the early 2000s as a simple hot dog cart in Manhattan, has blossomed into a nationwide and international business that dishes out burgers, flat-top hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, crinkle cut fries, frozen custard, shakes, beer, wine, breakfast sandwiches, and even treats for dogs.

Shake Shack's Palo Alto establishment will serve up the traditional items listed on its menu in addition to an exclusive burger made specifically to celebrate the Northern California launch. The Golden Gate Double burger features Angus beef patties, white cheddar cheese, pickles and smoked garlic mayonnaise nestled in between sweet potato buns.

The Shake Shack in Palo Alto is located at 180 El Camino Real, Suite No. 950. It will be open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The burger chain has locations in 26 states across the country and in Washington, D.C. It has also set up shop in at least 12 countries outside of the United States.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Money Rains Onto New Jersey Highway From Armored Truck]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 08:15:05 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Brinks_Truck_Still.jpg

An armored truck rained money onto a New Jersey highway Thursday morning, causing two crashes as drivers attempted to collect the cash scattered across several lanes. 

Videos posted on social media show a Brink’s truck parked on the side of Route 3 in East Rutherford.

East Rutherford Police said one of the truck's doors may have malfunctioned and become unsecured shortly before 8:30 a.m.

Drivers leaving their vehicles to pick up the cash caused two accidents, police said. 

In one video, a person can be seen attempting to collect some of the currency from the roadway. It wasn't immediately clear how much cash spilled from the truck.

Brink's "provides U.S. and global security services including secure logistics, cash management, payment and retail back office solutions," according to its website. 

A vice president for the company said he could "confirm that there was an incident with one of our trucks this morning which we are investigating," without elaborating.

Photo Credit: Sabrina Quagliozzi]]>
<![CDATA[Del Monte Recalls Cans of Corn Because They Could Spoil]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 06:54:52 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/fiesta+corn+recall.jpg

Del Monte has recalled more than 64,000 cases of corn because they could spoil and lead to life-threatening illnesses if eaten. 

Cans of Fiesta Corn seasoned with red and green peppers were shipped to 25 U.S. states, including: Alaska, Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

The cans of corn were under-processed during the sterilization process, which could result in contamination by spoilage organisms or pathogens. 

The company has not received any reports of illness, according to Tuesday's announcement from the FDA, but consuming the product could result in a life-threatening illness.

The affected cans are 15.24 ounces and have the number "24000 02770" printed on the label.

Customers who purchased the product are encouraged to return it to the place they purchased it from for a full refund or exchange. 

The cans were also shipped to 12 international locations. 

<![CDATA[Reed Impressive in First Real Opportunity at Cornerback]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 08:14:10 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/djtakel.jpg

At 5-foot-9, D.J. Reed isn’t a big man on an NFL football field. But his confidence stands 6-foot-8.

“You just watch my film,” Reed said after being drafted by the 49ers in the fifth round this spring. “I’m a lock-down corner first and foremost. I don’t get scored on.”

The Niners drafted Reed out of Kansas State believing he could develop into a fine nickel cornerback. This past Sunday, in a win over the Denver Broncos, Reed proved them right, stepping in for injured No. 1 nickel corner K’Waun Williams to have a team-high seven run stops (while being in on 12 tackles overall), getting his first NFL sack, a quarterback hurry and a forced fumble.

Reed was nominated for NFL Rookie of the Week for his performance, which helped San Francisco to just its third win this season, a 20-14 decision at Levi’s Stadium.

“D.J. did have a very good game,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan this week. “I was very excited to see him do some of the stuff he did as the nickel. I think K’Waun has done a hell of a job for us in these two years. So if K’Waun is healthy, I expect K’Waun to be out there. But if he’s not, D.J. can hopefully do better than he did last week and it would be great to go in with some real good competition with those two next year.”

Reed has played in 12 games this season, with the one start, and has been in on 30 tackles, with three of those for loss. He’s also contributed on special teams, where he was a standout at Kansas State. Reed has returned 11 kickoffs for an average of 30.2 yards.

Reed admits this has been a challenging year as he’s had to learn safety and both inside and outside corner positions. In his only previous significant playing time in the secondary, in a Week 4 game, he filled in at free safety and had a rough game. But, he said he felt much more comfortable at nickel corner Sunday against Denver.

“I had a lot of expectations for myself, coming in as a rookie, that I haven’t achieved,” Reed told reporters after the Broncos game. “Getting the opportunity to play this week, I feel like I made the most of it at practice and took advantage of the opportunity.”

Reed also said coaches and teammates – including veteran cornerback Richard Sherman – told him to play faster and stop overthinking things.

“They basically said I am a great player when I am just playing,” said Reed. “When I am thinking, I am not so great.”

With Williams still out of practice this week because of a knee injury, it appears Reed will get another chance to start this Sunday when the 3-10 49ers take on the 8-5 Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Melania Trump Claims 'Opportunists' Not Recording History Properly]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 05:10:23 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/melania-trump4.jpg

First lady Melania Trump said that the most difficult part of her time in the White House is watching "opportunists" use her family's name to advance their careers, claiming they're not recording history properly, NBC News reported

"I would say the opportunists who are using my name or my family's names to advance themselves, from comedians to journalists, to performers, bookwriters," she said in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity which aired Wednesday. "The problem is they are writing the history and it's not correct." 

In the interview, Trump also said that sometimes she doesn't agree with her husband's tone "and I tell him that."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Confides to Friends He's Concerned About Impeachment]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 09:14:07 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Donald+Trump+Sitting+Getty+Images.jpg

President Donald Trump has told people close to him in recent days that he is alarmed by the prospect of impeachment, as the consequences of federal investigations involving his associates and Democratic control of the House sink in, multiple sources told NBC News.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors announced an agreement with American Media Inc, in which the publisher of the National Enquirer admitted to making a $150,000 payment in 2016 to silence a woman alleging an affair with Trump, in coordination with his presidential campaign, to prevent her story from influencing the election. That revelation came after Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen admitted that he violated campaign finance laws by arranging hush payments to women in 2016 at the direction of Trump.

“The entire question about whether the president committed an impeachable offense now hinges on the testimony of two men: David Pecker and Allen Weisselberg, both cooperating witnesses in the SDNY investigation," a close Trump ally told NBC News.

Weisselberg is the chief financial officer for Trump organization who was allegedly in the center of the hush money operation. He was reportedly granted immunity for his testimony. Pecker is the chief executive at AMI.

<![CDATA[Emeryville Officials to Discuss Proposed 54-Story Tower]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 04:25:19 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/emeryville3.JPG

A proposal to build a 54-story residential tower in the East Bay will be discussed Thursday, and, if built, would be among one of the tallest residential buildings in the country.

The 683-foot building would include 638 residential units in Emeryville’s Christie Core neighborhood near the Powell Street Plaza, making it the second tallest all-residential building in the western United States.

Vancouver-based developer Omni Group also wants to build a separate 16-story building where the Emery Bay Café and Allegro Ballroom sits, which would be a mixture of retail space and parking spaces.

However, since the project exceeds height restrictions for buildings in Emeryville, developers will need to show their plans will benefit the community, like affordable housing, in order to get any project approval.

"I think the bigger problem is homelessness and affordable housing," said Oakland resident Asha Wilkerson. "So I don’t really care how big your building is, if there’s still people in the street, it doesn’t matter to me, it’s not impressive to me."

As it stands, the current plan does not show any options for affordable housing, but some residents think the tower will help with rent prices.

"They’re trying build a lot of stuff he, way more houses here," said Alec Phillips from San Francisco. "It’s going to help with rent prices so I’m for it."

Being that the tower will compete with those in San Francisco for tallest in the Bay, some residents think Emeryville is better off without the comparison.

"I like how Emeryville is different from San Francisco, I think if we had a larger tower here, it’s not going to make it any different from San Francisco," said Emeryville resident Murri Shabbirhussain.

Developers will present any changes to their plans during the planning commission meeting Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: EVILEEYE.COM]]>
<![CDATA[Teenager Shot, Killed in East Palo Alto]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 04:18:52 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/east+palo+alto.JPG

A teenager was shot and killed in East Palo Alto early Thursday morning, according to police.

Police responded around 12:30 a.m. to the 1200 block of Beech Street and found the 19-year-old man suffering from gunshot wounds, according to police. The victim, an East Palo Alto resident, died at the scene.

The deadly shooting marks East Palo Alto's third homicide of 2018, according to police.

Anyone with information regarding the shooting is asked to contact the East Palo Alto Police Department by anonymous email (epa@tipnow.org), anonymous text (650-409-6792) or anonymous voice mail (650-409-6792).

<![CDATA[Police Presence at Diablo Valley College Following Threat ]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 10:04:31 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/DuQn3pDVsAEQRk_.jpg

Diablo Valley College officials are adding a stronger police presence Thursday as a precaution following an anonymous threat discovered in the form of graffiti on the Pleasant Hill Campus Wednesday afternoon.

The graffiti was seen in the men’s restrooms in the humanities building and in the library, police said.

"Counselors will be available this week and next to help students who are experiencing increased anxiety," the school said in an advisory to students.

College officials said classes and services will run as scheduled but additional police officers and counselors will be on campus.

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<![CDATA[Bay Area Companies Have Best Company Culture in 2018: Report]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 03:11:55 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1026614180.jpg

Many Bay Area residents can related to having had multiple jobs until finding the perfect fit.

Some people may like one job better than the other and now, there’s an official list revealing the names of 50 companies with the Best Company Culture in 2018 and 11 of those are in the Bay Area.

The list was compiled by Comparably, a website that monitors the job market looking for the best careers and companies in the United States.

Comparably composed its list from ratings provided by employees who anonymously rated their employers on their website between Nov. 26, 2017 and Nov. 26, 2018.

Some, if not all of these, may surprise you:

No. 2: Google, Mountain View

Google received an overall grade of an A+ and a total of 12 awards centered on diversity, happiness, perks and benefits, leadership and professional development.

It was only upped by Costco – yes, Costco -- which received a total of 13 awards including best CEO, best company for women, work-life-balance and perks and benefits.

No. 7: Intuit, Mountain View

Software company Intuit also scored an A+ and a total of 12 awards including happiness, compensation and diversity.

No. 8: Salesforce, San Francisco

Just behind Intuit, software company Salesforce also scores an A+ and a total of 11 awards including bets CEO, compensation, happiness, diversity, leadership and best company managers.

No. 16: Facebook, Menlo Park

Twelve awards landed Facebook on the 16th spot with an overall grade of an A+ with awards like best CEO, a couple of best company for women awards, diversity, leadership and perks and benefits

No. 21: Nevro, Redwood City

With 13 awards, Nevro, a medical device company, got an overall culture score of 85, giving it a B average. Employees said the company offered great compensation, diversity, work-life balance and perks and benefits.

No. 24: Globant, San Francisco

Software development company Globant got an overall grade of an A+ with two awards, best company culture and best company for diversity. Its CEO Martin Migoya scored an 87 out of 100, placing him at the top 5 percent.

No. 25: LinkedIn, Mountain View

Networking sire LinkedIn was awarded eight awards including happiness, perks and benefits, diversity and overall culture.

No. 29: Sunrun, San Francisco

Solar panel provider Sunrun holds a best CEO award as Lynn Jurich scored a 92 out of 100. They were also awarded best company for women and best company culture overall.

No. 37: VMware, Palo Alto

Software company VMware got an overall A grade with awards including perks and benefits, compensation, diversity and leadership.

No. 38: Kaiser Permanente, Oakland

With an overall A-, Kaiser was recognized for their diversity, compensation and perks and benefits. It is in the top 15 percent of family-sized companies in the U.S.

No. 41: Adobe, San Jose

Adobe, the last of the Bay Area companies on the list, was awarded for their culture, diversity, happiness, leadership and compensation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[More Sophisticated Gas Pump Skimmers on the Rise in East Bay]]> Wed, 12 Dec 2018 23:28:37 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/gas_pump_skimmers_1212_5305881.JPG

Gas pump skimmers in Alameda County are getting more sophisticated when it comes to stealing your money.

That's the warning from authorities in Hayward and across Alameda County as they are seeing a spike in such cases. But there's a twist in how the thieves are getting access to credit card numbers, and it could involve organized crime.

Hayward police Detective Matt McMahon said they’re finding a lot more of a new type of skimmer, one that uses Bluetooth.

"It’s not your average criminal that’s employing this type of device," McMahon said. "It’s an electronic device being placed inside the gas pump panel. ... A thief will be able to remotely access the credit card information from the device."

Thieves get inside the pumps by picking the lock or prying open the panel door.

"In the past, the person would have to access the device again," McMahon said. "Now, they don’t have to ever recover the device."

If there's no security seal on the front of the gas pump panel, the pump could be compromised. That’s something police want consumers to pay close attention to.

Some consumers have stopped using their debit cards and started using credit cards at the gas pump, hoping that would help. Police say it does indeed help because the thieves won’t have access to a person's checking account.

An even better way to not be victimized: Have the clerk swipe your card inside instead of at the pump.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Mavericks Surfers Gearing Up For Big Wave Contest Next Week]]> Wed, 12 Dec 2018 23:42:14 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mavericks_1212_5305633.JPG

Elite big wave surfers were gearing up Wednesday for the world-renowned Mavericks Challenge California surfing competition near Half Moon Bay.

Surfers said they’ve been told to be ready for the contest Monday or next Wednesday Dec. 19. Forecasts show huge swells on those days.

"Monday looks like it's going to be giant," founder Jeff Clark said. "When it gets to be as big is it's gonna be on Monday, it's as hard to surf as it ever will be."

Local event liason Brian Overfelt agreed, saying, "It could be 60-foot faces."

Some surfers said "they’ve got their tickets."

Organizers said wind likely will be the deciding factor in the contest that last took place in February 2016.

If it goes off, it will be the first Mavericks contest with a women's division.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Ohio Man Arrested in First Menlo Park Homicide Since 2012]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 09:27:12 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/menlo+park.JPG

A woman has been found dead and a suspect is in custody Wednesday following a homicide in Menlo Park, police said.

Someone called 911 at 5:34 p.m. to report that someone was dead in a home in the 900 block of Valparaiso Avenue.

Police went to the home and found an unresponsive woman who was pronounced dead a short time later. The victim was killed with a stabbing instrument that was not a knife, according to Menlo Park police.

The suspect has been identified as Francis Wolke, a 36 year old man from Cincinnati, Ohio. He has a prior address in San Francisco from 2014, police said.

People who live in the neighborhood say it comes as a shock since nothing ever happens in that area. There hasn't been a homicide in the area since 2012, according to the city's crime statistics.

Detectives are currently at the home conducting an investigation with the help of the San Mateo County crime lab and county prosecutors.

Police said no threat to the public exists.

Wolk has been booked into the San Mateo County Jail on charges of First Degree Murder.

Anyone who has information about the possible killing is asked to call police at (650) 330-6300 or the anonymous tip line at (650) 330-6395.

<![CDATA[Marshawn Lynch Opening Restaurant Featuring 'No Phone Zone']]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 06:34:45 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/marshawnusatsi_1.jpg

Come for the food and atmosphere, but leave your phone at home! That's one of the features of Raiders star Marshawn Lynch's unique restaurant opening Friday in Emeryville. The restaurant is called 'Rob Bens' after Lynch's friend Robert Benjamin, who was shot and killed in Oakland in 2007. The restaurant will serve soul food.

Photo Credit: Scott Bair]]>
<![CDATA[Man Rescued After Being Stuck in Restaurant Vent for 2 Days]]> Wed, 12 Dec 2018 20:36:32 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sanleandromanstuck.jpg

First responders on Wednesday rescued a trespasser — possibly a burglar — who was reportedly trapped for about two days in a grimy vent at a vacant Chinese food restaurant in San Lorenzo, according to officials.

The 29-year-old man, seen caked in grease as he was stuck in the narrow passageway, was taken into custody after being freed from the vent, officials said.

"It is likely he wound not have survived another day given the circumstances," the Alameda County Sheriff's Office wrote on Facebook.

Fire and sheriff's department units responded around 9:30 a.m. to the 700 block of Bockman Road after receiving word that someone was making faint calls for help from the restaurant, officials said.

As firefighters arrived at the scene, they heard someone moaning from inside the vacant building. They eventually found the man who told them he had been stuck in the duct system above the stove for about two days.

Crews managed to free him in about 30 minutes, according to officials. The man did not suffer any serious injuries, but he was said to be suffering from fatigue, body cramps and pain in his extremities. 

He was taken to a local hospital for treatment, according to the sheriff's office. He is expected to make a full recovery.

"At this time, we are conducting a trespassing and vandalism investigation," the sheriff's office said in a statement. "It is unknown if the suspect intended to commit a burglary."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area/Alameda County Sheriff's Department]]>
<![CDATA[A Look at One of SF's Most Famous Holiday Displays]]> Wed, 12 Dec 2018 19:04:35 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1212-PicOfScene.jpg

It’s almost hard to believe one of the Bay Area’s most outlandish holiday displays began with a meager potted tree — but alas some of the most enduring traditions sprout from humble beginnings.

Yet as thousands of people turn out year — taking in the 60-foot Norfolk Island Pine buried beneath lights and ornaments in the front yard of Tom Taylor and Jerome Goldstein, they are looking at a tree that began its life in a pot from Cost Plus in 1974.

“That little bucket, that was it,” said Taylor, the calm sprocket in a whirling dervish of holiday decorating which engulfed the entire yard of his and Goldstein’s home on a steep hill in San Francisco’s Dolores Heights.

These days the house and its ornaments, which have now claimed not only the tree but the roof, yard and driveway, are a holiday destination. The Tom and Jerry lights, as the long-time couple is known, even has its own Yelp page and was featured on the show Light Fights, which Goldstein said he was reluctant to participate in(they didn’t win).

“This is an act of love,” Goldstein said. “It is not an act of money, power or winning.”

If victory could be measured by utter devotion, the Tom and Jerry display would be hard to beat — swarms of its visitors grew up coming by the house over the last 31 years and the visitors include several generations.

“Growing with this tree means a lot,” said neighbor Hunter Padilla who dresses up as Santa’s elf during the run of the display. Yes, the display even has its own nightly Santa.

“That is what this tree is all about,” Goldstein said, “it’s about the people who love doing this, who do it year after year after year.”

And unlike your average handy-person who will hang a few lights and call it a day — the homeowners employ a crew of ten who labor full-time for up to six weeks using a small crane to get the house Christmas-ready.

“First time doing it was daunting,” said a worker named Benji who has labored on Goldstein and Taylor’s holiday display since 2002. “It’s doing like a Christmas tree at your house but times one thousand.”

The decorations include the tree with its multi-colored bulbs, large packages on the roof, two train sets, a pair of toy car tracks and a pair of massive Christmas stockings hung over the garage with care, inscribed with Tom and Jerry. Exactly how many decorations are involved is anyone’s guess.

“We might as well pick lottery numbers than try to count how many ornaments there are,” Benji said staring up at the tree.

It’s only slightly easier to tally all the years Taylor and Goldstein have been together — forty-six — married since 2013. Their relationship has lasted not only the test of time but the responsibility of hosting a massive Christmas display for over three decades.

“This is my 31st year,” Taylor said. “I’m not sure who’s the boss anymore, the tree or me.”

The couple said it hopes to continue the decorating tradition a few more years — then possibly find someone to take it over.

“You got a house?” Taylor half-joked to visitors showing up for the display’s inaugural evening this week — as Santa plunked down on a bench and began handing out candy canes.

As children bounded between the train sets and the spinning barbie dolls — warily eyeing Santa sitting beneath a cacophony of holiday lighting — Taylor and Goldstein sat on a bench watching the scene in a sort of eye of the storm.

The tree that started out in a bucket, stretched above the roof the house — an electric-looking star beaming above the neighborhood as if there to beckon three wise men and a few donkeys.

Goldstein allowed a cheshire-like grin. “The Christmas tree,” he said, “you just can’t argue with mom and apple pie.”

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr./NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[3 Missing in West Virginia Mine Found Alive]]> Thu, 13 Dec 2018 07:17:13 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Kayla-and-Erica-WV-mine1.jpg

Three people missing in an inactive coal mine in Clear Creek, West Virginia, were found alive Wednesday after being reported missing four days ago, authorities said.

The three had been trapped in the Rock House Powellton mine, which has been inactive for about two years, according to a source familiar with the mine. A sheriff’s spokesman said it's illegal to enter an abandoned mine, and the mother of one of the three missing said she believes they were in the mine to steal copper.

Samantha Smith, a spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Commerce, said in a statement that the Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training confirmed they were found alive and would receive medical treatment.

The three missing people were identified as Kayla Williams, Erica Treadway and Cody Beverly. Video showed at least one person being loaded into an ambulance and being embraced by family and friends.

<![CDATA[Man Charged in Deadly Throat-Cutting of 3-Year-Old Niece]]> Wed, 12 Dec 2018 15:54:57 -0800 https://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/DIT+NAT+THROAT+SLASH+121218.00_00_00_00.Still007THUMB.jpg

Emanuel Fluter, 33, appeared in court Wednesday to face murder charges after allegedly slashing his 3-year-old niece's throat over the weekend, killing her. Josephine Bulubenchi, the victim, was asleep at the time of the attack. A plea of not guilty was entered on Fluter's behalf.